Carl Hiassen: Florida Freak Show

Lecture, 2014
Carl Hiaasen

    Carl Hiaasen at the 2014 Key West Literary Seminar: “The Dark Side: Mystery, Crime, and the Literary Thriller.” Photo by Nick Doll.

    Bestselling novelist and journalist Carl Hiaasen is among South Florida’s most colorful natural resources. His comic style—Hiaasenesque—combines thrilling plot lines, blunder-prone schemes, wayward men and headstrong women, corrupt politicians, and a loving nod to the natural (and unnatural) landscape of the Sunshine State.

    This recording features Hiaasen’s hilarious retelling of some of the news stories that serve as both blessing and curse for fiction writers trying to draw inspiration from their surroundings. Any Florida writer has “an embarrassment of riches,” Hiaasen says. At the same time, he points out, one must try to strike a balance between the outlandish and the plausible. In Florida, news tends toward the outlandish, and as Hiaasen explains, it’s difficult to write stories that don’t eventually come true. And, should they come true, most fiction readers, let alone editors and publishers, would find most of them too strange for a work of fiction.

    A shortlist of the too-strange-for-fiction tales Hiaasen spins here includes the legendary disappearance of Key West Fire Chief Joseph “Bum” Farto—“a character no one could have created”; the Broward woman (formerly a Broward man), arrested for doing unlicensed cosmetic surgery in people’s homes by injecting her clients with Fix-A-Flat; and the story of a Miami-Dade man whose neighbors put in a call to the local game warden (not the police, Hiaasen noted) to report him for sharing his bed with two alligators.

    From KWLS 2014: The Dark Side: Mystery, Crime, and the Literary Thriller.This recording is available for noncommercial and educational use only. All rights belong to the author. © Carl Hiaasen. Used with permission from Carl Hiaasen.

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