Thursday, February 21, 2013

“I know it sounds crazy.”

Insane City
by Dave Barry

I’ve been a fan of Mr. Barry’s for decades. He has elicited from me embarrassing snorts of laughter on too many occasions to count. Therefore, and new novel is always an occasion to be looked forward to.

The insane city of the novel’s title is Miami, Florida, soon to be the site of the Weinstein-Clark wedding. At the heart of the tale is groom Seth Weinstein, and the novel’s first few chapters could be the opening of The Hangover III. It’s bachelor party night, and while amusing, I did think to myself, “If this is 300 pages of Boys Behaving Badly, I’m not sure I can take it.” Happily, that is not the case. Well, there is a lot of bad behavior from boys, girls, and, uh, various other creatures, but the bachelor hijinks soon pave the way for a far more absurd and entertaining tale. It’s goofy as all get out, but has both substance and heart at its very core. I could try to summarize the novel’s plot, but I think it would be a lot more fun to share a few brief quotes:
“This isn’t what it looks like.”

“So, you’re not bleeding from the head and hanging out with a Beyoncé look-alike and a Jerry Springer bouncer carrying a large snake?”

“He had to stop being an idiot.”

“Wait, he shot a Jet Ski? Even in Miami, that has to be against the law.”

“I know it sounds crazy.”

“Eventually these people decided that this was just another one of those strange things that seem to happen in Miami.”

“Nothing I hate more than an orangutan shooter.”

“If you’re just joining us this morning, we’re following one of those weird stories that makes you shake your head and say, ‘Only in Miami.’”

“It’s complicated.”

“Even by Miami standards, this was a weird group making its way through the Bayside crowd.”

“Any man fleeing from the police with three women, two children, and an orangutan is a friend of mine.”
Oh, yes, it’s novels like this that make me wonder why I’m considering relocating to Miami. Dave Barry can still make me laugh out loud after all these years. And while no one will ever mistake his work for literary fiction, he did once win a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. He knows how to write a proper sentence. Furthermore, he did a nice job of creating characters who, over the course of the novel, manage to reveal their true natures.

Don’t come to this one looking for sophistication or subtlety, but if you’ve had a bad day and are seeking a little screwball comedy, look no further. Insane City is guaranteed to lift your spirits.

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