Carl Hiaasen was born in 1953 in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida suburb of Plantation. He is alive and well and living in South Florida.
He may be America's greatest satirist, and is certainly one of the most entertaining Florida authors of modern times.
I first heard about him when I moved to Miami in 1992 a couple of weeks after Hurricane Andrew had laid much of Miami-Dade County to waste.
My new job as regional manager of a large consulting firm required me to join the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce. I began to hear Hiaasen's name, and it was clear he was not well liked by the average chamber member. He was even less liked by the Chamber leadership.
Why was he the most hated of Florida authors, at least by this group?
To better understand this, I read "Tourist Season", and instantly became a Carl Hiaasen fan. Read the book and you will understand why the Chamber of Commerce types hated Hiaasen.
This book was a hilarious look at Florida tourism, and Hiaasen claims he wrote it to scare tourists away. It didn't work, but it's a super fun read.
I have a reference book titled "Outstanding Floridians" that was published in 1971. That is the year Carl would have turned 18. There is an entry in there for Carl Andreas Hiaasen, attorney of 2417 Northeast 27th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, born May 26, 1894 and in the practice of law since 1923.
My hunch is that this man was our Carl's grandfather and namesake. I don't know for sure, so don't quote me. In any event, Carl Hiassen's Florida roots run deep.
His website says he graduated from the University of Florida at the age of 23 and joined The Miami Herald as a general assignment reporter. He went on to work for the Herald's weekly magazine and later its prize-winning investigations team.
Since 1985 Hiaasen has been writing a regular column for the Miami Herald. His column, at one time or another, in his own words, "has pissed off just about everybody in South Florida, including my own bosses".
Hiaasen has received many awards and honors for his newspaper work, including the Damon Runyon Award. He has also been published in many magazines including Time, Playboy and Sports Illustrated. He is one of the most versatile Florida authors.
He began writing novels in the early 1980's with a good friend, the late William D. Montalbano. As a team, these Florida authors produced three mystery thrillers based on their own experiences as reporters.
These joint effort books were titled "Powder Burn" (1981), "Trap Line" (1982) and "A Death in China" (1984).
"Tourist Season", mentioned earlier, was published in 1986. It was Hiaasen's first solo novel.
You gotta love a book that starts off with the body of the president of the Miami Chamber of Commerce being found floating in Biscayne Bay in a suitcase. The poor guy's legs have been sawed off and a rubber alligator stuffed down his throat.
At first, media reporters and local police think it's just another typical South Florida crime. Instead, it turns out to be an effort to scare tourists away.
His next novel, "Double Whammy", was a hilarious story about sex, murder and corruption on the professional bass-fishing circuit.
Almost all of Hiassen's novels are set in Florida, and he has created some memorable characters, like "Skink", a former Florida governor who lives on road kill.
I can't think of a better way to get a belly laugh in this crazy world than to read one of Hiassen's books.
ABOUT CARL HIAASEN FLORIDA BOOKS
Here is a listing of Carl Hiaasen's fiction books since 1986:
* "Naked Came the Manatee" was written with 12 other Florida authors. It is hilarious. You must read!
Hiassen has also published two collections of his newspaper columns, books titled "Kick Ass" and "Paradise Screwed".
Most if not all of Carl Hiaasen's books are still in print are are available at this direct link: Carl Hiaasen at Amazon.com