Thursday, May 2, 2013

Insane City

by Dave Barry
352 pgs

As much as I enjoy the "Peter and the Starcatchers" books Dave Barry co-writes with Ridley Pearson, my chief complaint with them is that they prevent him from writing his books for adults more regularly. Insane City is only the third novel for adults by the Pulitzer-Prize winning author and humorist and I wish there were many more already.

First off, let me reiterate the point that Insane City is for adults. The language is frequently foul and may offend some readers, but I don't think you can truly claim to be offended by something if it also makes you laugh, and this book will make you do that often. Seth and Tina are getting married in two days. Seth is an underachiever whose job consists of composing tweets for a feminine hygiene company's products. Tina is a successful lawyer who comes from a tremendously wealthy family. Seth knows he's marrying well out of his league and has no intentions of messing things up. Everyone involved in the lavishly planned wedding has come to Miami for the ceremony that Tina is bent on ensuring goes off without a glitch. But this is a Dave Barry story, things start to go crazy as soon as the plane lands.

Seth and his best men get lost thanks to their cab driver, drunk at a hot-bod contest at a club, and manage to lose the groom's luggage, which contained the one-of-a-kind, never-replaceable wedding ring that he had been given responsibility for safekeeping until the big day. The rest of the story involves a family of Haitian refugees who wash up on the beach outside the hotel, an unpaid stripper who was ordered for the bachelor party but was never used, an amorous orangutan, and a batch of special brownies that accidentally get served at the rehearsal dinner.

Dave Barry pulls out all the stops in this one. He's a fantastic writer who does so many things well. His plot with all its subplots are very entertaining and he keeps them each progressing at an impressive pace. His characters manage to be simultaneously over-the-top stereotypes but still likable and relatable.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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