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Native Tongue Mass Market Paperback – September 23, 1992

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Mass Market Paperback, September 23, 1992
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Hiassen sends his reluctant journalist hero after a morally corrupt real estate developer in this scattershot but inventive entertainment.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

Imagine you're driving a rented Chrysler LeBaron convertible to the perfect family vacation at the Amazing Kingdom of Thrills when a rat is tossed into your car by a passing pickup. The rodent in question is not a rat, but a rare blue-tongued mango vole just liberated from the Kingdom by the militant Wildlife Rescue Corps. Welcome to the world of Native Tongue , where dedicated (if somewhat demented) environmentalists battle sleazy real estate developers in the Florida Keys. Hiaasen reminds one of Harry Crews in his depiction of a South full of eccentric people involved in crazy schemes. It is a measure of the writer's talent that no matter how bizarre the situation, it is believable. Late in the book a character laments his predicament as "an irresistible convergence of violence, mayhem and mortality!" If he had added nonstop hilarity, he would have had a perfect description of this book. Highly recommended. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/91.
- Dan Bogey, Clearfield Cty. P.L. Federation, Curwensville, Pa.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Fawcett (September 23, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0449221180
  • ISBN-13: 978-0449221181
  • Product Dimensions: 6.9 x 4.3 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (202 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,333,754 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Carl Hiaasen was born and raised in Florida, where he still lives with his incredibly tolerant family and numerous personal demons.

A graduate of the University of Florida, at age 23 he joined The Miami Herald as a general assignment reporter and went on to work for the paper's weekly magazine and later its prize-winning investigations team. Since 1985 Hiaasen has been writing a regular column, which at one time or another has pissed off just about everybody in South Florida, including his own bosses. He has outlasted almost all of them, and his column still appears on most Sundays in The Herald's opinion-and-editorial section. It may be viewed online at or in the actual printed edition of the newspaper, which, miraculously, is still being published.

For his journalism and commentary, Hiaasen has received numerous state and national honors, including the Damon Runyon Award from the Denver Press Club. His work has also appeared in many well-known magazines, including Sports Illustrated, Playboy, Time, Life, Esquire and, most improbably, Gourmet.

In the early 1980s, Hiaasen began writing novels with his good friend and distinguished journalist, the late William D. Montalbano. Together they produced three mystery thrillers -- Powder Burn, Trap Line and Double Whammy -- which borrowed heavily from their own reporting experiences.

Tourist Season, published in 1986, was Hiaasen's first solo novel. GQ magazine called it "one of the 10 best destination reads of all time," although it failed to frighten a single tourist away from Florida, as Hiaasen had hoped it might. His next effort, Double Whammy, was the first (and possibly the only) novel about sex, murder and corruption on the professional bass-fishing circuit.

Since then, Hiaasen has published nine others -- Skin Tight, Native Tongue, Strip Tease, Stormy Weather, Lucky You, Sick Puppy, Basket Case, Skinny Dip, The Downhill Lie and Nature Girl. Hiaasen made his children's book debut with Hoot (2002), which was awarded a Newbery Honor and spent more than two years on the New York Times bestseller lists. For young readers he went on to write the bestselling Flush (2005) and, most recently Scat (January 2009). The film version of Hoot was released in 2006, directed by Wil Shriner and produced by Jimmy Buffett and Frank Marshall. ("Hoot" is now available on DVD).

Hiaasen is also responsible for Team Rodent (1998), a wry but unsparing rant against the Disney empire and its creeping grip on the American entertainment culture. In 2008, Hiaasen came back to nonfiction with The Downhill Lie: A Hacker's Return to a Ruinous Sport. The book chronicles his harrowing and ill-advised reacquaintance with golf after a peaceful, 32-year absence.

Together, Hiaasen's novels have been published in 34 languages, which is 33 more than he is able to read or write. Still, he has reason to believe that all the foreign translations are brilliantly faithful to the original work. The London Observer has called him "America's finest satirical novelist," while Janet Maslin of the New York Times has compared him to Preston Sturges, Woody Allen and S.J. Perelman. Hiaasen re-reads those particular reviews no more than eight or nine times a day.

To prove that he doesn't just make up all the sick stuff in his fiction, Hiaasen has also published two collections of his newspaper columns, Kick A** and Paradise Screwed, both courageously edited by Diane Stevenson and faithfully kept in print by the University Press of Florida.

One of Hiaasen's previous novels, Strip Tease, became a major motion-picture in 1996 starring Demi Moore, and directed by Andrew Bergman. Despite what some critics said, Hiaasen continues to insist that the scene featuring Burt Reynolds slathered from his neck to his toes with Vaseline is one of the high points in modern American cinema.

Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

50 of 51 people found the following review helpful By Royce E. Buehler on May 22, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I picked up Hiassen's "Sick Puppy" at random a couple years back, and then rushed right out and grabbed this one. Nitrous oxide has nothing on these two elevators. I haven't laughed so hard, so continuously, since P.G. Wodehouse ushered me into the presence of the immortal Jeeves thirty years ago.
Hiassen's work seems to divide neatly into the early stuff, up through Skin Tight, which inhabits the same danger-ridden, darkly comic territory as Elmore Leonard, with similarly razor-edged dialogue; and the later stuff, which forms a genre of its own, savagely satirical farces that cast credibility and all sense of human decency and restraint to the winds in order to skewer every form of foible and malefaction. I love them both, but prefer the latter, to which "Native Tongue" squarely belongs. Here the targets range from Sea World to Disney to phone sex purveyors and their clients to fuzzy animal lovers to bodybuilders to birdwatchers. With his usual heaping helpings of lawyers, developers, politicians, and like members of the lower criminal orders. Not least among them, tied like Pauline to the railroad tracks of imminent extinction, those adorable blue-tongued mango voles. And you won't want to miss a single savory chunk of kabob on the master's shish.
I notice that the reviewers all seem to like best the first Hiassen they happened to read, and I'm no exception. This one, "Sick Puppy", and his first entry , "Tourist Season", by me are the champs. But I suspect if you were to ask Carl for his favorite, he'd direct you straight here to his Cage au Voles, because this is the one where he got to lampoon the South Florida theme park - an excrescence so dear to his heart that he made it the subject of "Team Rodent", his only nonfiction volume to date.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 28, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Although I am that rare creature who was born and bred in Florida, you don't have to be a native Floridian to be taken over by Carl Hiaasen's NATIVE TONGUE.
The characters are just too weird to be real and yet, when you think about it, you know you've met people like them, just not quite as overt about it. From the eco-hippie ex-governor of Florida to the guy who meets his dimise in a most unusual aquatic encounter, they will grab you by the throat and won't let go till the last page has been turned.
As for the plot, well, it's got more twists and turns than a sailor's knot and a lot more laughs too.
The really neat trick that Hiaasen pulls on you is that his fiction gives you the sad truth in a way that keeps you from crying. This has to be the funniest book I've ever read.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Norm Zurawski on November 18, 2005
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Native Tongue is an enjoyable book which translates well to riding a train, something I do every day, an hour each way. The story is crafted well enough to keep you interested, the characters are colorful, the underlying message is a decent one, and the book as a whole stands up well as I look back on it. Having said that, there's something in the narrative which makes you wonder about the author, if he's really a homicidal maniac waiting for you to stumble into his back yard.

That statement might sound a bit off-the-wall. I suppose I should admit to having read a magazine article about him recently. The book moves from colorful, with a hint of darkness, to a little edgy for the wrong reasons after you read more about the guy. Still, that shouldn't (and doesn't) take away from the book, which is a good way to pass the time on the train ride into the city.

The story is about man's encroachment on the various Florida lands that should be reserved for wildlife as opposed to, say, condos and parking lots. To be sure, this is an ever-growing problem which looms on society's horizon, only getting bigger by the day. In typical American fashion, the author takes this stand only *after* establishing his own residence in the state. "Do as I say, not as a do," has never been more prevalent.

But the book isn't terribly serious. It's a whimsical fiction story which is easy to chew through at a good pace. Hiaasen is a good writer, and keeps the narrative moving well through the book. A bit peculiar in spots, the story nevertheless runs cohesively from start to finish, pausing occasionally to let you laugh at yet another silly kink in the story's chain.

All in all, a good book that's worth the read. Will definitely buy more of this author's work.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 23, 1998
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This was my first Hiaasen book, and it was so funny and thought provoking that I rushed to read his others. None have measured up to Native Tongue. Native Tongue & Catch-22 are the only books I've ever read that were so riotiously funny that I had to lay the book down because tears were running down my face. His characters are perfect, I've met people like some of them. I liked it so much that I've bought it as presents for my friends and family. My brother loved it and wanted to read more Hiaasen.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Peggy Vincent on July 23, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Carl Hiaasen has a delightfully warped mind. "Thank God," his devoted readers will say. Like his others, this book is set in a very bizarre country known as South Florida. And all of his baddie characters are intent on exploiting the environment or scamming tourists. Native Tongue begins with a family vacation being `disrupted' when a rat - uh, no, a rare weirdo vole - is tossed into their rental car. A convertible: perfect for rat-tossing. Insane and inane but dedicated environmentalists are pitted against the usual bad guys: real estate developers and environment rapists.
Four stars.
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