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Nature Girl Paperback – October 30, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Old fans and newcomers alike should delight in Hiaasen's 11th novel (after 2004's Skinny Dip), another hilarious Florida romp. The engaging and diverse screwball cast includes Boyd Shreave, a semicompetent telemarketer; Shreave's mistress and co-worker, Eugenie Fonda; Honey Santana, a mercurial gadfly who ends up on the other end of one of Shreave's pitches for Florida real estate; and Sammy Tigertail, half Seminole, who at novel's start must figure out what to do with the body of a tourist who dies of a heart attack on Sammy's airboat after being struck by a harmless water snake. When Santana cooks up an elaborate scheme to punish Shreave for nasty comments he made during his solicitation call, she ends up involving her 12-year-old son, Fry, and her ex-husband in a frantic chase that enmeshes Tigertail and the young co-ed Sammy accidentally has taken hostage. While the absurd plot may be less than compelling, Hiaasen's humorous touches and his all-too-human characters carry the book to its satisfying close. 600,000 first printing; author tour. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* The trend, noticeable in Hiaasen's last few novels, to move ever so slightly away from the apocalyptic edge is evident again in his latest screwball thriller. In fact, this one feels like a Shakespearean comedy, a mix of A Midsummer's Night Dream and As You Like It in which a group of confused lovers tangle with a gang of "rude mechanicals" deep in the Forest of Arden. Except here Arden is one of the Ten Thousand Islands in the famous Florida wilderness area. And our heroine, playing a variation on Rosalind, is a slightly screwy gal named Honey Santana, who possesses the tragic flaw of demanding "more decency and consideration from her fellow humans than they demand of themselves." That's a tall order when your fellow humans include a foul-smelling fishmonger who may be the world's most deranged stalker and a ne'er-do-well telephone solicitor who has the bad luck of calling Honey at the dinner hour. Before you can say "Lord, what fools these mortals be!" Honey, the phone guy, and his comely mistress have landed in Hiaasen's bug-infested Forest of Arden along with the fishmonger/stalker, a Seminole Indian on the lam, and sundry others. There is much chaos, of course, but throughout a long night on the island, there is never a sense of horror lurking behind the high jinks. We stick around for the show, however, even without much suspense, because Hiaasen is still as funny as any thriller writer alive, and because, even at his goofiest, his characters are never mere jokes with legs. There's always something human there, behind the laughter or beyond the horror, and this time that something is almost sweet. "Such sweet thunder," one might call it. Bill Ott
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing; Reprint edition (October 30, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446581755
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446581752
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.9 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (268 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #217,350 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

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

51 of 55 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia K. Robertson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 13, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
One of the funniest mystery writers today is Carl Hiaason. In his latest, Nature Girl, he provides us with his usual fare--a hilariously funny story but with a message. While not as powerful as some of his previous work, Nature Girl is still an entertaining book.

Nature Girl is Honey Santana, a female version of Twilly Spreey (who Hiaason featured in Sick Puppy). Santana is divorced, raising a precocious 12 year old son Fry, and apparently suffers from bi-polar disorder. Santana's husband, Skinner, still loves his former wife and tries to run interference for her. She is known to do outrageous things "trying to demand more decency and consideration from her fellow human beings." When a hapless telephone solicitor, Boyd Shreave, interrupts her dinner time with her son and then calls her a rude name, Santana hatches a plot to teach Shreave some civility.

Santana lures Boyd and his girlfriend to the Florida wilderness and Ten Thousand Islands. Little does she know that the cast of characters that will encounter on Dismal Key. They include Sammy Tigertail (a Seminole Indian trying to hide out from the law and who hears the voices of a dead man), Gillian LaCroix (a college co-ed who wants to be taken hostage by Tigertail), Eugenie Fonda (Shreave's reluctant girlfriend), Theordore Dealey (a PI who has been hired by Shreave's wife to get incriminating photos), and Louis Piejack (an obnoxious sexual predator stalking Santana). As Dealey observes, "I wish I hadn't taken this god-damned case--I've never run up against so many card-carrying fruitballs in all my life." It's a cast that only Hiaason could produce.

But through the comic scenes, there is much to be serious about in Nature Girl. Hiaasen is anti-development, anti-tourist and pro-environment.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By jeanne-scott on July 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Hiaasen is absolutely a fabulous author!! His novel brings together a cast of eclectic and "border-line" personalities into the swamps and keys of Florida with an undertone of environmental responsibility. An "off-her-meds" woman decides to teach a lesson to a telemarketer and his mistress by luring them into a lesson teaching get-away. Her ex-husband is trying to keep an eye on her, as is her 12 year old son. They end up crossing paths with a half-white half-Seminole young man who is hiding from the law due to the death of his first client and his voluntary hostage, a young co-ed looking for adventure and possible romance.
This tale is entertaining and intelligent as always in Hiaasen's approach to his anti-development message. Hiaasen delivers his message in an entertaining intricate story. This is not his best novel but when you are talking Hiaasen they are all good, this is just a little less great than his others.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Heather A. Teysko VINE VOICE on July 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Nobody makes playing with words so much fun as Hiaasen does. He's got the most bizarre imagination. The cast of characters is crazy, the stories, as usual, get all interconnected, and the result is a fun and satisfying ride.

I found this book to be less philosophical and deep than some of his others. There wasn't an environmental "bad guy" out to destroy habitats to build a cheap housing development, though there definitely were a few bad guys who certainly didn't appreciate their surroundings. It was a lot more fun and quirky, and less of a morality tale.

Definitely a must-read for fans of Hiaasen. And if you're up for a crazy ride that's part mystery, part satire, and pure comedy, give it a whirl. I actually bought Brideshead Revisited to reread after Hiaasen was compared to Waugh - another classic satirist worth reading.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By John Daley on December 3, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Okay, I agree with some of the other reviews. It is not quite as good as Hiaason's best(Strip Tease, Lucky You, Basket Case), but a lot better than his worst (Sick Puppy, Tourist Season). But even a bad Carl Hiaason novel is a whole lot better than some other books being published today.

I liked the story, although I think it would have been better recieved about five years ago. Before the do not call lists, when telemarketing was just way out of hand. The characters are pretty funny. All in all, this book is worth the money, especially if you are a Hiaason fan.
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17 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Richard Cumming on November 15, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When the phone rang. It was a telemarketer trying to sell you something that you didn't want and they wouldn't take NO for an answer. It's happened to all of us at one time or another.

Thus we have the basic premise for the new book by Carl Hiaasen. It starts off like a classic crime fiction novel-we have a corpse within the first few sentences. Don't be fooled-it's more comedy fiction than crime novel.

The "nature girl" of the title is Honey Santana. A single mother, Honey lives in a trailer park with her 12 1/2 year old son, Fry. They were just sitting down to supper when, you guessed it, a telemarketer (Boyd Eisenhower-calling from Texas) disturbed their meal.

Honey has some problems-she keeps hearing two songs at once in her head-like Nat King Cole and Nine Inch Nails at the same time. Her mental peculiarities broke up her marriage. When she starts giving the telemarketer a hard time he flips out and calls her names.

Honey wants revenge and she gets it. Hiaasen has written a wacky and vicariously delightful adventure that unfolds mostly in the swamps of the Everglades in SW Florida.

It's not classic literature but it's truly hilarious.
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