Dave Barry delves into Miami madness
BY DAVID MARTINDALE Fort Worth Star-Telegram
Sunday, February 03, 2013
2/03/13 at 3:27 AM
There's a method to Dave Barry's madness.
It pretty much works like this: If the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer is amused by some foolish notion - such as a pirate ship defending itself by firing frozen chicken nuggets from a cannon - it's going to wind up in the pages of his book.
No plot development is too absurd. No character can go too far over the top.
Barry's new novel, "Insane City," chronicling the misadventures of Seth Weinstein and friends in advance of a weekend wedding ceremony in Miami, follows that formula to a tee.
The story has an everything-but-the-kitchen-sink quality to it. There are pimps, a python and pothead billionaires. There are Haitian refugees, Russian gold diggers and an orangutan named Trevor.
And, yes, there really is a pirate ship battle in which chicken nuggets are used as ammo.
Q: What was the genesis of "Insane City"? Did your real-life wedding go haywire like Seth's? Or might this story have materialized to you in a weird dream, the way that Samuel Taylor Coleridge was inspired to write his classic poem about Kublai Khan? Or were you contractually obligated to fill more than 300 pages with something, anything, and this is what you ended up with?
Barry: All of those things. Also, I attended an outdoor wedding on Key Biscayne and, while I was sitting there staring out at the Atlantic, I wondered what would happen if some rafters drifted ashore. Also, at some point I visited Jungle Island, a Miami tourist attraction that has orangutans, and it occurred to me that I could write a story with an orangutan in the role of one of the romantic leads.
Q: When you write a novel in which situations spiral out of control, do you know in advance where it all will wind up? Or are you winging it and hoping to find someplace safe to land at the end?
Barry: I knew how I wanted it to end. I was not sure how I was going to get there. I'm still not sure how I got there.
Q: What is it about Miami that makes it such an "insane" city?
Barry: People come here from all over the world - to work, to party, to commit felonies, to seek elective office, sometimes to do all of these things simultaneously. So you have a wide range of residents, coupled with humidity and many large non-native snakes. And drugs. It is not a recipe for normality.
Q: Do you have any insights into why weddings bring out the 'Zilla in brides? Why they cause members of "Groom Posses," as you call them, to become drunken adolescents?
Barry: Weddings make women crazy. There are few exceptions to this. And youngish men will avail themselves of any opportunity to be immature.
Q: What's your beef with lactose (which you describe in the book as "evil," "death" and "Glenn Close in that movie where she stalks whatshisname and boils his daughter's rabbit")?
Barry: I'm fine with lactose. I was merely noting in the book that lactose and gluten have somehow become the Pol Pot and Hitler of the nutritional world.
Q: When you write humor, is there any line that you refuse to cross? And how often do you cross that line anyway?
Barry: There are topics I don't think are suitable for humor, or at least my humor. And context is important. Jokes that might work in a book could be totally inappropriate for a newspaper column. I'm assuming that people who read my books are not expecting me to be tasteful.
A 'City' designed for laughs
Humorist Dave Barry has produced his first solo adult novel in more than 10 years, and it's hysterical. In a story reminiscent of "The Hangover" films, Seth is marrying a woman who is drop-dead gorgeous, and his buddies have the ultimate bachelor party planned.
The Groom Posse has wild ideas that involve strippers and alcohol while cavorting about the city of Miami. A misadventure inside a cab starts them on a different path that connects them with some Russians, a stripper demanding a gratuity and a giant bald man named Duane with a Burmese python named Blossom around his shoulders. The madness starts quickly and continues to escalate until the story's surprising end.
A twist in the laugh-fest involves a look at the plight involving refugees from Haiti and Cuba and the real horror they experience trying to make it to the United States. The transition between the humor and Laurette, a Haitian with two children trying to make it to Miami, proves a bit jarring, but ultimately hopeful.
Barry obviously wrote "Insane City" as a means of delivering jokes, and sometimes the humor sacrifices the characters. But the novel is designed for laughs, and it's quite funny. This is another winner from Barry, though the city of Miami might be upset, since it's definitely not an endorsement for tourism.
- By Jeff Ayers, Associated Press
Original Print Headline: Barry delves into Miami madness
Dave Barry's newest novel, "Insane City," features pimps, a python and an orangutan named Treveor. Tulsa World file