I don’t always try to match my reading to what I’m doing, but when I go to Florida, I try to pack at least one Florida weird book. There was no better novel to bring with me to read on a ferry from Key West to Dry Tortugas National Park, than Carl Hiaasen’s Stormy Weather.
Hiaasen was writing about #floridaman before #floridaman was a thing (and when this – # – was the pound sign). Stormy Weather is set in 1992 in the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew, which is still the most destructive hurricane to have ever hit Florida, and only one of four hurricanes to make landfall in the U.S. still at Category 5 strength. According to the Miami Herald, Hurricane Andrew destroyed 63,000 homes and damaged another 101,241.
Such disasters bring out the best in humanity but also the worst. Fraud flowed into South Florida in Andrew’s wake. That’s where Stormy Weather comes in. From an advertising executive who yanks his new wife away from their Walt Disney World honeymoon to record storm damage to sell to TV stations; to a petty thief who decides to fake owning a home for the insurance money when her plan of snagging a Kennedy didn’t work out; to a thug nicknamed Snapper because his jaw didn’t heal quite right; to a one-eyed misery man named Skink who, well, I don’t want to ruin the surprise for you- it’s a grab bag of cheats and crooks and those pulled into their orbit.
It’s a silly, dark fun time. It made me love Florida and hate Florida at the same time (which is pretty much where I’ve stood on things since heading to college in Tampa in 1998).
Since this is my site and I can write whatever I want, I’m going to also throw this out there: I think Stormy Weather is ripe for a TV or film adaptation, for two reasons:
- We’re in the midst of ’90s nostalgia: there are new versions of ’90s properties like The Matrix, Karate Kid and Duck Tales (which yes ended last year but I loved the reboot, you should watch it), but also the critical success of I, Tonya and what looks to be a hit with the limited run series Pam and Tommy about Pamela Anderson and Tommy Lee. The ’90s are in the news. Florida is always in the news. Stormy Weather would fit right in.
- “Let’s put a bunch of random celebrities into one big movie” type movies are also back in vogue: Knives Out 2 is one of the most anticipated movies of this year, at least in my friend group. Kenneth Branagh is making critically acclaimed films but also continuing to star as Hercule Poirot (with a RIDICULOUS mustache) in his own Agatha Christie adaptations (though he’s got a bit of a marketing problem with two of the actors in Death on the Nile). Stormy Weather is part of a three-book series. Why not coax an actor like Vince Vaughn or Will Ferrell or, if they keep wanting to work in comedy, Chris Hemsworth or Jon Hamm, to play Skink (who is in all three books) and surround him with actors who want to have some fun in the Florida for a few weeks?
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Any Hiaasen on audiobook is one of my first choices for a long run. Edna Buchanan is also near the top of the list.
I forgot he wrote Hoot.