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Native Tongue

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Overview

When the precious clue-tongued mango voles at the Amazing Kingdom of Thrills on North Key Largo are stolen by heartless, ruthless thugs, Joe Winder wants to uncover why, and find the voles. Joe is lately a PR man for the Amazing Kingdom theme park, but now that the voles are gone, Winder is dragged along in their wake through a series of weird and lethal events that begin with the sleazy real-estate agent/villain Francis X. Kingsbury and can end only one way...

...

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Native Tongue

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Overview

When the precious clue-tongued mango voles at the Amazing Kingdom of Thrills on North Key Largo are stolen by heartless, ruthless thugs, Joe Winder wants to uncover why, and find the voles. Joe is lately a PR man for the Amazing Kingdom theme park, but now that the voles are gone, Winder is dragged along in their wake through a series of weird and lethal events that begin with the sleazy real-estate agent/villain Francis X. Kingsbury and can end only one way...

Precious blue-tongued mango voles have been stolen from the Amazing Kingdom of Thrills amusement park, where burned-out ex-reporter Joe Winder is now P.R. man. Now it's up to Joe to find out who the thieves are.--New York Times Book Review. Reissue.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Hiassen sends his reluctant journalist hero after a morally corrupt real estate developer in this scattershot but inventive entertainment. Nov.
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.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446613200
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/28/2004
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 496
  • Sales rank: 115,169
  • Product dimensions: 4.25 (w) x 7.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Carl Hiaasen
Carl Hiaasen
In his thrilling and hilarious mysteries, Carl Hiaasen does for the Florida Coast what Raymond Chandler did for L.A., embracing it in all its steamy surrealness, and elevating it to a kind of iconographic literary landscape.

Biography

When one thinks of the classics of pulp fiction, certain things -- gruff, amoral antiheroes, unflinching nihilism, and a certain melodramatic self-seriousness -- inevitably come to mind. However, the novels of Carl Hiaasen completely challenge these pulpy conventions. While the pulp of yesteryear seems forever chiseled in an almost quaint black and white world, Hiaasen's books vibrate with vivid color. They are veritable playgrounds for wild characters that flout clichés: a roadkill-eating ex-governor, a bouncer/assassin who takes care of business with a Weed Wacker, a failed alligator wrestler named Sammy Tigertail. Furthermore, Hiaasen infuses his absurdist stories with a powerful dose of social and political awareness, focusing on his home turf of South Florida with an unflinching keenness.

Hiaasen was born and raised in South Florida. During the 1970s, he got his start as a writer working for Cocoa Today as a public interest columnist. However, it was his gig as an investigative reporter for The Miami Herald that provided him with the fundamentals necessary for a career in fiction. "I'd always wanted to write books ever since I was a kid," Hiaasen told Barnes & Noble.com. "To me, the newspaper business was a way to learn about life and how things worked in the real world and how people spoke. You learn all the skills -- you learn to listen, you learn to take notes -- everything you use later as a novelist was valuable training in the newspaper world. But I always wanted to write novels."

Hiaasen made the transition from journalism to fiction in 1981 with the help of fellow reporter Bill Montalbano. Hiaasen and Montalbano drew upon all they had learned while covering the Miami beat in their debut novel Powder Burn, a sharp thriller about the legendary Miami cocaine trade, which the New York Times declared an "expertly plotted novel." The team followed up their debut with two more collaborative works before Hiaasen ventured out on his own with Tourist Season, an offbeat murder mystery that showcased the author's idiosyncratic sense of humor.

From then on, Hiaasen's sensibility has grown only more comically absurd and more socially pointed, with a particular emphasis on the environmental exploitation of his beloved home state. In addition to his irreverent and howlingly funny thrillers (Double Whammy, Sick Puppy, Nature Girl, etc), he has released collections of his newspaper columns (Kick Ass, Paradise Screwed) and penned children's books (Hoot, Flush). With his unique blend of comedy and righteousness ("I can't be funny without being angry."), the writer continues to view hallowed Florida institutions -- from tourism to real estate development -- with a decidedly jaundiced eye. As Kirkus Reviews has wryly observed, Hiassen depicts "...the Sunshine State as the weirdest place this side of Oz."

Good To Know

Perhaps in keeping with his South Floridian mindset, Hiaasen keeps snakes as housepets. He says on his web site, "They're clean and quiet. You give them rodents and they give you pure, unconditional indifference."

Hiaasen is also a songwriter: He's co-written two songs, "Seminole Bingo" and "Rottweiler Blues", with Warren Zevon for the album Mutineer. In turn, Zevon recorded a song based on the lyrics Hiaasen had written for a dead rock star character in Basket Case.

In Hiaasen's novel Nature Girl, he gets the opportunity to deal with a long-held fantasy. "I'd always fantasized about tracking down one of these telemarketing creeps and turning the tables -- phoning his house every night at dinner, the way they hassle everybody else," he explains on his web site. "In the novel, my heroine takes it a whole step farther. She actually tricks the guy into signing up for a bogus ‘ecotour' in Florida, and then proceeds to teach him some manners. Or tries."

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    1. Hometown:
      Tavernier, Florida
    1. Education:
      Emory University; B.A., University of Florida, 1974

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 34 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 34 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2006

    Florida, my Florida

    Almost all Hiassen's books are set in Florida, complete with those who want to destroy that environment, from the coast to the everglades, and also come complete with some of the oddest characters you'll ever find in fiction. Yet all his books are different and new. How does he do it? A remarkable imagination and writing from the heart about a place he knows and loves.

    7 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 14, 2004

    Hang On To Your Seats!

    A typical family is on their way to the Amazing Kingdom in Florida when suddenly, someone in a blue pickup truck flings something out of the truck and onto the back seat of their rented Chrysler LeBaron. Thus begins the wild and crazy convergence of blue- tongued mango voles, senior citizen eco-guerillas, a burnt-out ex-reporter, two inept thieves, an ex- governor turned ecological avenger, and a former mob informant who is now one of the sleaziest and richest land developers in all of Florida. When the last two blue-tongued voles in existence are stolen from the Amazing Kingdom, Joe Winder is assigned the task of spinning the story into the standard drivel consistently served up to the media by his bosses. Joe was once an investigative reporter, and he now feels as if he has sold his soul as he fabricates the lies promulgated by the PR machine at his new job. Bud and Danny are the two thieves who stole the voles at the behest of Molly McNamara. Molly is a deceptively innocent-looking senior citizen who hired Bud and Danny to kidnap the voles. She is extremely upset when she discovers that both voles have met untimely ends before reaching her. Molly is the head of Mothers of Wilderness, a group bent on stopping the desecration of Florida's land and animal population by any means available. Francis X. Kingsbury, who owns the Amazing Kingdom, once ratted on the mob and is now living under an assumed name and identity. Francis X struck it rich by developing land in Florida in questionable deals. He then built the Amazing Kingdom - glossy and insipidly cheery on the outside, stinking like a sewer just beneath the surface. And then there is Skink, ex-governor of Florida who now lives a solitary existence in the swamplands, trying to save what little is left of Florida's undeveloped land. He saves Joe's life early on, then wreaks spectacular revenge upon Francis X and his desecration of the land in the climactic ending of the book. We also meet many minor oddball characters along the way, all pursuing their own interests. While this is a lengthy book, it was easy to read and I often found myself laughing out loud. Carl Hiaasen has a passionate devotion to his beloved Florida and a righteous anger towards those who refuse to acknowledge the value and importance of the fragile ecosystem that sustains it. Joe Winder is the alter ego through whom Mr. Hiaasen can play out his quest for justice and retribution against those who continue to destroy the beauty of the land. I must admit, there are a few scenes that are not for the weak of heart or stomach, and I found myself quickly skimming over them. But I appreciate the author's ability not only to make us laugh, but also to make us think and appeal to our collective conscience about what is happening to our planet and to us as a people. When Bud, one of the thieves, accidentally ends up walking through the nursery of a hospital, he looks at the cooing parents and wonders why people are still having children when the world is in such a mess: More victims, thought Bud Schwartz. Bud then imagines the babies' futures: They would grow up to have automobiles and houses and apartments that would all, eventually, be burglarized by lowlifes such as himself. It is apparent that the author is wearing his heart on his sleeve in this passage as both optimist and cynic. As hope springs forth by the dawning of new life, it bumps up against the reality of our damaged and fractured world. But with Hiaasen leading the charge, there will always be a few laughs to help us along the way. This is a new paperback edition of Native Tongue, which was originally published in 1991. It is a fun and enjoyable read. And, alas, the theme of environmental devastation is as timely today as it was when it was first written.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2000

    The best trip to Florida you will ever have!

    This is the 10th copy of this book I have bought to give as a gift. It is Hiaasen at his best. Great humor! It is for anyone who values America's greatest resource -- the wild open spaces.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2012

    Been there seen that

    Having lived in Florida for the longest 7 months of my life (learning to love housekeeper spiders and avoid any non natives like they were aliens from a golf planets bent on driving on beaches until they were bare) I adore Hiaasen. I only wish his characters were real and ready to save the state!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 3, 2000

    Too long

    Caricature characters, simply put up as stereotypes for the author (author´s voice) to make fun of, can´t carry the weight of this long-drawn novel. And when the leading character becomes more and more simplistic as the stereotype of the loner at the edge of society there isn´t much creativity or depth to keep one´s attention.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 2, 2014

    Wow

    Amazing books, carl!

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  • Posted October 21, 2013

    Need to Read

    A fun adventure with a crazy cast of characters. Hiaasen is a hoot as always!

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