Novelist Carl Hiaasen's golf recollections don't include any fond memories of hard-won tournament victories or 18th-hole eagles. Instead, he is forced to look back on the strategic problems of retrieving a sunken golf cart from a snake-infest lake or the ignominy of spending shot after shot in the same sand trap. Yet despite these persistent setbacks, the Florida writer actually returned to the sport decades after wisely abandoning it. Was it sheer masochism or perhaps visionary self-deception? Hiaasen's The Downhill Lie might not answer the question, but it does keep you laughing. An uproarious treat for every duffer who wishes he could be Tiger Woods.
Hiaasen (Skinny Dip ), an admittedly woeful golfer, recounts his clumsy resumption of the game after a 32-year layoff. Why did he take up golf so long after quitting at the age of 20? "I'm one sick bastard," he writes. Hiaasen interweaves passages about his return to the game with diary entries covering more than a year and a half on the links. He mixes childhood memories of playing with his father, who died prematurely, with anecdotes, including the time he and a friend ejected an invasion of poisonous toads from his friend's patio with short irons. His analysis of his lessons, hapless rounds and gimmicky golf equipment is hilarious, and his vivid descriptions are vintage Hiaasen, such as golf balls that are designed to "run like a scalded gerbil." Hiaasen also touches on topics he writes about in his novels and newspaper columns, lamenting the overdevelopment of Florida and skewering crooked politicians and lobbyists prone to lavish golf junkets. He finishes his journey with a detailed round-by-round account of his pitiful play in a member-guest tournament on his home course (his discouragement is cheered, however, when his wife and young son joyfully take up the game). With the satirically skilled Hiaasen, who rarely breaks 90 on the links, this narrative is an enjoyable ride. (May) Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Hiaasen, the Miami Heraldcolumnist and author of some hilarious fiction (e.g., Striptease, Skinny Dip), shares his renewed interest in golf in this departure onto the green. He recounts how easy it is to get sucked into the sport, even when trying not to. Better than most, he points out how golfers tend to hope for the quick fix, be it via an instructional tip, new equipment, or even a talisman. What really comes through is how Hiaasen thoroughly and rationally studies an issue such as dimples on a golf ball, realizes that after a certain point the discussion is largely irrelevant, and then buys into the hype anyway. In this, he speaks volumes for all golfers. Written as a diary, Hiaasen's effort can be compared with Turk Pipkin's The Old Man and the Teeand Tom Coyne's Paper Tiger. For sheer entertainment, The Downhill Lieis a very good read. The author's fame and fans may drive demand. [See Prepub Alert, LJ1/08.]
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
“An extraordinary book for the ordinary hacker.”—The New York Times “With biting humor and painfully honest self-humiliation, Hiaasen describes his 1-1/2-year journey into one of Dante's inner circles of hell.”—The Christian Science Monitor“A cleverly written, witty and sometimes wistful look at golf, marriage, human nature and life.”—The Tampa Tribune“Hiaasen's hilarious misadventures on the golf course are all too familiar to anyone who has ever flailed at the ball in futile attempts to conquer a sport that mercilessly strips us of our dignity.”—The New York Times Book Review“The foibles and embarrassments, as well as the joys, of casual and tournament golf ring true....Golfers should love this book.”—Rocky Mountain News“Memoir is new territory for him, but Hiaasen is Hiaasen. Fans of his bizarro novels will find his irony and sense of humor remain unaffected on the links.” —The Florida Times-Union“A return by Hiaasen to his best with the sport of golf providing the venue for his unique wit and biting humor.... You’ll have many laugh-out-loud moments.... If you’ve never read Carl Hiaasen... if you have read him before, this is a wonderful return to the magic (albeit voodoo) that is Carl Hiaasen.” —Decatur Daily“…[Hiaasen’s] insights into the insane lengths a golfer will go to in hopes of a lower score are always entertaining. If you’ve been bitten by the golf bug, you’ll appreciate every moment of Hiaasen’s magnificent obsession. If you haven’t, read The Downhill Lie and laugh at those of us who have.”—Howard Shirley, Bookpage“Golfers in general tend to be self-critical, but Mr. Hiaasen is a self-lacerator. He doesn’t curse or throw his clubs, but he sighs a lot and asks existential questions like, “Why do we do this?” and “Why are we out here?” He plays the way you imagine Samuel Beckett might have played. He can’t go on, but he goes on.”—Charles McGrath, New York Times“His analysis of his lessons, hapless rounds and gimmicky golf equipment is hilarious, and his vivid descriptions are vintage Hiaasen . . . With the satirically skilled Hiaasen, who rarely breaks 90 on the links, this narrative is an enjoyable ride.” —Publishers Weekly “It has taken Carl Hiaasen to capture the essence of a game that, like the bagpipes and the kilt, was invented by the Irish and given to the Scots as a joke. Carl's dementia is kind of exquisite. He lampoons the most banal aspects of stodgy blue-blooded American country-club life. The simple act of buying a set of clubs gets the full Hiaasen treatment, and the guilt-ridden angst of the triangular love-hate relationship between himself, his drop-dead beautiful Greek wife, and the drop-dead-you-rotten-bastard Scotty Cameron putter she bought him, is alone worth the price of one for yourself and another for Father's Day.”—David Feherty