Sick Puppy

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May 01, 2001 | 352 Pages

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  • Ebook $7.99

    May 01, 2001 | 352 Pages

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"Carl Hiaasen once again produces a devilishly funny caper. In Sick Puppy, he shows himself to be a comic writer at the peak of his powers."
Publisher’s Weekly

Author Q&A

A Conversation with Carl Hiaasen, author of  Sick Puppy

Q: You once described Miami as being "the same as ever — hot, crooked, violent and gorgeous."  How is Miami these days?

A: Hot, crooked, violent, gorgeous — and nearly broke. On the positive side, some of the crooks who nearly bankrupted the place have been tossed in jail.

Q: Any good news coming out of the Sunshine State?

A: The alligator population seems to be holding strong. Unfortunately, they’re still vastly outnumbered by humans.

Q: Your latest novel, SICK PUPPY, revolves around the environmental exploitations of your home state by greedy developers. How much "unspoiled" land is left in Florida?

A: Precious little, and what’s left is disappearing at the rate of about 450 acres a day. The only thing that keeps the southern tip of the peninsula  from being completely paved over is Everglades National Park, which is barely hanging on.

Q: What do you think the Everglades or the Biscayne Bay will look like in 20 years?

A: It all depends on what we make our politicians do today. If the federal plan to restore the Everglades is kept as a priority, it’s possible that by 2020 the Everglades and Florida Bay will actually be healthier than they are today. But if the program gets bogged down by lawyers and lobbyists for special interests — developers, organized agriculture, and so on — then the whole ecosystem could start to crash again.

Q:  In SICK PUPPY, the character Palmer Stoat, a political "fixer," likes to go hunting with his cronies for rhinos in Florida game parks. Do these game parks really exist?

A: Unfortunately they do. There are a few in Florida; Texas has the most by far. Exotic animals are shipped from abroad or purchased second-hand from zoos, so that so-called sportsmen can drive up and shoot them, for a hefty price. It’s called a "canned" hunt. The parks are fenced, so the animals can’t really escape. Often they’re so tame, or so old, they don’t even try to run away. The "hunt" is about as sporting as shooting a hamster in a Dixie cup.

Q: What is "Rhino Dust"?

A: The horns of rhinoceroses are illegally poached for use as an aphrodisiac, among other silly things. The horn is ground into a fine (and expensive) powder, and taken with tea or some other drink. Since the horn is actually made of dead crusty skin, it has no medical value for sexual potency — but apparently there are lots of wealthy, vain, incredibly gullible dolts who are willing to try anything. As a result, sadly, the black rhinoceros has very nearly been wiped off the planet.

Q: Ex-governor Clinton Tyree, aka Skink or the Captain, makes a reappearance in SICK PUPPY in a big way. Why did you bring him back in this novel?

A: Readers send me more mail about Skink than any other character, and I must say he’s always been a favorite of mine, too. He is one of those imaginative and honorable subversives, and people admire that. By now he’s getting older and crankier, so in SICK PUPPY  I figured it was about time for him to revisit the governor’s mansion, where he had his big crackup so many years ago.

Q: Your Miami Herald columns were recently published (University of Florida Press) in a collection entitled KICK ASS. Where did the title for this collection come from?

A: The editor of the collection, Diane Stevenson, pulled the title from some interview I did years ago. I was talking about the challenges of journalism in a turbulent, corrupt place like South Florida, and about how a city columnist had an obligation to be tough and aggressive; to kick ass.

Q: What’s next on the horizon for you?

A: I’m starting a new novel, a new family and a new brand of sinus inhaler.  Life couldn’t be better!

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