Carl Hiaasen

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All my humor comes from anger. Satire is terrific therapy. Making people laugh is a joy, but making them think about something serious is the ultimate reward.

Carl Andrew Hiaasen (born March 12, 1953) is an American author and columnist, who wrote (until March 2021) a long-running opinion column for The Miami Herald, for which he has also worked as an investigative reporter. He has also published (as of 2020) twenty-two novels (including five for children and young adults), and several humorous non-fiction books.

Columns and articles

  • Scientists are advancing a theory that human beings have stopped evolving because we've interfered with natural selection. Thousands of years ago, the fittest of the species endured, while the weakest stumbled into tar pits or got eaten by saber-toothed tigers. That doesn't happen much anymore, and consequently—these experts assert—humans are actually devolving, getting dumber and less fit. The hypothesis is bolstered by the popularity of daytime talk shows and psychic hotlines. More empirical evidence is supplied every Fourth of July, when alcohol and explosives are freely distributed among the populace.
    • "Modern world puts evolution into reverse", July 6, 1995 (reprinted in Kick-Ass: Selected Columns)
  • A Ph.D. in microbiology is not necessary to grasp the concept: Clean water is good. Poopy water is bad.
    • "Modern world puts evolution into reverse", July 6, 1995 (reprinted in Kick-Ass: Selected Columns)
  • Local newscasts aired the pollution warnings for days, and displayed detailed maps showing which areas were unsafe for swimming. By dawn's early light on July 4, it was reasonable to assume that almost everybody was aware of the problem, and had relocated their picnic plans to a safe beach. Out of fairness, though, let's say a few sheltered souls remained clueless. Perhaps they didn't have a TV or radio. Fair enough. You pile the family into the car and head across the Rickenbacker Causeway. You park along Hobie Beach, unload the coolers, smear on the sunscreen, dash for the water … and there it is. A sign. DANGER, it says, in English and Spanish. Don't swim here. The water's contaminated! Now comes the moment of truth. You can almost hear Darwin's ghost. Surely these morons aren't going swimming in THAT crap! Not with their kids! Not with a warning sign right in front of their face! Wrong, Charlie baby.
    • "Modern world puts evolution into reverse", July 6, 1995 (reprinted in Kick-Ass: Selected Columns)
  • Eons ago, when man lived in caves, dumb moves were often fatal moves. The quick and the smart survived, the slow and the dimwitted didn't. If one member of the tribe ate a berry and died, the others henceforth avoided those darn berries. Over time, humans advanced and grew sturdier. Not anymore. Now we've got seat belts, air bags, antibiotics and stomach pumps to save fools from their own mistakes. That's all right. Caring for others is one of the nobler traits of our species. The result, ironically, is that the genetic future of mankind isn't so rosy. Stragglers once culled from the herd now (in the absence of saber-toothed tigers) operate motor vehicles, watch Jerry Springer, cavort in pollution and even breed. Darwin would be truly worried. The evolutionary gap between the bacteria and us is closing.
    • "Modern world puts evolution into reverse", July 6, 1995 (reprinted in Kick-Ass: Selected Columns)
  • Most opinion columnists start out as street reporters, an experience vital to understanding how things really work as opposed to how they should. My own approach to the column — drawn from the incomparable Pete Hamill, Mike Royko and others — was simple: If what I wrote wasn’t pissing off somebody, I probably wasn’t doing my job. Take a sharp-edged stand on any issue, and the other side seethes. Show me a columnist who doesn’t get hate mail, and I’ll show you someone who’s writing about the pesky worms on his tomato plants.
    • "With or without me, Florida will always be wonderfully, unrelentingly weird", March 15, 2021 (Hiaasen's farewell column for the Miami Herald)


  • B.D. Harper had not risen to the pinnacle of his profession by making enemies. His mission, in fact, had been quite the opposite: to make as many friends as possible and offend no one. Harper had been good at this. He positively excreted congeniality. (Chapter 3)
  • It was then that he had gotten the idea to invite journalists, but not just any journalists: travel writers. Sparky Harper and the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce adored travel writers because travel writers never wrote stories about street crime, water pollution, fish kills, beach erosion, refugees, AIDS epidemics, nuclear accidents, cocaine smugglers, gun-runners, or race riots. Once in a while, a daring travel writer would mention one of these subjects in passing, but strictly in the context of a minor setback from which South Florida was pluckily rebounding. (Chapter 26)
  • Bass magazines promote the species as the working man's fish, available to anyone within strolling distance of a lake, river, culvert, reservoir, rockpit, or drainage ditch. The bass is not picky; it is hardy, prolific, and on a given day will eat just about any God-awful lure dragged in front of its maw. As a fighter it is bullish, but tires easily; as a jumper its skills are admirable, though no match for a graceful rainbow trout or tarpon; as table fare it is blandly acceptable, even tasty when properly seasoned. Its astonishing popularity comes from a modest combination of these traits, plus the simple fact that there are so many largemouth bass swimming around that just about any damn fool can catch one. (Chapter 2)
  • He won the governorship running as a Democrat, but proved to be unlike any Democrat or Republican that the state of Florida had ever seen. To the utter confusion of everyone in Tallahassee, Clinton Tyree turned out to be a completely honest man. (Chapter 10)
  • "You can't talk to me like that! You just remember who's the star."
    "And you just remember who writes all your lines, and who does all your dull, dull research. Remember who tells you what questions to ask, and who edits these pieces so you don't come off looking like a pompous airhead."
    Except that's exactly how Reynaldo came off, most of the time. There was no way around it, no post-production wizardry that could disguise the man's true personality on tape. (Chapter 5)
  • In the past he had always counted on Christina to worry about the actual nuts-and-bolts journalism of the program. It was Christina who did the reporting, blocked out the interviews, arranged for the climactic confrontations--she even wrote the scripts. Reynaldo Flemm was hopelessly bored by detail, research, and the rigors of fact-checking. He was an action guy, and he saved his energy for when the tape was rolling. (Chapter 25)
  • [Rudy] didn't give two hoots about certification by the American Board of Plastic Surgery, or the American Board of Facial and Reconstructive Surgery, or the American Society of Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeons. What were a couple more snotty plaques on the wall? His patients could care less. They were rich and vain and impatient. In some exclusive South Florida circles, Rudy's name carried the glossy imprimatur of a Gucci or a de la Renta. The lacquered old crones at La Gorce or the Biltmore would point at each other's shiny chins and taut necks and sculpted eyelids and ask, not in a whisper, but in a haughty bray, "is that a Graveline?" Rudy was a designer surgeon. To have him suck your fat was an honor, a social plum, a mark (literally) of status. Only a boor, white trash or worse, would ever question the man's techniques or complain about the results. (Chapter 30)
  • Like everything else at the Amazing Kingdom, the Vole Project had begun as a scheme to compete with Walt Disney World. Years earlier, Disney had tried to save the dusky seaside sparrow, a small marsh bird whose habitat was being wiped out by over-development along Florida's coastline. With much fanfare, Disney had unveiled a captive breeding program for the last two surviving specimens of the dusky. Unfortunately, the last two surviving specimens were both males, and even the wizards of Disney could not induce the scientific miracle of homosexual procreation. Eventually the sparrow fell to extinction, but the Disney organization won gobs of fawning publicity for its conservation efforts. (Chapter 2)
  • Like many wildly successful Floridians, Francis X. Kingsbury was a transplant. He had moved to the Sunshine State in balding middle age, alone and uprooted, never expecting that he would become a multimillionaire. And like so many new Floridians, Kingsbury was a felon on the run. Before moving to Miami, he was known by his real name of Frankie King. Not Frank, but Frankie. His mother had named him after the singer Frankie Lane. All his life, Frankie King had yearned to change his name to something more distinguished, something with weight and social bearing. A racketeering indictment--seventeen counts--out of Brooklyn was as good an excuse as any. (Chapter 5)
  • Reluctantly Jake Harp had agreed to play nine holes. He didn't like golf with rich duffers, but it was part of the deal. Playing with Francis X. Kingsbury, though, was a special form of torture. All he talked about was Disney this and Disney that. If the stock had dropped a point or two, Kingsbury was euphoric. If the stock was up, he was bellicose and depressed. He referred to the Disney mascot as Mickey Ratface, or sometimes simply The Rat. (Chapter 13)

Lucky You (1997)

  • Bodean James Gazzer had spent thirty-one years perfecting the art of assigning blame. His personal credo - everything bad that happens is someone else's fault - could, with imagination, be stretched to fit any circumstance. Bode stretched it. The intestinal unrest that occasionally afflicted him surely was the result of drinking milk taken from secretly radiated cows. The roaches in his apartment were planted by his filthy immigrant next-door neighbors. His dire financial plight was caused by runaway bank computers and conniving Wall Street Zionists; his bad luck in the South Florida job market, prejudice against English-speaking applicants. Even the lousy weather had a culprit: air pollution from Canada, diluting the ozone and derailing the jet stream. (Chapter 2)
  • "In my business, fear is a sane and very healthy emotion. That's because death and disaster aren't abstractions. They're as goddamn real as real can be." (Chapter 5)
  • Chub's real name was Onus Dean Gillespie. The youngest of seven children, he was born to Moira Gillespie when she was forty-seven, her maternal stirrings long dormant. Onus's father, Greve, was a blunt-spoken man who regularly reminded the boy that the arc of his life had begun with a faulty diaphragm, and that his appearance in Mrs. Gillespie's womb had been as welcome as "a cockroach on a wedding cake." Still, Onus was neither beaten nor deprived as a child. Greve Gillespie made good money as a timber man in northern Georgia and was generous with his family. They lived in a large house with a basketball hoop in the driveway, a second-hand ski boat in the garage, and a deluxe set of World Book encyclopedias in the basement. All of Onus's siblings made it to Georgia State University, and Onus himself could have gone there too, had he not by age fifteen chosen a life of sloth, inebriation and illiteracy. (Chapter 7)
  • To meet someone with genuine political ideals was a rarity in Stoat's line of work. As a lobbyist, he had long ago concluded that there was no difference in how Democrats and Republicans conducted the business of government. The game stayed the same; it was always about favors and friends and who controlled the dough. Party labels were merely a way to keep track of the teams; issues were mostly smoke and vaudeville. Nobody believed in anything except hanging on to power, whatever it took. So at election time, Stoat advised his clients to hedge generously by donating large sums to all sides. The strategy was as immensely pragmatic as it was cynical. Stoat himself was registered independent, but he hadn't stepped inside a voting booth in fourteen years. He couldn't take the concept seriously; he knew too much. (Chapter 5)

Hoot (2002)

  • Honey, sometimes you’re going to be faced with situations where the line isn’t clear between what’s right and what’s wrong. Your heart will tell you to do one thing, and your brain will tell you to do something different. In the end, all that’s left is to look at both sides and go with your best judgment. (Chapter 13)
  • At the stroke of eleven on a cool April night, a woman named Joey Perrone went overboard from a luxury deck of the cruise liner M.V. Sun Duchess. Plunging toward the dark Atlantic, Joey was too dumbfounded to panic. I married an asshole, she thought, knifing headfirst into the waves. (Chapter 1)
  • Admiring the silken calfskin sheaths, Chaz felt a knot of remorse in his gut. It passed momentarily, like acid reflux. (Chapter 1)
  • At heart Chaz Perrone was irrefutably a cheat and a maggot, but he had always shunned violence as dutifully as a Quaker elder. Nobody who knew him, including his few friends, would have imagined him capable of homicide. Chaz himself was somewhat amazed that he'd gone through with it. (Chapter 2)
  • The dog proved to be as dumb and stubborn as a mud fence, so Stranahan had named him Strom. (Chapter 2)
  • Charles Regis Perrone was a biologist by default. Medical school had been his first goal--specifically, a leisurely career in radiology. The promise of wealth had attracted him to health care, but as a devoted hypochondriac he was repelled by the notion of interacting with actual sick people. Perusing x-rays in the relatively hygienic seclusion of a laboratory had seemed an appealing option, one that would leave plenty of time for recreation." (Chapter 5)
  • It was a buoyant and eager postgraduate who arrived at the Rosenstiel campus on Virginia Key, for he had grandly envisioned himself sailing the lazy tropics on a schooner, tracking pods of playful bottle-nosed dolphins. In this fantasy Chaz held binoculars in one hand and a frosty margarita in the other. (Chapter 5)
  • Chaz shut the door and leaned wearily against it. Of the millions of people who weren't sure which direction the Gulf Stream ran, he was probably the only one to hold an advanced degree in a marine science. (Chapter 6)

Flush (2005)

  • "Please don't grow up to be one of those men who lie for the sport of it, and most men do. That's a fact... That's why the world is so messed-up, Noah. That's why history books are full of so much heartache and tragedy. Politicians, dictators, kings, phony-baloney preachers--most of 'em are men, and most of 'em lie like rugs. Don't you dare grow up to be like that."(Chapter 3)
  • It would have been understandable for a mother at that moment to stare at her spoiled, hapless offspring and doubt herself, or at least feel hobbled with remorse. Yet long ago Janet Bunterman had willingly accepted the role of her daughter's primary enabler, exploiter, and apologist, reasoning that such duties were better handled within the family. The fact that the whole pathetic clan was financially dependent on Cherry was the galvanizing force behind her mother's devotion, though Janet Bunterman preferred a more noble rationalization. Even though Cherry didn't write her own lyrics, and the vocals were shamelessly overdubbed, her music still brought happiness to millions of loyal young fans. It was them for whom Janet Bunterman imagined herself sacrificing so tirelessly. (Chapter 16)

Chomp (2012)

  • Raven sighed to herself. She was accustomed to working around Derek's enormous ego, but there were times when she felt like reminding him that he was basically a tap dancer, not a grizzled woodsman. (Chapter 3)
  • "Lady, do I look like a bleeping babysitter?"
    "He nearly died."
    "Yeah, because he's a fool. There's no known cure for that." (Chapter 6)
  • The pilot episode of Bayou Brethren was a major disappointment, the visual appeal of high-def hog shit having been seriously overestimated by a network vice president who was summarily promoted to a more harmless position. The new network vice president in charge of the project felt the brothers needed a more esoteric vocation, to distract from their unappealing personalities, a view shared by potential advertisers who'd screened the off-putting pilot. (Chapter 1)
  • The show's producers had strategically cultivated a fandom with two distinct segments: those who were cynically amused by the boorish culture of the Nance clan, and those who identified with it. Each week, the writers strived to portray the brothers on a social bandwidth halfway between harmless rednecks and odious white trash. It was a precarious tightwire. (Chapter 14)
  • For all its daring, the plan was also laughably, fatally absurd. Later his mother would tell reporters that it proved she was right about living downwind from the paper mills. All those toxic vapors obviously stewed poor Benny's brain cells. A goddamn squirrel had more sense. (Chapter 19)
  • Buck stared at this degenerate ambassador for his own popularity, wondering how many other Brethren fans were homicidal, nut-job stalkers. Maybe it's time to quit the show and go fishin', he thought for the first time since Blister had removed his handcuffs. Dump the family. Move into the condo with Miracle. He wasn't sure how much money he had in the bank--five, six million bucks? Krystal would grab half, but so be it. An unhurried, unexamined existence looked pretty sweet to Buck--a life free from soggy collard greens, rooster shit, and all those f**king TV cameras in his face. (Chapter 19)
  • She fell asleep anticipating another enigmatic dream. Tonight's feature starred the Commander-in-Chief himself. Angie had been summoned to Casa Bellicosa to unfasten a screech owl from the Presidential pompadour, which the low-swooping raptor had mistaken for a roadkill fox. When Angie arrived, the Commander-in-Chief was lurching madly around the helipad, bellowing and clawing at the Velcro skullcap into which the confused bird had embedded its talons. The owl was still clutching a plug of melon-colored fibers when Angie freed it. Swiftly she was led to a windowless room and made to sign a document stating she'd never set foot on the property or glimpsed the President without his hair. A man wearing a Confederate colonel's uniform and a red baseball cap stepped forward and hung a milk chocolate medal around Angie's neck, after which she was escorted at sword point out the gates. She awoke with renewed certainty that Carl Jung was full of shit. (Chapter 2)
  • At first she had disliked the code name chosen for her by the Secret Service. Then she'd watched a YouTube video about actual mockingbirds, which were crafty, graceful, and melodious. Like me, she thought. Once upon a time. The President's Secret Service code name was "Mastodon." He loved it. "Perfect!" he'd boomed when he was told. "Fearless, smart, and tough!" And enormous, she'd said to herself. Don't forget f**king enormous. On only his second day in the White House, the President had ordered his Chief of Staff to arrange a trip to the National Zoo for a close-up look at a real mastodon. The Chief of Staff wasn't brave enough to tell the President the truth, so he cooked up a story that the Zoo's beloved mastodon herd was on loan to a wildlife park in Christchurch, New Zealand. The President had scowled, muttered something about "those snotty Kiwis" and soon gotten sidetracked by another daft notion. (Chapter 5)
  • "You think he could be right about this Diego kid being involved in the old woman's death?"
    Ryskamp looked up with a rueful smile. "Don't you get it? It doesn't f**king matter whether he's right or not. That's the scary part." (Chapter 10)
  • Mockingbird sometimes found it hard to believe this was the same man she'd married. He looked like a different person now, as if someone had put a fire hose up his ass and inflated him with meringue. His ego seemed to have swollen proportionately. It wasn't that long ago when she'd fallen hard for him. Now he was a raging, gaseous oaf. Gone was any trace of the sly charm and tenderness. In their early years, he could actually laugh at himself, but Mockingbird couldn't recall the last time she'd seen an honest smile on his face. (Chapter 17)
  • Ryskamp stared up at the constellations and took a long, quiet breath. "Okay. What about the First Lady? She weighs a hundred and twenty-one pounds."
    "The python would have to be exceptionally large and hungry," Angie explained, "and the First Lady would have to be exceptionally unlucky. These things aren't like Rottweilers. You can't train 'em to seek and attack." She smiled grimly. "Can you guys believe this f**ked-up conversation?" (Chapter 18)
  • Angie tried not to think much about politics. It didn't seem to matter who was in power. Nothing got better in the besieged, breathtaking world she cared about most. The Everglades would never be the lush, unbroken river it once was; the shallows of Florida Bay would never be as pure and sparkling with fish; the bleached, dying reefs of the Keys would never bloom back to life. Being overrun and exploited was the historical fate of places so rare and beautiful. Every year, Angie diligently wrote checks to the Nature Conservancy and World Wildlife Fund, but she was too much of a loner to jump into the fray. No meetings, no rallies, no Facebook petitions. Never once had she fired off an angry letter to a congressman or a county commissioner. Sometimes she wondered if she was too cynical or just too lazy. The sitting President of the United States was a soulless imbecile who hated the outdoors, but in Angie's view, at this point Teddy Roosevelt himself couldn't turn the tide if he came back from the dead. All the treasured wilderness that had been sacrificed at the altar of growth was gone for all time. More disappeared every day. Nothing ever changed, except the speed of destruction, and only because there were fewer pristine pieces to sell off, carve up, and pave. (Chapter 24)
  • "Okay, Angie, just to be clear," Ryscamp said, clearing his throat, "you're telling me the crazy old f**k fed LSD to a twenty-four-foot killer python?"
    "Look, I know you guys don't train for situations like this..."
    "There's never been a situation like this!" (Chapter 27)
  • "I know you're not a stupid person, so why would you ask such a stunningly stupid question?" (Chapter 28)
  • "'The mind, once stretched by a new idea, never returns to its original dimensions.' That's from Emerson, by the way. All I was hoping to do is stretch some goddamn minds." (Epilogue)


  • I try not to stand on a soapbox and scream. That's boring. You've got to be funny sometimes. All my humor comes from anger. Satire is terrific therapy. Making people laugh is a joy, but making them think about something serious is the ultimate reward.
  • I'm sort of fascinated by America's fascination with rednecks, the whole Duck Dynasty thing. Being a white guy from the South, I find it amazing that so many TV viewers are enchanted by beards, bad dentistry and moonshine accents. Also there’s this false notion that this is a regional phenomenon, when in fact every state in the union has hardcore rednecks. No exceptions.
    • "True-life Source Material Is Fabulously Bizarre", by Adrian Liang; Omnivoracious: The Amazon Book Review. September 8, 2016.
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