Monday, January 12, 2015

Roadkill Chronicles -- Carl Hiaasen

During my trip to Florida this week I've been reading Double Whammy by Carl Hiaasen, the first of his books (pub. 1987) about the really quirky character named Skink. The book is mainly set somewhere in Florida not far from the areas I've been visiting. It's a very long murder mystery with lots of cliches, like pretty but dumb women who throw themselves at the central detective-type character. Pretty amusing, sort of out of date with regard to women.  I liked Bad Monkey, his more recent book, better.

One of Skink's most bizarre habits is eating road kill. During the book, he collects fresh opossum, squirrel, rabbit and even armadillo, which he carefully cooks over an open fire. I was going to get direct quotes but actually they are kind of gross! Skink also eats minnows live right out of the bait bucket, and he is close friends with a gigantic large-mouth bass. (The plot of the book is about bass-fishing tournaments, but I'll skip that part.)

What I liked best about Double Whammy was how much the author (and the more sympathetic of his characters) hated the way the natural world of Florida had been destroyed by truly cynical developers who ripped out the natural vegetation, ruined the marshes, dunes, and beaches, and polluted the waterways. The strange behavior of Skink is attributed to how much he had wanted to stop development and ruination of the landscape, and how he had failed.

Going into the wildlife refuges is a contrast to the overdevelopment that, as Hiaasen illustrates, has been so common in Florida, and when trying to find the remnants of the once-abundant bird life here you definitely are aware of it. And there certainly is a lot of road kill around -- though it's mostly vultures, not eccentric and reclusive literary characters that devour it. I thought that it was a very interesting thing to see these impressive birds of prey that circle around everywhere. So here are a few scenes from our travels in Florida to complement my reading:

Black Vultures eating a wild boar (Skink never gets one of these!)
Vultures eating a raccoon, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge
A shore bird eating someone's rejected fish catch,
Hobe Sound National Wildlife Refuge.

1 comment:

Debra Eliotseats said...

Haunting pics, Mae.