Here’s a good book resembling THE FRINGE HIKERS in many ways!
STORMY WEATHER has an ensemble cast of misfits, a sequence of disasters and misfortunes, and an outdoor setting. Where it differs from FRINGE HIKERS is in the use of black humor, violent crime, and even more chaos than the Fringe! Where THE FRINGE HIKERS centers on the cosmological philosophy of the Fringe, Hiaasen’s novel brings up more mundane topics like environmentalism, but also man’s forgotten connection to the environment.
I picked it up because it promised some good stormy disasters. That turned out to be my favorite part of the book. It’s set in the aftermath of a Floridian hurricane, so there’s plenty of reason for disasters to befall the characters. Hiaasen’s characters also manage to bring a lot of disaster upon themselves. I’m impressed with the way he managed to line up so many catastrophes of different varieties, one after the other, without a drop in pacing or even so much as a break between conflicts. Some are funny, some are more serious.
The characters are perhaps a little less focused. It’s almost like a slice of their lives at this point in time, with no guarantee they’ll resolve anything. The only guarantee is that they’ll get drawn in to the mess. The ending is abrupt for a lot of the characters, and then you get a paragraph of epilogue for each one.
Which character brings the storm? Who is the source of all this bad luck? It’s gotta be Edie and Snapper, the two criminals who blunder from one scam to another, trying to take advantage of the hurricane victims. Snapper in particular is loutish and stupid, so there’s no question he is the direct cause of many of the disasters.
But the character from Hiaasen’s other novels, Skink, seems to me a more supernatural force of calamity. He revels in being a walking disaster. He ties himself to a bridge and laughs as the storm hits. He lives in the swamps, a Chaotic Good outlaw and environmentalist. He eats roadkill by choice. He feels in charge of every situation despite the inevitable disastrous destiny looming over each interaction. He appears as a side character but he makes the whole book worth reading.
I haven’t read any other books by Hiaasen, so if any blog readers have done so, let me know in the comments! Let me know which titles dig more into the philosophy of Skink, or the universal nature of black humor, or anything like that which could be relevant to THE FRINGE HIKERS.