Monday, November 29, 2010

Recommended escapist read: Star Island

by Carl Hiaasen
Find it in the catalog!

This book definitely pokes fun at the extreme nature of celebrity culture today. 22-year-old Cherry Pye is a fading pop star and former child actor of a Nickelodeon TV show. She is about to release her second comeback album and go on a tour, despite her drug/alcohol problems (which her mother insists on calling "gastritis") and the fact that she can't sing at all. Her team of handlers employs a look-alike, Ann DeLuisa, who they call on to distract the paparazzi so that they can transport Cherry to rehab/the hospital anonymously. Cherry Pye is dating a young actor, also very into drug scene, who is working on the latest Tarantino movie and lives on Star Island. When Cherry's bodyguard quits, he is replaced by Chemo, a tall, cold man with severely damaged skin and one good arm. In place of a second arm is a concealed weed wacker which he uses to intimidate people. Paparazzo Claude "Bang" Abbott wants to have a photograph session with Cherry, believing not only that she is on her way to destroying herself but also that her post-death status will be comparable to that of Marilyn Monroe. After discovering that Cherry's family has duped the paparazzi with the lookalike, Abbott kidnaps Ann in an attempt to negotiate for time with the celebrity herself. Hiaasen also intertwines a plotline involving a man named Skink who lives in the Florida swamps. He involves Ann in one of his cons and subsequently becomes the person she calls for help when she is kidnapped.

Anyone who even occasionally reads People or US Weekly should be able to catch all of Hiaasen's name-dropping. If you are fed up as it is with celebrity stories, then you probably do not want to read this fictionalized account. But if you are in the mood for something slightly wacky that is unforgiving in its portrayal of celebrity life, I recommend you read Star Island.  Although the book lagged a bit after Ann's kidnapping and I expected more from the ending, overall I still found the book to be entertaining.