Title: Big Trouble
Author: Dave Barry
First published September 13, 1999
317 pages, Mass Market Paperback
ISBN: 9780425178102 (ISBN10: 0425178102)
In the sunny town of Coconut Grove, Florida, chaos ensues: Eliot Arnold, a struggling adman, endures a brutal meeting with a tyrannical client. Meanwhile, his son Matt prepares for a high school game called Killer, where Jenny Herk is his intended victim.
Jenny, hoping for a peaceful evening, settles down with her mother in front of the TV, unaware of the events that are about to unfold. Arthur, Jenny’s alcoholic stepfather with a secret embezzlement scheme, emerges from hiding, enraged.
Two hitmen from New Jersey, Henry and Leonard, arrive at the Herk house for a deadly game of their own. And in the midst of it all, a homeless man named Puggy seeks shelter in a treehouse near the Herk’s yard.
What follows is a series of events that will change the course of everyone’s fate, some for the better, and some for the worse. With his sharp wit, keen observations, and unforgettable characters, Dave Barry delivers a debut novel that is an absolute triumph, filled with twists and turns that will leave readers on the edge of their seats.
About the Author
Meet Dave Barry, a writer who has been making people laugh for 25 years. His column was once syndicated in over 500 newspapers across America and beyond, and in 1988, he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary.
Many people are still trying to figure out how he managed to win such a prestigious award.
Dave has also authored several books, although they don’t contain much useful information. Interestingly, two of his books were used as inspiration for the CBS TV sitcom “Dave’s World,” where Harry Anderson played a taller version of Dave.
Besides writing, Dave also enjoys playing lead guitar in a literary rock band called the Rock Bottom Remainders. The other band members include well-known authors such as Stephen King and Amy Tan.
While they may not be the most skilled musicians, their performances are certainly loud.
You may have also seen Dave on TV, including a memorable appearance on the David Letterman show, where he demonstrated how to set fire to a pair of men’s underpants using only a Barbie doll.
In his free time, Dave is also a presidential candidate. If elected, his main priority would be to seek the death penalty for whoever is responsible for making Americans install low-flow toilets.
Dave currently resides in Miami, Florida, with his wife Michelle, who is a sportswriter. He has two children, Rob and Sophie, neither of whom seem to appreciate his sense of humor as much as his fans do.
Dave Barry’s Big Trouble is a provocative and hilarious novel that delivers a satirical critique of contemporary American society. First published in 1999, it tells the story of an absurdly dysfunctional cast of characters whose lives collide and intersect in a chaotic sequence of events that culminate in a disastrous airport bombing.
Barry, a humorist and Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, weaves together multiple narratives that touch on critical themes such as identity, race, corruption, and greed. The novel’s plot is centered on Eliot Arnold, a middle-aged Miami Herald journalist who gets fired for being accused of plagiarizing an article about chicken soup.
Eliot’s subsequent discovery that his son, Matt, is a witness to a group of thugs committing a murder sets off a chain of events that involves a variety of eccentric and desperate characters, ranging from a bumbling hitman, a corrupt policeman, a millionaire soccer mom, a sleazy lawyer, and a teenage anarchist with a penchant for explosives. Against the backdrop of Miami’s seedy underworld, the story unfolds with wit, suspense, and an unrelenting pace that keeps the reader engaged and entertained.
Beyond its comedic value, Big Trouble also carries a certain social commentary that explores the darker side of the American dream. The novel’s portrayal of the excesses and contradictions of contemporary capitalism, as well as the corrupting influence of power, speaks to larger issues that are relevant even today.
The complex and flawed characters that populate the book mirror the lack of moral clarity and the crisis of values that continue to plague American society. Moreover, the book’s critique of the media and its manipulation of public opinion is also quite topical.
In terms of literary quality, Big Trouble is a superbly written book that showcases Barry’s skills as a master storyteller. The novel’s clever dialogue, irreverent humor, and vivid imagery are all testaments to his talent as a writer.
Moreover, the way he weaves together multiple narrative strands and creates a sense of impending doom is testament to his command of plot structure and pacing. However, one of the book’s limitations is that some of the characters feel underdeveloped, and their motivations or behaviors can be difficult to understand at times.
Additionally, some readers may find the plot too far-fetched or implausible. Overall, Big Trouble is a highly recommended read for fans of satire, crime fiction, or social comedy.
The book’s blend of humor and pathos, its keen observations of human nature, and its insightful commentary on contemporary society make it an entertaining and thought-provoking read. Although some may find it flawed, its strengths outweigh its shortcomings, and it remains a worthy contribution to American literature.
On a scale of 1-10, this book deserves an 8 for its sophisticated storytelling, biting humor, and astute social commentary.