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Bad Monkey (Hiaasen) - Discussion Questions

Discussion Questions
Use our LitLovers Book Club Resources; they can help with discussions for any book:

How to Discuss a Book (helpful discussion tips)
Generic Discussion Questions—Fiction and Nonfiction
Read-Think-Talk (a guided reading chart)

Also, consider these LitLovers taking points to help get a discussion off the ground for Bad Monkey:

1. What are some of the issues that Carl Hiaasen, as a satiric writer, takes aim at in Bad Monkey? Start with official corruption, Florida developers...and go from there.

2. Why does Andrew Yancy decide to keep the severed arm in his freezer rather than discard it as the sheriff orders? What prompts his subsquent interest in the case?

3. Hiaasen writes,"Yancy believed that maintaining cultural authenticity was less important than creating a vivid first impression for potential home buyers." Talk about Yancy's stunts to scare off buyers from the unfinished house that could block his ocean view. Over the top? Distracting from the main plot? Or hilarious?

4. Follow-up to Question 3: Are there too many subplots in Bad Monkey? Or do you think, as Janet Maslin of the New York Times does, that even with the proliferation of plots and characters, Hiaasen's novels are "beautifully constructed"? (New York Times, 6/17/2013).

5. One of the methods Hiaasen uses to deliver his humor is his calm, understated tone. Point to some of the lines you find particularly funny in Bad Monkey.

6. What do you think of Driggs? What about some of the other (human) characters—what do you make of them? Do any in particular stand out, one way or another?

7. Is this a comedic novel...or a serious novel?

8. Political commentator and humorist P.J. O'Rourke once wrote that "reading Carl Hiaasen will do more to damage the Florida tourist trade than anything except a visit to Florida." What exactly does he mean...and, once you've figured that out, do you agree with him?

Hiaasen himself said in a New York Times interview with Deborah Solomon,

The Florida in my novels is not as seedy as the real Florida. It's hard to stay ahead of the curve. Every time I write a scene that I think is the sickest thing I have ever dreamed up, it is surpassed by something that happens in real life. (New York Times, 6/25/2004)

If you are familiar with Florida, is either comment (O'Rourke's or Hiaasen's) about Florida accurate, or even fair? Does Hiaasen present a realistic portrait of the state...or a jaded, cynical one? Could this novel (or any of his novels) be written about another area of the U.S., or the world? Or is it somehow peculiar to the Sunshine state?

9. How would you describe Carl Hiaasen's view of humanity? Why does he draw so many of his characters as grotesque caricatures? Do any of his characters earn your admiration or sympathy?

10. If you've read other books by Carl Hiaasen, how does this one compare? Opinions are all over the map as to whether Bad Monkey lives up to, or perhaps surpasses, his previous works. What do you think?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel to use them, online or off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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