Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Book Review: Tricky Business

Book Title: Tricky Business

Author: Dave Barry

Author's web page: http://www.davebarry.com/

Date: 2002

Publisher: Putnam

Length: 320 pages

ISBN: 0399-149244

Quote: "So let me stress that: THIS BOOK CONTAINS SOME BAD WORDS. Or, to put it another way: IF YOU DO NOT WISH TO SEE BAD WORDS, PLEASE DO NOT READ THIS BOOK. THANK YOU."

The "Acknowledgments and Warning" is separate from the plot of this novel, so that's the section that can be isolated and quoted without losing any of its entertainment value. It also highlights the main difference between Dave Barry's novels for adults and the narrative sections in his newspaper and magazine articles. Censorship in general is a bad thing, but censorship of specific bad words only makes writers like Barry funnier. (Admit it: a key passage in Dave Barry Is Not Making This Up gained lots of comedic value from the "more tasteful" substitution of newspaper names for the proper names of body parts...)

Anyway, this is a laugh-out-loud-funny novel about Florida, featuring two wonderful old curmudgeons who sneak out of a nursing home together, a cruise-and-gambling ship, a hopeless rock band, an undercover federal agent, a feminist's daughter who wants to be Sleeping Beauty, a man whose job consists of parading around in a giant artificial shell, a chef and restaurant you don't want to read about on lunch break, a gaggle of sexy-looking casino girls who are tired of being harassed, the dumbest news crew a TV station ever hired, one bad guy who's been reformed by the love of a good woman and of their children, and a lot of unregenerate bad guys who will get what immature guy-type readers will agree they deserve in what those readers will agree is a funny way.

People who are easily offended will probably be offended by what happens to most of the bad guys, because this is not a Sunday School book. They don't repent. They will eventually make their fictional world a better place, but not in a Sunday-School-book way.

Most, though not all, of the nice characters (the ones who kill other people only in self-defense--this is not a Sunday School book) will survive their wild and crazy adventure while the gambling ship rides out a hurricane. Some of them will even bond with each other. The children will be safe throughout the story, although in this story, unlike Big Trouble, this will require the children to be offstage almost all the time.

The average reader probably won't learn anything new from Tricky Business, unless it might be something about the hazards of immoderate laughter. Grandparents are wonderful? You already knew that. Children are precious? Ditto. People who take drugs are usually not too bright while sober, and lose what intelligence they have when stoned? Ditto. Some, as it might be one out of three, hopeless musicians who have moved back in with their parents may be ready to act like adults when they get a chance? Ditto. Young women who are required to look sexy while doing legitimate jobs may be someone's mother, and don't enjoy being confused with streetcorner girls? Ditto, I hope. Gambling ships are run by crooks, and illegal drugs are distributed by really nasty crooks? If that's news to you, you're not old enough to read this web site. Whether exploring these and similar insights in Tricky Business causes you to be looked at strangely in a hospital waiting room, wake up the person trying to sleep beside you on a train, incur additional pain from a broken rib, or conversely feel much less pain from almost any other cause, remains for you to find out.

This web site's bottom price for used books sold online is $5 per book + $5 for shipping. Local lurkers can walk into the store and pay less, and people in other localities can probably find secondhand copies of Tricky Business for less than $10. But if you buy this book from me, Dave Barry or a charity of his choice gets $1, and any profits go into making this a writing site where other deserving writers get paid for their work.