Now meet Cherry again: in the person of her "undercover stunt double," Ann DeLusia. Read more...
Now meet Cherry again: in the person of her "undercover stunt double," Ann DeLusia. Ann portrays Cherry whenever the singer is too "indisposed"--meaning wasted--to go out in public. And it is Ann-mistaken-for-Cherry who is kidnapped from a South Beach hotel by obsessed paparazzo Bang Abbott.
Now the challenge for Cherry's handlers (uber-stage mother; horndog record producer; nipped, tucked, and Botoxed twin publicists; weed whacker-wielding bodyguard) is to rescue Ann while keeping her existence a secret from Cherry's public--and from Cherry herself.
The situation is more complicated than they know. Ann has had a bewitching encounter with Skink--the unhinged former governor of Florida living wild in a mangrove swamp--and now he's heading for Miami to find her . . .
Will Bang Abbott achieve his fantasy of a lucrative private photo session with Cherry Pye? Will Cherry sober up in time to lip-synch her way through her concert tour? Will Skink track down Ann DeLusia before Cherry's motley posse does?
All will be revealed in this hilarious spin on life in the celebrity fast lane.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2010-07-05
- Reviewer: Staff
The career of singer Cheryl Bunterman (aka Cherry Pye), who debuted with Jailbait Records at age 15, is foundering due to her lack of talent and indiscriminate appetite for drugs, booze, and sex in this outrageous, offbeat novel from Hiaasen (Nature Girl). Among those struggling to keep Cherry's career afloat are her mother, Janet Bunterman; producer Maury Lykes; and "undercover stunt double" Ann DeLusia, who will, say, mislead the press into thinking Cherry is out and about when she's really in rehab. Hiaasen has easy targets in misbehaving celebrity sightings, tabloid stalkings, and spin control experts, and he makes the most of them. Crooked real estate developer Jackie Sebago and paparazzo Bang Abbott, who plans to hitch his wagon to Cherry's star, add to the madcap fun. Mayhem follows after Bang kidnaps Ann instead of Cherry by mistake, and ex-Florida governor and eco-vigilante Clinton "Skink" Tyree, who was smitten with Ann after a chance encounter, rushes to her rescue. The torrent of pop culture barbs are bound to please Hiaasen's ardent fans. 500,000 first printing; 12-city author tour. (Aug.)
Hiaasen at his outlandish, outrageous best
The key line in Carl Hiaasen's latest exercise in wackiness, Star Island, is uttered by a state trooper investigating a hijacked busload of development investors. He's found one of them tied to a poisonwood tree with a sea urchin crammed into his underpants. As the trooper puts it, "I bet this never happens in Missouri."
Indeed. The events that occur in Hiaasen's novels could never credibly be imagined to occur anywhere other than Florida. His combined fictional output, in fact, goes a pretty long way toward justifying the existence of Florida: if nothing else, the state is entertaining. But Hiaasen is also a journalist, and even his most outlandish plots have an edge of social critique.
Star Island might not even be one of his most outlandish plots. (There's a fair amount of competition.) It pretends to be about an off-the-rails young starlet named Cheryl Bunterman, aka Cherry Pye, a pop singer without voice or musical talent. Really, though, the heart of the book is Cherry Pye's body double, Ann DeLusia, an aspiring actress whose steady job is to show up at key places and seem to be Cherry Pye when the real Cherry Pye is in rehab or on her way there.
No one aside from Cherry's parents, agent, and bodyguard knows about Ann. So when a sleazy paparrazzo becomes obsessed with Cherry and decides to kidnap her one night . . . well, you can probably guess what happens, but there's no way to predict what happens after that. Or before it, actually. Hiaasen cuts loose and goes wild with the story, but he never loses control of the many characters; the reader is often amazed but never confused.
If there's one quibble, it's that the bad guys are a little cartoonish—the aforementioned developer of the urchin in the pants, for example, is irredeemable to the point of cliche; the agent is strictly slimeball; Cherry's mother is a stock stage mom, only worse; and Cherry herself is dim and boring. The two main semi-villains—the sleazy photographer and Cherry's bodyguard, who has a weed-whacker for an arm—are deeply and fascinatingly weird, but the former is believable while the latter is just slightly too strange to believe.
But the good guys are so well conceived that this hardly matters. Ann is cool and smart, with loads of moxie, and it's no wonder even the bad guys end up liking her. Then there's Skink, deranged prankster and former governor, who becomes Ann's champion after first kidnapping her at gunpoint. Through the two of them, Hiaasen shames the greedy and the shallow and demonstrates that it's possible to preserve one's integrity even in a freakishly hostile environment. Missouri should be so lucky.
Becky Ohlsen is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon.