Monday, February 25, 2013

INSANE CITY by Dave Barry

Dave Barry reads his often amusing new novel INSANE CITY, which is a zany ride to the altar for one Seth Weinstein, a ne'er-do-well who's snagged a beautiful lawyer (a flip of the usual plot), but gets involved in more antics than the guys in The Hangover could imagine, including Russian gangsters, strippers and pimps, pirates, a python, a possible gorilla, and a group of powerful businessmen. It's like a big wind-up toy with lots of nutty characters (and a Haitian mother looking to make it safely to America.) Barry takes the characters, winds them up tight, and releases the button to see what happens. What happens is nuts, wrapped up with a coming-of-age denouement that reflects on life, marriage, and Miami, among other locales. The story mostly works, but would have been better had Dick Hill been the narrator instead of Barry himself. As a reader, Barry is a good writer. Meaning that, at least for his novels, Barry isn't a great actor and should leave fiction to those who are. Like Jim Dale, who read his Peter & the Starcatchers, or Dick Hill, who read his Big Trouble. It's okay to read personal memoirs, or non-fiction, but usually (albeit not always) it is the professional actor who should read novels, not the author. This is not to say Barry does a poor job reading, just that others could have been better. Listen to this and to Big Trouble, and decide if you agree.
Update 2018: Jonathan Goldsmith is a funny guy with a hard life Hollywood history story told by him in "Stay Interesting." His wild ride and fame began with an audition for Dos Equis beer. He says he was one of the most killed actors, prior. Shot multiple times, electrocuted, dynamited, hung, you name it. Living out of his truck, delivering supplies around Hollywood, he then went into the audition, looked at all the young guys there, and asked, "Interesting?" He got the part, after pretending to arm wrestle Fidel Castro. Insane City, these days, is Washington, DC, riled over gun control. In my story collection Judge Jury: Hybrid Stories, a prequel to the 2004 movie Collateral, the sociopath played by Tom Cruise is imagined. His history is never told in the film.

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