A snake stars in Carl Hiaasen’s savage takedown of Donald Trump

In Squeeze Me, Carl Hiaasen savages Donald Trump.

Carl Hiaasen sure knows how to lead off a story, and he proves it all over again in a savage takedown of Donald Trump.

“On the night of January twenty-third, unseasonably warm,” he writes, “a woman named Kiki Pew Fitzsimmons went missing during a charity gala in the exclusive island town of Palm Beach, Florida. Kiki Pew was seventy-two years old and, like most of her friends, twice widowed and wealthy beyond a need for calculation. With a check for fifty thousand dollars she had purchased a table at the annual White Ibis Ball. The event was the marquee fundraiser for the Gold Coast chapter of the IBS Wellness Foundation, a group globally committed to defeating Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Mrs. Fitzsimmons had no personal experience with intestinal mayhem but she loved a good party.”

When it soon becomes clear that an intoxicated Kiki Pew was consumed whole at that party by a nineteen-foot Burmese python, we should not be surprised. Because this is, after all, Carl Hiaasen’s Florida. And so begins Squeeze Me, the bard’s literary evisceration of Florida’s most famous mail-in voter, the President of the United States. Make no mistake about it: this novel is Carl Hiaasen’s savage takedown of Donald Trump.

Squeeze Me by Carl Hiaasen (2020) 314 pages @@@@ (4 out of 5)

So, here are just some of the trademark Hiaasen characters who populate this brutal treatment of life at Mar-a-Lago (which Hiaasen translates as Casa Bellicosa):

  • the President and his randy First Lady, who go by their Secret Service codenames of Mastodon (him: “he loves it”) and Mockingbird (her)
  • a Middle Eastern Secret Service agent named Ahmet Yousseff—Mockingbird’s love interest—who has been forced to change his name to Keith Josephson to hide his ethnicity from the President
  • a gaggle of Botoxed, alcoholic, millionaire widows called the POTUS Pussies (better known for obvious reasons as the “Potussies”) who contribute millions to Mastodon’s defense in his second impeachment trial
  • a nineteen-foot Burmese python who devours Kiki Pew Fitzsimmons but receives no thanks for the impressive effort
  • a couple of bungling career criminals who would have made Elmore Leonard proud
  • a malfunctioning Presidential tanning bed
  • and our old friend Skink—who is at least my old friend from reading lots of Hiaasen—the feral, one-eyed, six-and-a-half-foot ex-Governor of Florida who lives on roadkill in the Everglades and subjects environmental evil-doers to grisly poetic justice.

Three mature adult humans live among the sycophants

Happily, there are also three recognizably normal adult humans in the cast of characters.

  • Angela (Angie) Anderson is a wild-animal wrangler who will harm wildlife only under the most extreme circumstances.
  • Jerry Crosby is Palm Beach’s police chief, a happily married veteran officer who spends his days cleaning up the messes of the pampered and entitled creeps who inhabit the mansions of his town.
  • And Jacob Ryskamp, a long-suffering supervisory Secret Service agent who is forced to grit his teeth over the havoc that reigns endlessly within a hundred yards of Mastodon.

This novel will quickly disabuse you of any fantasy that Carl Hiaasen is ready to give Donald Trump any slack. The characters in Squeeze Me variously refer to him as “a soulless imbecile” and worse.

Writing about this book for the New York Times (September 2, 2020), Janet Maslin headlined her review “A Python Ate the President’s Neighbor? Only in Carl Hiaasen’s Florida.” She also noted “If you are wearing a MAGA anything, you won’t like this book.”

For further reading

Carl Hiaasen is one of my favorite authors. I’ve read most of his nineteen adult novels and several of those he wrote for young adults. My reviews of the adult novels on this site include:

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Owner of this computer - 7 months ago

Mal Warwick on “Squeeze Me” review

Mal, I often don’t agree with your taste in books, but I do read your stuff when something catches my eye.

I just found out about Carl Woodward’s new book, and, oh, shit, I don’t want to see it in writing. I knew he was like that, because I’m from CT, and grew up reading about him in the papers, and seeing him on the news. When he went to tv with The Apprentice, after having watched all his bankruptcies and financial troubles, to say nothing of his relationships with women, in the news for years and years, I just shook my head.

It’s too bad that the people that need to read that book, can’t.

I’ve been contemplating about how golf has made one of the most enormous shit-piles of men and money since it was brought to these shores, and only blacks got to caddy. Will Smith taught me a little about that. But, it was made so prettily, the message was nearly lost.

Even Barack Obama had to play golf to get elected.

Don’t beleive me?

When I was growing up, the press made much ado about Ike and JFK taking time to play.

I got to thinking: Is there a POTUS or SOH or SCOTUS or Majority or Minority Leader who doesn’t? Talk about the ‘old boy network.’

Back in the ’80s or ’90s, I was lucky enough to watch George Carlin talk about golf courses. It changed my way of thinking, and that persists to this day. The arrogance, the exclusivity, the ‘old school tie’ snobbery of the Brits, alive and thriving in the rebellious US of A.

And now, we have the biggest faker of all time, the self-proclaimed ‘King of the Golf Clubs’ of the entire planet, in charge of the largest military strength in the universe as we know it. lol

Men. Ruled by a little white, of course, white, dimpled ball that they hit as hard as they can, and try to prove that they have more than the next guy, not to mention the handicap.

Damn, what a waste of human endeavor.

So, I’m looking forward to ‘Squeeze Me.’
Carl Hiaissen has never been at the top, middle, nor even within the last 10% of my reading list, but, maybe, just maybe…..

Then, maybe not.

I’m glad you changed your profile photo. I’m probably as old as you, and I refuse to post an old photo. I am the oldest I’ve ever been, and it’s older than most people that I meet these days.

They should live so long.

Yeah, an East-Coast ‘elite’ saying. lol.

Be well. I’m totally loving quarantine. The world doesn’t need me out and about. I need to read, digest, and write. Even if only for my own enjoyment.

As do you, I’m guessing.

What a long, strange trip it is!

RichP - 7 months ago

It is good to know Hiaasen is still in fine form. I have slowed down a lot on reading his books because I already know his message that lies behind the story, and would rather spend my time on stuff I know less about, but I sometimes like entertaining tales that require little mental effort.

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