foundations while critiquing reviews of the book. There were four sources used to complete this paper.
In the world of literature most authors are known for their fiction abilities or their non-fiction abilities. It is rare to see an author cross over between the styles and try and do both. Now and again, however there are exceptions and Dave Barry is one of them. Barry is most well-known for his sassy smart mouthed columns that have entertained his readers for many years. Recently however, Barry tried his hand at fiction and the result was a wonderful piece of literature called Big Trouble.
Barry has always used humor to diffuse sensitive topics in his works and he followed the same path when he wrote the fictional work. The plot has many instances of abuse from the abuse of a stepfather to a teenage girl to people cheating their bosses and the bosses wanting revenge (Barry, PG). While many of the issues in the book are emotionally sensitive the humor Barry uses to address those issues make it a book that can be read without being left sad and depressed. For those who want a light read it fits the bill, but interestingly those who want some heavy topics touched will also be pleased. Barry unfolds a story of hit men, businessmen, family strife and love. It is a combination that has worked for all of history and he uses his sense of humor to place a new twist in an old genre (Barry, PG). Barry has always used the what if scenarios for his columns and stand up routine (Barry, PG). He doesn’t let the reader down in his attempts to write fiction either. Florida prisoners being released because the electrically controlled gates are disarmed in a lightening storm and other such antics bring the possibilities to the reader and make for a funny yet strangely plausible story (Barry, PG).
Puggy, the homeless guy who lives in a tree and works at a front shop for guns and bombs to local gangs steals the heart even when he is screwing up.
The book is for anyone who has ever had the day that everything went wrong. The book makes anybody understand they have a better life than they may have believed and it uses humor to show the reader nothing is forever (Barry, PG).
Many critics fell in love with Barry’s novel. One reviewer reminds the reader that Barry studies human nature when he writes. He understands the workings of society and used that understanding to insert humor throughout his novel (Kloer, L15). It is true that Barry understands human nature very well. It is what gives him the ability to write the insightful columns that he does and allows the reader to take his advice because it is delivered in a completely non-judgmental way. Some critics compliment Barry for using thriller leads to entice the reader. He does exactly that and one can almost hear him saying to himself as he writes “What if?” And then running with the idea.
Barry’s use of humor comes in handy when Arnold is fired from a newspaper for having integrity. It is a tongue in cheek slap at the very hand that has fed Barry for decades and it is done with such flair no newspaper executive could possibly take offense (Kloer, L15). This is part of what makes the book a success. He follows his column writing strategy when it comes to the way he presents controversial topics in the novel. Many people have seen a bad situation and wondered what if. Barry uses the what if question to write the entire book. It is filled with examples of what might happen if our what ifs came true in the world. Critics who understand Barry’s style of thinking and writing appreciate the book and its underlying talent. Critics who do not understand or do not appreciate the way Barry thinks often had problems accepting this dive into the world of fiction for the columnist.
Some critics believe the book is an attempt to laugh at the idea Miami is a normal city in America. Because of the many different lifestyles that are to be found in the city Barry works to bring the absurdity to its finest hour in the novel according to critics. While there may be some believability to this theory Barry seems to think the entire world is capable of the goofiness that Miami enjoys. Barry chose Miami because of his familiarity and because it is so diverse but the scenarios he writes about could theoretically happen anywhere in the country (Shaefer, pg 143).
Barry is well-known for his understanding of human nature and his ability to project possibilities to his readers. The country comic Jeff Foxworthy and the savvy jerry Seinfield have both used this technique in their routines. Each of them allows the audience to follow them on a what if adventure. Barry was one of the pioneers of the style and when he turned it to the use of fiction it dovetailed nicely. When one has spent his career examining human nature and societal expectations it is not difficult to turn out a work of fiction that follows the same path. Fiction is considered difficult to write because it has to be believable even though it is fabricated. Barry’s understanding of human nature and societal expectations provided a tremendous understanding of hat is required in any good work of fiction. Barry’s novel is one that can please the skeptic as well as the light at heart. It follows the same type of humor that Barry projects in his columns and allows the reader to fully enjoy the ability he has to weave a story based in the often-ridiculous mores of society.
The book is a lighthearted attempt to reveal what might become accepted acts in society if someone does not do something. At first glance the book appears to be a comedy with a slap stick style to deliver the humor. If one takes another pass and closely examines the truth of the story one will discover that Barry uses his fiction to warn or suggest to his readers what life could be like. Using fiction he portrays a possible lifestyle that might occur if steps are not take to improve what society does about problems such as crime and values. It is a funny novel that is interlaced with strong cautionary hints all hidden behind the facade of being a fictional work.
Barry, Dave. Big Trouble. (Mass Market Paperback, 1999).
Klepp, L.S.” Dave’s World In his frequently hilarious first novel, Big Trouble, Dave Barry strikes comic gold in wacky South Florida..” Entertainment Weekly, (1999, Sept). pp 143+.
Kloer, Phil. “Big Trouble’ yields big laughs in Dave Barry’s debut novel..” The Atlanta Journal and Constitution,(1999): September. pp L15.
Shaefer, Laura. “Dave Barry’s ‘Big Trouble’.” University Wire (2000): January.
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