“Rollicking adventure” is one of those ridiculous terms that no one actually says in normal conversation but which reviewers love to use (“madcap romp” and “laugh-out-loud hilarious” are some other favorites). I hate to use such a cliché when describing Dave Barry’s Insane City. However, that is the perfect way to describe the Pulitzer Prize-winning humorist’s latest book.
Insane City could’ve have easily just been a literary version of The Hangover — a tale that includes wild animals, drug-fueled antics, criminals, stolen cop cars, and a groom that is running out of time to make it to his wedding. But anyone who’s ever read Dave Barry should know he would never tell a story that isn’t in its own category — and laugh-out-loud hilarious. He established a devoted fan base with his Miami Herald column long before anyone even heard of Zack Galifianakis, Ed Helms, or Bradley Cooper.
In Insane City, Professional tweeter Seth Weinstein is about to marry the perfect woman. His fiancé Tina is gorgeous, wealthy, and dedicated to saving the lives of all those who aren’t lucky enough to have a billionaire as a father. Seth still hasn’t quite figured out how he managed to land her. Sure he’s good-looking and, according to Tina, pretty funny, but having graduated from a mediocre college and moved into an even more mediocre job, those two assets don’t seem like enough to win over the woman that every man wants. But Seth is done questioning why and is embracing the fact that his dream girl loves him — even if her parents don’t. It seems like nothing could ruin his Miami wedding, until he arrives in the city. Within several hours things begin to go wrong and over the next two days things become worse than he could’ve ever imagined. (Floridians shouldn’t be surprised.)
Seth finds himself drunk, passed out under a bar, and abandoned by his friends. But that’s a problem that’s easily solved — grab a cab, go back to the hotel, and sleep it all off. He has two days before the nuptials. So even though Tina may not be thrilled with his drunken antics, he has plenty of time to prepare and repair. But nothing (at least with Dave Barry) is ever that simple.
Along with his groomsmen, Seth’s suitcase has disappeared, and with it the wedding ring. He enlists two new friends, Duane, who has an 11-foot python (doesn’t he know those things are destroying the Everglades?) as his constant companion, and Cyndi, a sexy Miami local and fourth-place winner of the Miss Hot Amateur Bod competition, to help him find the suitcase. Tracking it down soon becomes the least of his concerns when he saves a family of illegal Haitian immigrants, and finds himself running from the cops accompanied by a horny orangutan. All the while, Seth’s hippy parents’ pot brownies fall into the hands of many wedding guests, leading to a whole other comedy of errors that includes one billionaire buying up pizza joints and Chinese restaurants and another billionaire walking around in a flamingo suit.
This all sounds ridiculous, because it is. And that’s what makes it great. This tale, a madcap romp if I’ve ever read one, captures the essence of Miami: sexy, crazy, and self-identified hot mess. Who better to give it to us than Dave Barry?
Dave Barry will appear 1:30 p.m. Sunday at Temple Judea in Coral Gables (5500 Granada Boulevard). Tickets are required for this event. Purchase a copy of the book at Books & Books, and you will receive two.