Aces: Carl Hiaasen’s The Downhill Lie

Carl Hiaasen is funnier than watching a herd of cows trying to sing “Feelings” a cappella.

I’ve been a huge fan of his novels for years, which manage to combine vivid description of the wilder parts of Florida (and by wild, I mean “natural,” as opposed to college girls on spring break) with world-weary heroes and absolutely loony, not-too-bright villains. For people who haven’t yet discovered Hiaasen, start with my personal favorites, Tourist Season (introducing one of my all-time favorite characters, Skink) and Skin Tight, which will have you looking at weed whackers in an entirely new light.

Still, Hiaasen’s most recent book is a memoir about his bipolar relationship with golf, entitled A Downhill Lie: A Hacker’s Return to a Ruinous Sport. Anyone who has ever taken up the game or been widowed by a significant other who has taken up the game is going to love this book because it’s all about golf and why we continue to play it even when we’re just not that good at it. But you don’t have to be all that conversant in the sport to enjoy the book. A Downhill Lie actually resonates with a lot of emotion, stemming around the relationship Hiaasen had with his father, the memories of his dad, and the relationship Hiaasen is now forging with his young son – and how golf acts as the fulcrum that supports these relationships.

Now, lest you think I’m going all Field of Dreams on you, let me remind you that Hiaasen is a funny funny man. He can out-simile the best of them, and does in this book:

My first major mistake was prematurely asking to join my father for nine holes, a brisk Sunday outing during which I unraveled like a crackhead at a Billy Graham crusade.

Hooking a new Pro VI [golf ball] into the drink is like totaling a Testarossa while pulling out of the sales lot. It makes you want to puke.

After finishing this read, no matter whether you’re a weekend golfer, gave up the sport, or have never wanted to hold a golf club in your life, you’ll come away with the same conclusion: you made the right decision.

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