This is the 18th in a series of articles about recipients of the NSNC’s annual Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award.
By Dave Astor
National Society of Newspaper Columnists
Carl Hiaasen is a columnist, novelist, and on the list…of Ernie Pyle Lifetime Achievement Award winners.
The multitalented writer received the honor at our 2010 conference in Bloomington, Ind. – 25 years after he began his Miami Herald column. He had joined the Herald in 1976 at age 23, and worked as a general-assignment reporter, magazine writer, and prize-winning investigative reporter before becoming a columnist.
Hiaasen, a Florida native, began writing novels in the early 1980s with friend and fellow journalist William D. Montalbano. After they co-authored three books, Hiaasen became a solo comic-mystery-thriller novelist.
His first, Tourist Season, was published in 1986. Then came 14 more adult-targeted novels (such as Strip Tease) and five (including Hoot) aimed at younger readers. All were set in Florida, most have been bestsellers, and more than one have been made into films.
The Observer of London called Hiaasen “America’s finest satirical novelist.”
Hiaasen, now 64, has also written two nonfiction books – one of them Team Rodent, which staked out a humorous but “unsparing” position “against the Disney empire and its grip on American culture.”
And, last but not least, there have been three collections of his newspaper columns – which often take on corruption and argue for environmentalism in The Sunshine State. Hiaasen, who could not be reached for comment for this piece, wryly observed on his Web site that his column “at one time or another has pissed off just about everybody in South Florida, including [my] own bosses.”
On another occasion, Hiaasen said he practices “the old school of slash-and-burn metropolitan column writing. You just kick ass. That’s what you do. And that’s what they pay you to do.”
In addition to his columns and novels, Hiaasen co-wrote three songs with his friend, the late musician Warren Zevon.
Dave Astor writes the weekly “Montclairvoyant” topical-humor column for Baristanet.com, blogs weekly at DaveAstorOnLiterature.com, and is the author of the just-released 2017 book “Fascinating Facts About Famous Fiction Authors and the Greatest Novels of All Time: The Book Lover’s Guide to Literary Trivia.”