Estimated reading time: 6 minutes
Tim Dorsey has distinguished himself as being one of the more gifted authors today when it comes to writing comedy, being particularly good at exploring the domain of the absurd. In Naked Came the Florida Man, we embark on just such a wild adventure alongside our returning hero, Serge Storms. This time around, a scenic road trip leads him on the trail of a local boogeyman, whom Serge believes might be the Naked Florida Man who has been causing havoc in the area.
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Tim Dorsey Pursues the Insane Adventure
Despite humour being one of the oldest evolutionary mechanics we’ve come to acquire over the course of our existence, many people are still fairly terrible at it. As we’ve grown more complex, so have the concepts which make us laugh, to the point where creating humour for public consumption can be an actual career choice.
Tim Dorsey has shown himself to be a cut above the rest when it comes to putting humour on paper, as we’ve already examined once in our previous review of his novel. Today, we’ll be looking at another entry into the Serge Storms series, with the curiously-titled Naked Came the Florida Man.
Revealing in the ridiculous and sometimes violent nature of his life, Serge Storms is preparing to go on a scenic road trip amidst a terrifying hurricane season in Florida. More precisely, he wants to spend his time touring cemeteries with his perpetually-stoned best friend Coleman.
Thus, they begin their grand adventure which includes mass graves and the resting places of famous people, as well as animals in some cases. However, the trip is about to take an unexpected turn in a supposedly haunted sugar field.
Serge learns the local children are afraid of the place, whispering among themselves about the boogeyman in the stalks. The mystery highly intrigues Serge and ever-so-briefly rouses Coleman from his stupor, largely because they have a working theory: the boogeyman is none other than the Naked Came the Florida Man, a maniac who has been wreaking havoc in the area for far too long. Armed and ready with little more than their deep-friend brains and violent proclivities, the timeless duo set out to solve a mystery with more than a couple of unexpected turns.
Masterpiece of Madness in Naked Came the Florida Man
As I mentioned it above, writing humour is a fairly difficult task, much more than most of us tend to realize. There are many keys to it, and in my opinion two of the most important ones are defying expectations and maintaining cohesiveness.
After all, anyone can take a joke down the beaten path, just like anyone can weave together a tale of absolutely incoherent madness. However, not everyone can do what Tim Dorsey does in Naked Came the Florida Man which is diving headfirst into madness while still ensuring it all sticks together rather tightly.
There isn’t any warm-up period or easing into the subject of the story. From the very first pages the hilarity and madness are already starting in full swing, and they don’t let up until the very end. In this sense, this is a fairly intense and fast-paced read, and lesser authors would have made this a rather tiring experience.
Dorsey, on the other hand, has a very good understanding of what it takes to keep his readers entertained as well as following the events of the story: high-quality writing and intelligent jokes, some with more complex set-ups than others. It didn’t take me long to essentially lose myself in the story, at which point the intensity of the madness began to feel normal, to the point where leaving the book back to the real world felt jarring for a few moments.
What I particularly love about it is how very little of it felt senseless; pretty much every moment of insanity has its place in the story and adds something to the plot, even if it is a tiny element. We are seldom treated to a scene or passage designed to make us laugh for the mere sake of it, and in my opinion this kind of purposefulness elevates the humour quite a bit.
The Journey of Two Lunatics
While the humorous components do take the centre stage for most of the story, they are still held together by the fairly intriguing plot and its even more captivating protagonists. The whole mystery surrounding the boogeyman is appropriately absurd, but doesn’t feel out of this world. As a matter of fact, it feels like a logical occurrence in the lives of Serge and Coleman. Additionally, it’s a good excuse to have them driving around Florida, going from one clue to the next and at the same time showcasing the locale in all of its splendour, sometimes seriously and at other times ironically.
The characters of Serge and Coleman, for those who aren’t already familiar with them, add some rather unexpected depth to the entire story, especially the former with his rather clear but legally-unacknowledged mental disturbance. I don’t want to spoil the nature of his character for those who aren’t in the know, but allow me to simply say he isn’t a goofy adventurer nor does he seek to do good in the world. There is a real darkness within him which makes him a much more interesting character than I had anticipated before ever getting to know him.
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As for the plot of Naked Came the Florida Man itself, the investigation moves along fairly quickly and it’s not exactly uncommon for elements to be introduced and then ditched as soon as they have served their purpose.There is, beneath it all, a cohesive and relatively logical chain of events leading from start to finish, but it tends to be obfuscated by all the insanity attached to it. In the end, I think it’s fair to say this adventure is yet another exercise in lunacy, and sometimes, this is precisely the kind of humour we need to get through the day.
The Final Verdict
Naked Came the Florida Man by Tim Dorsey is a fantastic addition to the Serge Storms series, carrying on the proud tradition of sending the man and his trusted sidekick straight into the mouth of madness. If you enjoy ridiculous humour and like the idea of having it held together by a genuinely compelling mystery, then I highly suggest you check this book out, as well as the rest of the series if you haven’t already.
Tim Dorsey is an American novelist best-known for the Serge Storms series following a mentally-disturbed vigilante with his very own moral code. Some of his better-known works include Florida Roadkill, Cadillac Beach, Atomic Lobster and The Pope of Palm Beach.