The 100 Books Project: Big Trouble

I actually finished the book in January, but I haven’t posted my review yet, because I just haven’t been in enough of a ranting mood…

“Big Trouble,” by Dave Barry

It only took five books to get to one I didn’t like. I’m impressed, 2011.

I’m probably being a little rough, though; “Big Trouble” wasn’t a bad book, by any means, and there were even a few parts I liked quite a lot (and there’s nothing like getting a rap song with no actual melody, just a repetition of a dirty phrase getting stuck in your head regardless of it being just text), but I think I was cursed to dislike it through higher expectations and having come across books that did it better (though both took place in California rather than Florida, which makes me wonder if I’m showing a state preference, despite having never been to California). Essentially, what did the book in for me, I think, was the review on the back cover, which I shouldn’t read. Stephen King assures me on the back that he “laughed so hard [he] fell out of his chair.” Meanwhile, inside the jacket, I have Elmore Leonard informing me that it’s “the funniest book [he’s] read in fifty years.”

I hate to say it, Elmore, but you don’t get out much, do you? It was amusing, yes. Funniest book in fifty years? Not while Christopher Moore is alive, my friend. Repeatedly through the book, I found myself thinking that this book would be much better if Christopher Moore wrote it. And as far as looks into the dysfunction of urban living go, I recently read James Fray’s “Bright Shiny Morning,” which was an incredible book, and made “Big Trouble” look like a drunk frat boy’s submission to a creative writing college course. It has its good points, but, over all, it’s trying to hard.

Let’s not ignore that “Big Trouble” was apparently made into a movie in the 2000s, starring Tim Allen. I might just not quite be in its target audience.

And, really, I could forgive the book for being mediocre if it weren’t for the major action that started to culminate half-way through. I rather enjoyed it up until there. I’m all for conflict in a book, obviously; it would be pretty droll if it didn’t have conflict. But I am not one of those people who like to watch movies where things keep getting worse and worse and worse, through idiocy and mistakes and people being general assholes and big fat idiots. It makes me angry. It upsets me and makes me feel like I’m wasting my time and I don’t like seeing the storylines dance on just how terrible things can go. The threat of a nuclear bomb going off and decimating Miami gives a nice Bruce Willis type of conflict, and I’d be okay with that, but when it’s thrown in with the potential torture and rape of a teenage girl who is already the victim of an alcoholic and verbally abusive stepfather, it’s a bit much for me. This is supposed to be funny? The book very quickly ceased to be funny, about half way through, and just got me irritated and annoyed at the ineptitude of everyone involved.

I think what also adds to the books failure for me is that Barry managed to get me almost to the point of really being attached to these characters; I was just about to the point where they meant something to me from his developing of them, and that’s when the shit hit the fan, development stopped, and it was all just action, too many characters, and too many stupid moves building up into a major crisis of ridiculous proportions. I wanted just that little bit more with the characters before they were thrown into that; it could have made all the difference. And then, in the epilogue, all we get about them after the fact is a few sentences of unsatisfying snippets.

Overall, “Big Trouble” was a big disappointment (ba-da-ching). I’d recommend it only if you’re like me and trying to read everything. Or if you haven’t read any Christopher Moore yet, because he does it much better. And with vampires, too!

Books Read: 5 out of 100


    • Hey, there, thanks! I’m always looking for more book suggestions, so if you’ve got a few favourites you’d like to recommend, I’d love to hear about them. I’ve got a gazillion books already, but I’m a complete bibliophile, so the more, the merrier!

  1. “things keep getting worse and worse and worse, through idiocy and mistakes and people being general assholes and big fat idiots” ha! I can’t stand that either.
    I’m sort of disappointed. Dave Barry’s funny in his column, so I would have hoped that a novel would be funny too. But I bet it’s not half as good as Westlake’s Dortmunder novels.
    You know Stephen King is his friend, right? That’s probably how he got that blurb from King [g]

    • Oh, it was funny, deniz, just not…as funny as I would have expected. So disappointing really is a good choice of a word, though I’ve talked to many people who enjoyed Big Trouble immensely, which makes me wonder if I’m being too hard on the poor book or perhaps my humor is just of a different ilk…

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