We thought there was something funny about this book. But not funny in the usual sense—not the kind of funny that book critics usually describe with words like “hilarious,” “outrageous” or “devilish.” No, something about Sick Puppy, the novel released last month by Knopf, just broke across the tops of our reading glasses in a way that seemed—uncanny. Then it occurred to us: It was Twilly.
You see, Sick Puppy, the latest crime novel by Florida author Carl Hiaasen—which has already been described by critics as “hilariously barbed” and “devilishly funny”—takes as its main character a environmental maniac who takes extreme measures to preserve Florida’s coastlands, a fellow by the name of Twilly Spree. And we wondered: Could there be any connection between this fictive activist and our own environmental maniac, Twilly Cannon (pictured below), who himself has dedicated his career to protecting nature’s bounty as a top-ranked agitator for Greenpeace? Turns out we weren’t the only ones whose minds that thought had crossed. “I’ve been thinking about it since I learned of the novel,” the actual Twilly wrote us recently via e-mail from the Philippines, aboard Greenpeace’s sea vessel Rainbow Warrior. “Twilly in the novel campaigned against Florida waste incinerators—and so did I. So I’m kinda familiar with the ‘teeming swamp of greed’ that is South Florida.” (Even as you read this, in fact, Twilly is caroming around Thailand, combating the use of waste-incinerators there). As for whether he and Hiaasen may have ever crossed paths, Cannon added, he was raising hell in the Sunshine State at about the same time that Hiaasen was working as a reporter in Miami. “And [the novel] is set in the same general period as when I was down there,” he noted. Hmm. Coincidence?
Well, yes, says Hiaasen—or, at least, so say his handlers. Knopf’s Director of Publicity Nicholas Latimer says Hiaasen “was not aware there was a Twilly in your neck of the woods.” Which, of course, doesn’t answer any questions about a Twilly he may have known in his neck of the woods. “He would love to give you a call if he could,” Knopf’s flack adds, “but he is completely overwhelmed and barely had time to call even me.” Seems Hiaasen’s wife just had a baby. No word on what its name is.