Review

Orange Crush

by Tim Dorsey



I promise I won't dump on the good people of Florida during this
review of ORANGE CRUSH, Tim Dorsey's new novel, which, by
happenstance, is set in...Florida. I've heard all the jokes and
passed 'em along and, yep, I've even seen the new Florida voting
booth, which is a mockup of the Playschool farm, where you match
the blocks with the appropriately shaped openings. But the folks in
Florida aren't any dumber than the folks in Chicago, or New
Orleans, or Cleveland, or a half-dozen other cities I can name. All
I can say is that if I ever run for office, I won't cry that I lost
because my constituency was so stupid that they couldn't handle a
ballot. The only problem, however, is that Dorsey quite handily,
and hilariously, dumps on the good citizens of the Sunshine State
and their intellectual capacity throughout ORANGE CRUSH.

Dorsey is often compared to Carl Hiaasen, who has mined similar
territory famously and repeatedly in his many novels. The
comparison is an easy one, though not altogether appropriate;
Dorsey's style is somewhere between Hiaasen's and Christopher
Buckley's, and that's not a bad place to be, not at all. Unless, of
course, you're married to me and you're finding places to hide so
that you won't have to listen to me reading passages out of context
from ORANGE CRUSH or listen to me laughing at various points during
the night as I recall others. Yes, Dorsey is quite the card, and
his satire is quite accurate.

ORANGE CRUSH is a mad romp through the state of Florida, dealing
with the 2002 gubernatorial election between the incumbent, the
benighted Marlon Conrad, and his unlikely and somewhat unwilling
opponent, Gomer Tatum. The focus here is primarily on Conrad, who
in the middle of the campaign undergoes a catharsis and begins
violating, rather successfully, every rule of campaigning in the
mythical book. Along the way his campaign bus, the ORANGE CRUSH,
acquires a deadly assassin-for-hire with amnesia, a tennis prodigy
who has suddenly disappeared from the circuit, and a following that
includes no less than three individuals of disparate personalities
and backgrounds looking to knock Conrad off of this mortal coil for
reasons each uniquely their own. Tatum, in the meantime, is
improbably but convincingly guided by Jackie Monroeville, who has
risen above her humble trailerpark upbringings to hitch her wagon
to Tatum's dim star and, hopefully, ride it into the Florida
governor's mansion. Things begin to reach a climax when Tatum
challenges Conrad to a WWF winner-take-all wrestling match in
Tampa...notice that I said begin to reach a climax. Dorsey isn't
even remotely done at that point.

ORANGE CRUSH is satire at its best. It is absurd in spots (such as
between pages 1 and 303) but is nonetheless dead-on, and not just
on elections, either. Dorsey's portrayal of entrepreneur, real
estate developer and NFL owner Helmut von Zeppelin should be
encased under glass and preserved for eternity. As should be the
rest of ORANGE CRUSH.

Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 22, 2011

Orange Crush
by Tim Dorsey

  • Publication Date: April 1, 2002
  • Genres: Fiction
  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: HarperTorch
  • ISBN-10: 0061031542
  • ISBN-13: 9780061031540