The Riptide Ultra-Glide
THE RIPTIDE ULTRA-GLIDE is formula writing in the best possible sense. When you get something that is really good and with which you are comfortable, you don’t want change. Remember how well New Coke went over? Have you noticed how the cereals you loved as a kid taste like cardboard now? That isn’t going to happen with Tim Dorsey and his anarchistic chronicles of Serge A. Storms. Take a crazed serial killer with a wide-open imagination and a mission, and his permanently zoned-out sidekick, drop them down in Florida and let ’em rip up and down the highway of their choice righting wrongs and punishing the rude and crude, throw in (after what has to be a tremendous amount of research) a couple of buckets full of fascinating nuggets about the Sunshine State, and you have a new Serge A. Storms book.
"THE RIPTIDE ULTRA-GLIDE will not disappoint Dorsey’s countless readers.... one cannot help but want to arrange an immediate trip to South Florida after reading one of Dorsey’s high-energy, warts-and-all travelogues in the hope of catching a glimpse of Serge and Coleman."
Dorsey may make it look easy, year after year, but I don’t think it is. This latest addition is as manic as its 15 predecessors, and Dorsey shows no signs of rust here. I mean, the issue isn’t how well the dog sings; it’s that the dog can sing at all. In the case of THE RIPTIDE ULTRA-GLIDE, Dorsey hits all of the high notes.
While the book isn’t quite as heavy on Florida trivia as some of the previous installments have been, there is still a great deal of helpful information to be had here, not the least of which is the extremely crucial difference between Florida’s U.S. 1 and Highway A1A, particularly between fabled Fort Lauderdale and marvelous Miami Beach. The meat of the novel takes place on that stretch of U.S. 1 --- known as the Federal Highway --- as Storms begins his latest gonzo project, which is to film a reality television series starring himself and Coleman, his cosmic second-in-command. Interestingly enough, the duo finds that Coleman has become a bit of a folk hero to the more zoned-out denizens of the Federal Highway, blessed with what one could call an A-List recognition factor.
Fans of the series need not fear, Coleman’s new status notwithstanding. THE RIPTIDE ULTRA-GLIDE is solidly within the framework of the series that Dorsey has been constructing since Book One. Among the topics lampooned, skewered and lambasted are airlines, pill mills, scam artists who prey on the lonely and elderly, cheap hotels with absentee owners, the Dixie Mafia, Mexican drug cartels, and souvenir shops.
You will find stranded in the midst of all of this a pair of blissfully wedded but laid-off teachers named Pat and Bar. The couple has used their unexpected employment termination as a reason for a south Florida vacation. It seems that Pat lived near Fort Lauderdale as a wee lad and thinks that the change of scenery and climate would be a good reward for them. The comedy of errors begins when Pat books a motel with a rate that is seemingly too good to be true, believing that U.S. 1 and Highway A1A are one and the same. Such innocence. They are quite different, as the unlucky couple soon finds out, even as everything that can go wrong on a vacation does --- and in some of the worst possible ways. Eventually, their collective path crosses that of Serge and Coleman, and if their vacation isn’t totally salvaged, at least they get to escape with their lives --- and just maybe a little something more.
THE RIPTIDE ULTRA-GLIDE will not disappoint Dorsey’s countless readers. While the manic madness and extreme political views of the principal character is definitely not for everybody, what is undeniable is that one cannot help but want to arrange an immediate trip to South Florida after reading one of Dorsey’s high-energy, warts-and-all travelogues in the hope of catching a glimpse of Serge and Coleman. Or, at least, their archetypes.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on February 22, 2013