The Line Between Dark Humor and Just Dark

21 04 2009

I’m reading Carl Hiaasen again. Soon I won’t be able to say that anymore. There’s only one of his crime books I haven’t read at this point.

Reading him is a sort of awe-inspiring thing for me. Hiaasen walks such a fine edge on the line between funny and twisted depravity that I’m not sure how he does it most of the time. How do you write a scene where an old woman is fed to a crocodile and make it funny and horrific at the same time without giving the reader whiplash?

This is an important question for me, as I’m currently plotting my crime novel, which is meant to be humorous, but involves quite a few horrible deaths. Hence, I’m turning to someone who does it well, hoping to learn a few things. What kind of alchemy is needed to make the brutal death of a human being an occasion for laughter, without leaving the reader feeling dirty?