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Crazy from the Heat – Review

By Jim Parisi

Crazy from the HeatWriting humor is a cruel, nasty and thankless endeavor more times than not. Trust me because I have tried. Telling a humorous story in person to a group of people is completely different because the speaker can control the pace, the cadence, the intonation and eventually, the punch line. Writing these same words onto a page, handing it to a complete stranger, walking away and allowing the writing to convey humor on its own takes a leap of faith and a unique storytelling talent for the humorist to succeed. And Matt Casseday has pulled it off.

Sr. Casseday is a fifty-something ex-pat who has been calling Costa Rica home for more than two decades. He has been living in the Quepos area for about half that time and writing columns for Quepolandia, the local monthly magazine there, for more than five years. He recently culled through his collection of articles, selecting fifty-four of them to compile into a publication of his own, titled Crazy From the Heat. I think the operative word in that title is the first one, and I mean that in a good way. Matt takes a wry look at the trials and tribulations of living within another culture, specifically, being a “gringo in Ticolandia”, as he calls it. Sr. Casseday has lived and worked in a few different locales as well as owned a car and a business in Costa Rica, is married with a Costa Rican woman, and in short, has easily garnered enough material for his book with first-hand experience.

Jaime Peligro Books and Music

I’ve lived in Costa Rica for nearly eight years now and I could recognize myself and relate to many of the situations he describes in his stories. At times I found myself literally laughing out loud at some of Matt’s stories. His use of tongue-in-cheek and dry observational humor hooked me in more than once or twice. Certainly, not all the stories tickled my funny bone to the same degree. Humor is an individual taste. But I really enjoyed his piece titled “Gringos in Paradise” which describes four classic ex-pat caricatures. Despite the disclaimer, I swore I had really met each of these exaggerated personalities. I also laughed heartily at his article about the lack of political correctness embraced by the local gentry.

Matt Casseday could certainly never be labeled discriminatory; to the contrary, he appears to be more than willing to take a jab at everyone and anyone in this country (including himself) with equal verve. And it is this quality that for me lends to his credibility. The popular knock on satiric literature is that it lampoons the folly of existing situations without offering any viable solutions. I beg to differ. I think Matt has demonstrated a perfectly logical way to navigate contentedly through an illogical and at times frustrating scenario: with humor, and yes, compassion, the all-purpose salves to soothe your emotional wounds. Hey, maybe this gringo isn’t so crazy after all!

Crazy From the Heat is available at the Jaime Peligro book shops in Quepos, Playa Tamarindo and Tilaran.


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