The Florida Book Review

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Young Adult
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Feature: Zora Neale Hurston
Feature:Stephen Crane
Feature: John D. MacDonald
Feature: JosÚ MartÝ
Feature: Laramore Rader
Feature: Wallace Stevens
Feature: Dan Wakefield
Tennessee Williams
Miami Book Fair 2013
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The Florida Book Review features reviews of books with Florida settings or subjects, as well as interviews and essays about Florida's literary scene.

Come in and sample our reviews and features.  Read the blog.  And visit again soon!  If you'd like to join our mailing list click here

FBR Reports:
Mark your calendars for Miami Book Fair International, Nov. 16-23.  We'll be doing our annual live blog.
Jennifer Maritza McCauley takes us to Reading Queer's inaugural festival, which brought salons, workshops, readings to locations ranging from B-Bar to the Miami Beach Botanical Garden.
Jan Becker reports from the Miami Writers Institute 2014. What did she learn about fiction writing from Robert Olen Butler?
Louis K. Lowy investigates SleuthFest 2014 in Orlando, from "The Plot Thickens" to "Why I Write About Him/Her/Them."
Ed Irvin interviews James Patterson about writing bestsellers, supporting bookstores, and teaching kids to love reading.  
Right: James Patterson signing at Murder on the Beach Mystery Bookstore in Delray Beach. (Photo: Ed Irvin)


What's New in Florida Fiction
In The Clairvoyant of Calle Ocho, Anjanette Delgado blends sex, second sight, and "the limbo life of refugees" in "an unconventional tale of vulnerability and empowerment," writes Pamela Akins in her review on our Fiction page.
"A small box of bittersweet chocolates, no sugar coating, but an occasional nut and a few honeys" says Pamela Akins of the sampler of short stories Everything is Broken, edited by John Dufresne. Read her review on our Fiction page.

Jennifer Maritza McCauley says Adam Pelzman's novel Troika is "the sort of book you'll miss long after it's over." Read her review on our Fiction page.

Fabienne Sylvia Josaphat reviews Roxane Gay's first novel, An Untamed State, which takes its protagonist from Florida to Haiti in "a thriller seeking to explore humanity at its worst and best." Read the review on our Fiction page.
Ed Irvin says, "The Heaven of Animals is a deeply evocative masterpiece..." Read his review of David James Poissant's story collection on our Fiction page.
New Florida Crime Writing
Matthew Klein's protagonist Jim Thane, trying to turn his own life around, takes a job his old friend offers him as a turnaround executive, he's supposed to rescue a software company in Tampa. Or isn't he? His wife is on his side. Or isn't she? "No Way Back is a very ambitious novel and, like the meth-head that Jim once was, I found myself trying to score a fix of it at every opportunity," say Ed Irvin. Read the review.
It's election season in Florida, crazy as ever. In Mercedes Wore Black, free-lance journalist Janis Hawk investigates an environmental cover-up, a gambling power grab, a Big Pharma secret, and the death of a friend who was working on a gubernatorial campaign.  Stephanie Selander says Andrea Brunais' crime novel is "light yet filled with substance, the action provided by a colorful and humorous cast." Read her review here.

"In Terrie Farley Moran's Well Read, Then Dead, the first Read 'Em and Eat mystery, the cafe's literature-inspired dishes are served with a side of murder," says Ed Irvin. Read his review here.

Jeffrey Fernandez saya the one trait Mace Bauer and her Mama "share is the knack for stumbling across corpses in the blistering heat of their home town of Himmarshee, Florida." In Mama Gets Trashed, the fifth installment in Deborah Sharp's series, their search through a dumpster for the wedding ring Mama tossed out "after a night of hardcore wine drinking" leads to discovery of a local librarian dressed in dominatrix gear.  Complications and laughter follow. Read the review here.
Ed Irvin on Murder With Ganache, Lucy Burdette's fourth Key West Food Critic mystery, and how versimilitude about family relationships helps a cozy.  Read the review.

"Serge is crueller—and funnier—than ever," Ed Irvin says of Tim Dorsey's vigilante serial killer Serge A. Storms, back for another adventure in Tiger Shrimp Tango. Read the review here.

Dina Weinstein takes a look at Robert Kimmel Smith's 1976 novel, Sadie Shapiro in Miami, and finds those Florida crime staples, comically wacky building schemes and swindlers, but the book's real strength is its "timelessly funny and refreshing protagonist," Sadie Shapiro, "an unlikely geriatric celebrity." Read this Florida Book Review Reconsideration our Florida Crime Writing page.

TheirEyesCover.jpgThe Parallax Effect:
Three Ways of Looking at Their Eyes Were Watching God

Julie Marie Wade on Zora Neale Hurston, the nature of reading, and how very differently one reader can view the same book over time.

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Congratulations to the Winners of the Florida Book Awards
Click on titles to read FBR's reviews of some of the winning books:
Deceived, by Randy Wayne White (Gold Medal, General Fiction)
Heart of Palm, by Laura Lee Smith (Silver Medal, General Fiction)
The Biscuit Joint, by David Kirby (Silver Medal, Poetry)

A complete list of this year's Florida Book Award Winners is on our Blog page.

Our annual blog of Miami Book Fair International
Our FBR team blogged Miami Book Fair International, including the Festival of Authors and Street Fair in downtown Miami. Our reports from the Fair are posted on our 2013 Book Fair Blog page.
View from above of Miami Book Fair International 2013. (Photo: Jan Becker)

Post-Apocalyptic Florida, Fifties Style, a Classic Florida Read
Frank Tota reconsiders Pat Frank's vision of post-apocalyptic Florida in his 1959 novel Alas, Babylon here.

On Our Tales & Legends Page

Read Jamie May's review of Fearsome Florida Creatures here.

On Our Children's Page
Louis K. Lowy reviews the children's Florida history novel Kidnapped in Key West here.



 Florida Literary History:


A Poet's Escape: The Key West Idyll (and Turmoil) of Wallace Stevens


An FBR feature by Dariel Suarez

From the FBR Archives:

HemingwayKW.jpgRead FBR Reports, live-blogging and reporting from Florida's literary fairs and festivals:

The FBR Staff archived live-blogs of Miami Book Fair International 2011 is here, and  MBFI 2010, and 2009, 2008 and 2007.

Esther Martinez reports from Ybor City on Deep Carnivale 2008 and 2009

P. Scott Cunningham is a Young Man in A Sea of Look-Alikes at Hemingway Days Festival 2007

A Classic Florida Memoir Reissued

"Jesse Lee Kercheval’s Space can be described as a memoir masquerading as cultural anthropology or cultural anthropology masquerading as memoir, but either way, it is a compelling read," writes Madeleine Blais. Read her reconsideration of this just-reissued award-winning book that takes the reader to 1966 Cocoa as Florida moved from swamp to space age.


On New On Our Young Adult Page
Ed Irvin checks out the return of Carl Hiaasen's "beloved one-eyed, shower cap-wearing psychotic ex-governor, Skink" in his new YA novel Skink No Surrender, and finds, "It's Skink decaffeinated, but it's still Skink." Read his review to learn more about this blend of comic misadventure and "touching coming-of-age tale."

Jennifer Maritza McCauley says that Five Ways to Fall by K.A. Tucker "is both an escapist romance and an accurate snapshot of youth culture."  Read more on our Young Adult page.

On Our Food & Drink Page

At your service: Betty Jo Buro reviews Waiting at Joe's in which Deeny Kaplan Lorber "gives the reader an inside look at the over one hundred year-old Miami Beach institution, Joe’s Stone Crab."

Cheers! Bob Morison reviews To Have and Have Another: a Hemingway Cocktail Companion by Philip Greene.

New on our Poetry Page
In The Road to Emmaus, Guillermo Cancio-Bello says, Spencer Reece holds "a light to the experiences of his life, making this book a gesture of compassion and generosity." Read his review on our Poetry page.

"The poems in this collection offer a fresh and deceptively complex perspective on formal traditions," says Marci Calabretta of Peter Meinke's Lucky Bones, which is "all about love, in one form or another." Read her review.
In The Lame God, winner of the May Swenson Poetry Award, M.B. McLatchey draws upon her knowledge of classical literature to write about contemporary suffering, telling the stories of abducted children and their families. "This book is for...those moment when poetry alone can break through the grief," writes Marci Calabretta. Read her review.

"Systems of Vanishing is a beautiful and elegiac tribute to everything we lose, both precious and minute." Marci Calabretta reviews Michael Hettich's most recent collection, winner of the Tampa Review Prize for Poetry.
"For anyone who has ever masked heartache with a shrug and a smile, who doesn't give up hope, these poems are full of solace." Read Marci Calabretta's review of Stephen Kampa's Bachelor Pad.

"Barbara Hamby's On the Street of Divine Love, a collection of her new and selected poems, offers the reader "a delightful linguistic smorgasbord in praise of this world of fascinating oddities," says Marci Calabretta. Read her review on our Poetry page.

 Our reviewer Leslie Taylor says Kristine Snodgrass's first book, The War on Pants, "reads like a collection of poems from a dystopian future."

On Our Nonfiction Page...


In her memoir Leaving Little Havana, Cecilia Fernandez "uses elegant language and symbolism to capture the 'tenacity of nostalgia' and the tension between the writer’s past life in Cuba and her new life in the United States," says our reviewer, Jennifer Maritza McCauley. Read the review on our Nonfiction page.


Ed Irvin says Carl Hiaasen's latest collection of columns, Dance of the Reptiles: Rampaging Tourists, Marauding Pythons, Larcenous Legislators, Crazed Celebrities, and Tar->Balled Beaches, is "equal parts funny, sad, and enraging."Read the review on our Nonfiction page.


"Waddell has the reporter's eye for odd detail (even among an abundance of oddity) and the reporter's knack for getting people with underground stories to tell them anyway," says Bob Morison of Lynn Waddell's Fringe Florida: Travels among Mud Boggers, Furries, Ufologists, Nudists, and Other Lovers of Unconventional Lifestyles. Read the review on our Nonfiction page.

Paul Christiansen reviews the most recent issues of The Southeast Review and Saw Palm. Check out our listings of Florida presses and literary journals.

Moving to Miami: Classic YA
irving.jpgIrving and Me, published in 1967, was written by New Yorker cartoonist and popular writer for young people Syd Hoff. Sally.jpg1977 marked the debut of Judy Blume's Starring Sally Friedman as Herself. Both authors were themselves transplants to Florida, and their books tell the stories of young people uprooted to Miami. 
Dina Weinstein (a transplant, too) reconsiders these two Young Adult books on our Classic Florida Reads page.

Florida Politics: Always a Brawl?
Dawn S. Davis reviews The Reluctant Republican, a memoir about what happens to "an idealistic, yet reasonable person who finds herself immersed in the smarmy, sleight of hand world of politics,"on our Florida Politics page.
Bob Morison reviews Walkin' Lawton, the story of the little-known politician who walked the length of the state and became Senator and Governor, on our Florida Politics page.
On Our Environment Page

D.S. Davies "Until recently . . . believed there were more obstacles than opportunities in Florida vegetable gardening." She reviews Organic Methods for Vegetable Gardening in Florida on our Environment page.

On Our Florida History Page

In Finding the Fountain of Youth, Rick Kilby compiles his finds "from historical facts about the state's development, to vintage brochures, postcards, and archival photographs of 'tourist traps,'" to document how Florida's allure was built on the myth of rejuvenation.  Read Marci Calabretta's review here.

Reading Robert S. Carr's Digging Miami, Jan Becker says she became aware of "how vulnerable the relics of the past are to modernity's machinery" and how we "walk on ground that has been tread on for more than ten thousand years." Read her review here.

On our Florida Travel Page

For those exploring Florida or armchair traveling, Marci Calabretta reviews Forts of Florida: A Guidebook on our Travel Page.

 Lynne Barrett reviews Finding Home, A Memoir of A Mother's Undying Love and An Untold Secret, the story of the too-short life and possibly sports-related death of All-American pitcher Ramiro "Toti" Mendez.

On Our Environment Page

Jan Becker reviews Native Wildflowers and Other Groundcovers for Florida Landscapes, a guide to finding what's native in "a land of transplants" on our Environment page.


American History,PrangEd1893ColumbusTakingPossession.jpg

Florida Style

Memoir by Dan Wakefield

Tennessee Williams in Key West
 Join Pulitzer Prize winner Madeleine Blais as she takes us on her journey to the Key West of the late 70s to meet the playwright in her essay "Do You Want to See My Shrine?"

Florida's Literary Landmarks Features
Dariel Suarez tracks down the Floridastephen_crane.jpg adventures of  José Martí

PortraitofVLR.jpgThe Search for Florida's Forgotten Poet Laureate
Read Antolin Garcia Carbonell's Feature on Vivian Laramore Rader

JDM.jpgRereading John D. MacDonald

Keith Ferrell's "Memories of MacDonald, Memories of MacDonald's McGee"

Lynne Barrett reconsiders Pleasure Was My Business, by Florida's sultry Madam Sherry—whose book stirred things up as far away as Egypt...

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