Lauren Groff is one of my favorite contemporary writers, and I found Florida to be thoroughly enjoyable collection of quite bleak stories that feature individuals coping with the effects of climate change. So lots of stormy weather, both environmental and psychic.
Three of the stories are set outside of Florida, but all feature Florida natives struggling to maintain a sense of well being in the midst of environmental decay. Motherhood in a world of environmental peril is also a recurring theme. All of the stories feature an intimate sense of place. Two stories, "For the god of love, for the love of god", and "Yport", offered deeper and more engaging experiences than most of the full-length novels I've read recently.
I read it all but it was hard to do. I just did not enjoy it. I wanted some stories but got literature.
It was sort of like going to a beach bar for a fried seafood platter and the server bring blackened redfish and asparagus or going to a diner for a meat and 3 and getting...well, something lots fancier than a meat and 3. Not what I was hoping to get but, hey, my bad. Not saying she is a bad writer but it was just not for me. Enjoyed Annie Proulx(?) stories much more.
This is a well written book that truly grabs your attention to the end because of the eclectic lives of the people it depicts.
Literary fiction at its finest
She has a way of writing that pulls you in and makes you feel the story. I could barely put this book down.
If you ask me, the two most delightful stories are the first one (Ghosts and Empties) and the last one (Yport). They read quite autobiographically, quite like memoirs of women who are moms, with careers they feel they aren't excellent in, kids they feel as if they aren't parenting as well as they should, anxiety about their lives, their choices, their everything, and are married to husbands who are largely like gingerbread men (I would say like sugar cookies but they have their quirks and are largely absent, like they ran away with that goofy fake smirk on their flat faces). So these stories do that beautifully, if that's what you want to read. And I did. Without stopping. Because beautiful writing carries you through almost anything.
Except the few stories here that it did not. I hated, hated, hated the creepy weirdness of Eyewall. I didn't get it. I feel as if it's one of those stories that is experimental and rebellious, and if it were submitted for one of my graduate writing courses, it would have received a less than excellent grade. That might say more about the graduate writing courses I've taken, where creepy, weird, unrealistic, fantastic, imaginary, nightmarish, implausible fiction is discouraged and plot, for example, is somewhat important.
I know she's a weird writer. I've read bits and pieces of her previous work. It's fantastical and dream-like, and creative in a way that you either love or hate. That is why I chose to read this - as a primarily non-fiction reader, it's good to stretch yourself, to try new things, to imagine through the eyes of a gifted writer, to give your mind over to someone who can offer you a completely different perspective so when you return to your life, you can see it compared to what you lived through reading. But I could not give myself completely over to some of these stories. I can't read science fiction either, so there you go.
On Barack Obama's Top Books of 2018
Recc by Jan Nelson. Dark short stories, exposing all kinds of underbelly in human interaction.
A collection of depressing short stories mostly of females. Overloaded with description of surrounding and neurotic feelings. A complete description of a functional disorder of neurosis is used in ALL the stories. Florida is used as an location only and is hated. The conclusions are short, choppy, confusing, incomplete and/or senseless. The reader has nothing to gain from this book. I do not intend to read any more by this author.
Smell, feel, and taste Florida in these sensuous short stories about (mainly) restless and anxious women who have retreated from living. Impending threats and fears overhang each story like a heavy branch that could break in a storm. There is an art to writing a good short story and these measure up.
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