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Florida

By: Lauren Groff

Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group

Imprint: Riverhead Books

Format: Hardcover | ISBN: 9781594634512

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  • About the Book
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The universally-acclaimed return of the New York Times bestselling author of Fates and Furies.In Lauren Groff’s Florida, the hot sun shines, but a wild darkness lurks. Florida is a "superlative" book (Boston Globe), "gorgeously weird and limber" (New Yorker), "frequently funny" (San Francisco Chronicle), "brooding, inventive and often moving" (NPR Fresh Air) -- as Groff is recognized as "Florida's unofficial poet laureate, as Joan Didion was for California." (Washington Post) "Groff's gifts as a writer just keep soaring higher and higher.” – NPR’s Fresh AirIn her thrilling new book, Lauren Groff brings the reader into a physical world that is at once domestic and wild—a place where the hazards of the natural world lie waiting to pounce, yet the greatest threats and mysteries are still of an emotional, psychological nature. A family retreat can be derailed by a prowling panther, or by a sexual secret. Among those navigating this place are a resourceful pair of abandoned sisters; a lonely boy, grown up; a restless, childless couple, a searching, homeless woman; and an unforgettable, recurring character—a steely and conflicted wife and mother. The stories in this collection span characters, towns, decades, even centuries, but Florida—its landscape, climate, history, and state of mind—becomes its gravitational center: an energy, a mood, as much as a place of residence. Groff transports the reader, then jolts us alert with a crackle of wit, a wave of sadness, a flash of cruelty, as she writes about loneliness, rage, family, and the passage of time. With shocking accuracy and effect, she pinpoints the moments and decisions and connections behind human pleasure and pain, hope and despair, love and fury—the moments that make us alive. Startling, precise, and affecting, Florida is a magnificent achievement.
Lauren Groff is a great storyteller, as “Florida,” her second collection, makes clear in 11 dramatic tales, all full of event and surprise, instruction and comfort.... “Florida” is restorative fiction for these urgent times. Its final gestures, even the most ominous of a little boy with a rock he holds over his head but does not hurl, lean toward love and the promise of good people, in not just this state but the world.
—New York Times
Melodramatics spoiled Ms. Groff's novels “Arcadia” (2012) and “Fates and Furies” (2015), but in “Florida” her humid, overgrown writing harmonizes perfectly with the setting. The short form suits her, too, checking a tendency toward excess and didacticism. These new stories are tight and contained, and they pulse with menace and feral energy.
—Wall Street Journal
Any of these beautiful stories could be spun off into a novel of its own. Each features complicated characters with vibrant backstories, facing complex issues, ranging from everyday anxiety to homelessness. Groff cogently displays the influence of her adopted home state of Florida, with its humid, volatile weather, as well as its lush flora and fauna, and uses it to imbue her stories with an unmistakable imprint that's all her own --- one that is cementing her rightful place as this generation's Kate Chopin.
—Bookreporter.com
From the first line of “Florida” — “I have somehow become a woman who yells” — it's clear that Groff is still on-brand. Her writing about relationships rarely sticks within the narrow, Updike-ian confines of domestic dysfunction, though. Even in short stories, she prefers broader canvases, and much of “Florida” is filled with hurricanes and other violent storms that run parallel to the personal crises she describes.... Culturally, we're in a time where all knowledge seems threatened to be deemed useless. A writer who grasps how we make myths and exposes how words fail in such an environment is still a valuable resource. Snakes and hurricanes are Florida problems. But the storms that Groff describes are everywhere.
—Los Angeles Times
As Groff shows in her 11 stories, the state of Florida — dismissed by many Northerners as a place of mass shootings, retirees, and arch-conservatism — can also be a perfect vehicle for exploring the nature of existence when Groff's writing about it. In this superlative collection — seriously, there's not a dud in the bunch — Florida is a “damp, dense tangle. An Eden of dangerous things.” It also becomes a stand-in for everything from the class divide to an uncaring universe to environmental collapse to personal entropy to the glory of the natural world.... With this book, Groff has joined the annals of great 21st century Florida fiction: Karen Russell's “Swamplandia," James Hannaham's “God Says No," and John Brandon's “Citrus County." Having followed an astonishing, astonishingly accessible novel with such an outstanding, accessible collection, Groff is surely poised to topple the tiny monkeys in charge of deciding that the perceived realm of the feminine isn't sufficiently deep.
—Boston Globe
The stories are teeming with snakes and storms, with women both tough and fearful, and children forced to cope with their parents' failings and limitations.... Groff's desire seems to be to show — in a frequently funny, sometimes painful and always deeply sensitive way — that women and children are often stronger than we tend to think, and that the Earth is more fragile than we usually allow ourselves to understand.
—San Francisco Chronicle
Luckily for the characters in these 11 finely crafted stories, the things they dread don't always materialize � with the exception of the hurricanes, which arrive regularly enough that you'd think these hapless women would listen to weather advisories and avoid getting stuck in life-threatening conditions. Groff is most fascinated by the fear itself.... While these stories don't always achieve the psychological depth of Groff's novels, there's serious pleasure to be had in her precise descriptions of landscape.... With this collection she stakes her claim to being Florida's unofficial poet laureate, as Joan Didion was for California.
—Washington Post
Florida plays a supporting role in Fates and Furies � its gallant hero, Lotto, is born during a hurricane, the son of a former Weeki Wachee mermaid and a springwater-bottling businessman � but the state stars in most of these stories.... Groff is adept at portraying people in desperate straits, recounting how their humanity is stripped away � but not entirely.
—Tampa Bay Times
"Florida," Lauren Groff's fifth book — and second collection of short stories — is filled with the mesmerizing, decadent language one finds in all of her work.... Groff's storytelling has such ferocious energy, and is so attuned to the natural world, that even a seemingly peaceful setting is only moments away from havoc.
—Minneapolis Star Tribune
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