I’ve been a fan of the writing of Lauren Groff ever since I read Arcadia. She weaves words into tapestries that make this writer smile. So, I finally got around to reading her latest work, Florida, a collection of stories connected to the sunshine state. The writing did not disappoint. Here is an example from the first story: “Jude couldn’t look at his father. The space in the air where he existed was too heavy and dark.” Further on in the same story, “Something shifted between them, and they fell asleep to a silence that was softer at its edges.”
A common theme throughout the stories: Florida is hot. It’s often said in different ways. The stories are as somber as the humidity. The first story, the one mentioned above, is about the only male lead in the story, save for two little children, one of which is a boy, abandoned on an island to fend for themselves. That cheery little tale is followed by a woman descending from a solid middle-class life into homelessness. The descent is gradual, and you see it all from her eyes. There are no external forces at play, no drug addiction, no abuse, just an internal collapse.
The last story takes a woman from Florida to a subsistence vacation in a small town in Brazil. The woman has let her best years pass by as she takes care of her mother. It is the antithesis of a How Stella Got Her Groove Back story.
The book maintains the excellent prose I expected from Groff, but with moribund circumstances that left me wanting. Yet, there’s the writing. I recommend the book for that alone.