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Florida
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The universally-acclaimed return of the New York Times bestselling author of Fates and Furies and Matrix.In Lauren Groff’s Florida, the hot sun shines, but a wild darkness...
The universally-acclaimed return of the New York Times bestselling author of Fates and Furies and Matrix.In Lauren Groff’s Florida, the hot sun shines, but a wild darkness...
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  • The universally-acclaimed return of the New York Times bestselling author of Fates and Furies and Matrix.
    In Lauren Groff’s Floridathe 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 Air

    In 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.
 

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Excerpts-

  • From the cover Ghosts and Empties

    I have somehow become a woman who yells, and because I do not want to be a woman who yells, whose little children walk around with frozen, watchful faces, I have taken to lacing on my running shoes after dinner and going out into the twilit streets for a walk, leaving the undressing and sluicing and reading and singing and tucking in of the boys to my husband, a man who does not yell.

    The neighborhood goes dark as I walk, and a second neighborhood unrolls atop the daytime one. We have few streetlights, and those I pass under make my shadow frolic; it lags behind me, gallops to my feet, gambols on ahead. The only other illumination is from the windows in the houses I pass and the moon that orders me to look up, look up! Feral cats dart underfoot, bird-of-paradise flowers poke out of the shadows, smells are exhaled into the air: oak dust, slime mold, camphor.

    Northern Florida is cold in January and I walk fast for warmth but also because, though the neighborhood is antique-huge Victorian houses radiating outward into 1920s bungalows, then mid-century modern ranches at the edges-it's imperfectly safe. There was a rape a month ago, a jogger in her fifties pulled into the azaleas; and, a week ago, a pack of loose pit bulls ran down a mother with a baby in her stroller and mauled both, though not to death. It's not the dogs' fault, it's the owners' fault! dog lovers shouted on the neighborhood email list, but those dogs were sociopaths. When the suburbs were built, in the seventies, the historic houses in the center of town were abandoned to graduate students who heated beans over Bunsen burners on the heart-pine floors and sliced apartments out of ballrooms. When neglect and humidity caused the houses to rot and droop and develop rusty scales, there was a second abandonment, to poor people, squatters. We moved here ten years ago because our house was cheap and had virgin-lumber bones, and because I decided that if I had to live in the South, with its boiled peanuts and its Spanish moss dangling like armpit hair, at least I wouldn't barricade myself with my whiteness in a gated community. Isn't it . . . dicey? people our parents' age would say, grimacing, when we told them where we lived, and it took all my willpower not to say, Do you mean black, or just poor? Because it was both.

    White middle-classness has since infected the neighborhood, though, and now everything is frenzied with renovation. In the past few years, the black people have mostly withdrawn. The homeless stayed for a while, because our neighborhood abuts Bo Diddley Plaza, where, until recently, churches handed out food and God, and where Occupy rolled in like a tide and claimed the right to sleep there, then grew tired of being dirty and rolled out, leaving behind a human flotsam of the homeless in sleeping bags. During our first months in the house, we hosted a homeless couple we only ever saw slinking off in the dawn: at dusk, they would silently lift off the latticework to the crawl space under our house and then sleep there, their roof our bedroom floor, and when we got up in the middle of the night, we tried to walk softly because it felt rude to step inches above the face of a dreaming person.

    On my nighttime walks, the neighbors' lives reveal themselves, the lit windows domestic aquariums. At times, I'm the silent witness to fights that look like slow-dancing without music. It is astonishing how people...

About the Author-

  • Lauren Groff is the New York Times bestselling author of three novels, The Monsters of TempletonArcadia, and Fates and Furies, and the celebrated short story collection Delicate Edible Birds. Her work has been featured in the New Yorker, Harper's, the Atlantic, and several Best American Short Stories anthologies. She has won the Paul Bowles Prize for Fiction, the PEN/O. Henry Award, and the Pushcart Prize; and has been a finalist for the National Book Award, the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Orange Award for New Writers, and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize.

Reviews-

  • Publisher's Weekly

    April 9, 2018
    Ferocious weather and self-destructive impulses plague the characters in this assured collection, the first from Groff (Fates and Furies) since 2009’s Delicate Edible Birds. In “Above and Below,” a grad student loses her university funding and spirals into homelessness. The solo vacationer in “Salvador”—one of three stories set outside Florida—waits out a raging storm with a menacing shopkeeper who, after the harrowing night, “smelled of wet denim and sweated-out alcohol and sour private skin.” Groff’s descriptions shimmer with precision: in “Eyewall,” at the onset of a hurricane that a hallucinating woman endures alone, “the lake goosebumped” and “the house sucked in a shuddery breath.” On a family getaway to a cheerless cabin in the claustrophobic “The Midnight Zone,” a woman notes “how the screens at night pulsed with the tender bellies of lizards.” That story is one of five to feature an unnamed fretful mother and novelist who, in “Yport,” has dragged her two young sons to France while she researches Guy de Maupassant. “Their world is so full of beauty,” she says, fearing for the boys’ future, “the last terrible flash of beauty before the darkness.” A number of the stories hit similar tonal notes (pessimism threatens to sink a few of them), but Groff’s skillful prose, self-awareness, and dark humor leaven the bleakness, making this a consistently rewarding collection.

  • AudioFile Magazine Groff's Sunshine State features no amusement park. While each story in this collection is richly told, the subject matter is often dark, tense, dangerous. It seems the state itself is safe for no one--not children or their mothers, a father, or man's best friend. That said, Groff's words and performance make this an irresistible listen. She is warm while matter-of-fact and gentle as she shares tales of deprivation and isolation. Her voice seems to love her protagonists just as her pen puts them through trials and torment. The common touch of her narration matches the layers contained in each story--what seems simple is actually full of meaning. While this is not a traditional beach read, FLORIDA is worth the trip. L.B.F. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine

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