SHORT STORIES

Florida

Riverhead. Jun. 2018. 288p. ISBN 9781594634512. $27; ebk. ISBN 970698405141. F
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A frank, rambunctious, generous writer, Groff thought big in her much-heralded novel Fates and Furies. Here, in spot-on language, she effectively provides slice-of-life reading, capturing the scents and sounds of her newly adopted state, Florida. Her portraits aren't of sand, surf, and sunshine; instead, she shows us houses that "rot and droop" in the humidity, the "devilish reek of snakes" at swamp's edge, and an "old hunting camp shipwrecked in twenty miles of scrub" where a panther lurks. But these portraits aren't unaffectionate, and the characters can be satisfyingly tough, though Groff's alter ego in several stories is still getting her bearings. In the opening story, she walks nightly in her transitional neighborhood, seeing few people but keeping herself from becoming a yowling mom. The standout "At the Round Earth's Imagined Corners" traces a Florida boy's life from his rough upbringing, his mother's stealing him away to safety, his father's grabbing him back, and his adulthood in the family home, when he confronts the ghost of his let-down father, then joyously greets his wife.
VERDICT Well-observed, unexpected writing for fans and more. [See Prepub Alert, 12/11/17.]

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