Whether it's a novel about zombies by a Florida writer (Dead City) or a novel about Florida by a celebrated literary zombie (Back to Blood), our weird state can't be defined by or confined to a book. Here are just a few of 2012's books from or about Florida.
Back to Blood
By Tom Wolfe
Tom Wolfe reboots his most popular social comedy, Bonfire of the Vanities, with a shouty Miami cast. Surprisingly, the old man gets it right (particularly an over-the-top passage set at the annual Art Basel Miami Beach feeding frenzy), but the book doesn't quite live up to its anticipatory hype: Wait for the paperback.
(Little, Brown and Co.; 720 pages)
You & Me
By Padgett Powell
Ringing with the
clear influences of Donald Barthelme, Samuel Beckett and Harry Crews, You & Me is a ghosty skeleton of a book, minimal yet widely ranging. Padgett Powell has gotten weirder with each successive book since his rapturously received 1984 debut, Edisto – Gainesville seems to be agreeing with him, and we're all the luckier for that.
(Ecco Press; 208 pages)
Boat Girl: A Memoir of Youth, Love & Fiberglass
By Melanie Neale
There's a certain kind of adventurer who won't be tied down, and children of these seekers often find themselves growing up in unusual situations: in a yurt, say … or on a 47-foot sailboat. In Boat Girl, Melanie Neale records the freedoms and restrictions of being a "boat kid," and the reverberations of her childhood in her adult life.
(Beating Windward Press, 246 pages)
The Downside of Being Charlie
By Jenny Torres Sanchez
UCF grad and former OCPS teacher Jenny Torres Sanchez achieves that relative rarity in YA fiction: a coming-of-age novel that engages readers with nary a supernatural being. Charlie "Chunks" Grisner's "life-sucking" high school issues pale next to the mental-health issues that run in his family. (Surprisingly, it's not depressing!)
(Running Press; 272 pages)
By James Ponti
Maitland author James Ponti blogs that he was inspired by E.L. Konigsburg's young adult classic From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, and it shows. His protagonist, 12-year-old zombie hunter Molly Bigelow, is an appealingly spunky teen heroine, and Dead City, despite its familiar premise, is a charming quick read.
(Simon & Schuster; 288 pages)