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Short takes on Florida lit

Just a few of 2012's books from or about our weird state.

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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 Sanche
z

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)

Dead City
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)

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