Published by Penguin on June 5th 2018
Genres: Fiction, Literary
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The truth might be moral, but it isn’t always right.
Snakes, gators, swamps and storms form the backdrop of these exquisitely human stories.
I have to say I enjoyed Florida so much more than Fates and Furies. Groff’s writing style is dense and wordy, metaphorical and poetic and – sometimes – exhausting. Reading her full-length novel was a chore, but for me at least, Groff seems born to write short stories. Small, hard-hitting snippets of lives that still make you feel emotionally-drained, but also thoughtful and satisfied.
The natural wonders and dangers of Florida play into almost all these stories. A snake devotee meets his end in the wilderness, at the hands of his life’s passion. A stressed mother of two boys is injured in a literal cabin in the woods. Two abandoned children fight against starvation.
It’s a book about people – often women and mothers, but not always – becoming unmoored and losing their way. The opening story is about a woman who takes to walking at night to calm her recently-acquired propensity for yelling. During these strolls, she observes her neighbors through their windows, unveiling pockets of their lives in punchy descriptions. It’s amazing how much you can learn just by watching people.
For the most part, the stories seem to be narrating a series of events in intricate detail, observing nature and moments between people. But then, once in a while, Groff delivers a perfect line that captures a widespread thought or fear, tapping deep into the human psyche and offering insight.
It’s extremely powerful.
CW: Child abuse/neglect; rape (non-graphic); general anxiety/depression.