Lauren Groff’s torpid tales from oppressive Florida; McQueen, the film star (Alexander, not Steve)
Lauren Groff’s short story collection shows why she’s one of America’s most vaunted young writers
All manner of ominous creatures crawl through the pages of Lauren Groff’s short story collection, Florida: snakes drip from roofs, crocodiles lurk in swamps and lizards “frill their red
necks and do push-ups on the sidewalk” or else “pulse their tender bellies against the screens at night.”
It’s a bizarre sort-of tribute to her adopted state of Florida, where storms, sinkholes and constant, sweltering heat provide the backdrop to 11 stories about various misfits: the shy boy brought up by a snake-hunting father; the heartbroken student who
becomes voluntarily destitute; the lonely woman facing down a biblical downpour with a glass of wine.
But there’s a reason the author of 2015’s Fates and Furies (among Barack Obama’s favourite books, fact fans) is regarded as one of the most original voices in literature today. She is an
example of writers who can do everything — dialogue, structure, the
throb and hum of inner life — so brilliantly. The result is so heady and
evocative, you’ll be wafting away imaginary heat waves and checking
your room for scaly threats as you read it, while Florida’s cast of lost, sad and sometimes cruel characters will stick with you far longer.
Florida (William Heinemann)
is published on 7 June