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

Esquire (UK) - - Contents -

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

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