Lauren Groff – Florida


While I was reading Lauren Groff’s short story collection Florida, Animal Collective’s single Floridada kept going round my brain constantly:

(contains flashing images)

The track itself is a love letter to Florida, albeit in a surreal fashion and, to a certain extent Groff’s book has the same M.O. as all 11 stories present Florida in a surprisingly positive way.

The Florida of Groff is a place with swamps, suburbs and strange people. One thing which is also interesting that 3 of the stories are about Florida natives going to France in an attempt to escape their homeland and yet these people end up returning to Florida. I guess it has a strong pull.

As I have stated many times, short stories tend to be a mixed bag for me but here all eleven are winners. Groff’s writing is superb and she captures her characters eccentricities or their bizarre situations perfectly. There are laugh out loud moments with some parts that were odd and some even creepy.  Everyone who will read this collection will definitely get something out of it.

My personal highlights were At the Round’s Earth’s Imagined Corners, a story about the son of a herpetologist. Dogs Go Wolf, a tale that reinvents feral children stories and the concluding story, Yport, which is an absolute masterpiece. Honestly only Groff can write a story about Floridians emigrating to France due to a love for Guy du Maupassant, it’s also a clever allegory about relationships.

With these stories Groff manages to realistically portray a place that is pictured as a country of sunshine, beaches and oranges. Although this is a land of alligators and snakes Groff does not give the impression that Florida is a place to avoid, rather one that has hidden depths.

Many thanks to Heinemann for providing a copy of Florida in exchange for an honest review.