The Florida Book Review features reviews of books with Florida settings or subjects, as well as event coverage and feature essays about Florida's literary history.
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FBR's Miami Book Fair Blog: November 2023
The Florida Book Review's annual coverage of the Miami Book Fair was back for 2023 with the weekend of Nov. 17-19, the Street Fair and loads of in-person readings and events. Check out our coverage here.
FBR's team covered the book fair with posts and photos. Click here to read our reporting as we blogged the Fair.
Many of the presentations will also be viewable online during the Fair and thereafter.
Take a look at the schedule: https://www.miamibookfair.com/
New: On our Florida Food & Drink Page
"How a sandwich has come to represent so much for people—nostalgia, community, exile, and patria— is remarkable," writes Madari Pendas, in her review of The Cuban Sandwich: A History in Layers, by Andrew T. Huse, Bárbara C. Cruz, and Jeff Houck.
"The handsomely-designed book includes interviews with various chefs and Cuban restaurant owners from all over the world. The chapters chronicling the history of the sandwich are intercut with colored photographs of original menus, family businesses, bustling kitchens, rising loaves of Cuban bread halved by a palmetto leaf, and more. This structure emphasizes the continuation of traditions and the global infatuation with the sandwich."
Read Pendas's review on our Florida Food & Drink page, though even for what she quotes you may want to heed her warning, "Some books you can't read on an empty stomach."
Feature: Social Distancing, A Return Home, and Elizabeth Bishop's "Questions of Travel"
In the latest feature in our Florida Literary Landmarks Series, Freesia McKee recalls seeing Elizabeth Bishop's former house in Key West, "shuttered and overgrown," in May 2019, and the happiness of learning later that year about the Key West Literary Seminar's acquisition of the house with the aim of restoring it to be a future headquarters and gathering place. In the solitude of the pandemic, McKee considers the many aspects of restlessness and home, distraction and isolation to be found in Bishop's life and work.
Read McKee's essay, "'Should we have stayed at home,/ wherever that may be?' Social Distancing, Return Home, and Elizabeth Bishop's 'Questions of Travel."
Feature: Alice Hoffman's Turtle Moon, a Classic Florida Read
A visit to the patients' library of a hospital where her mother is undergoing surgery leads Natalie Havlina to find among the used books for sale Alice Hoffman's Turtle Moon, the novel she first experienced on tape cassettes during on a roadtrip with her mother from Idaho to Montana in 1993.
When she opens the physical book now, to her surprise she finds: "The story takes place in Florida. The bizarre, magical place that has been etched in my memory for the last quarter of a century is Florida, the same place where I have landed unexpectedly..."
Read Havlina's essay about rediscovering Hoffman's award-winning novel, the latest in our series on Classic Florida Reads.
Feature: Harriet Beecher Stowe's Palmetto-Leaves
Novelist Mary Anna Evans looks at Harriet Beecher Stowe's influential 1873 book Palmetto-Leaves, which grew from essays written after her post-Civil War acquisition of a winter home in Mandarin.
The book became an "early, important example of Florida narratives urging people to 'Come on down!'” while today standing as a record of the wilderness she fell in love with, before the influx arrived.
As Evans writes, Stowe "was careful not to promise unadulterated paradise, saying that 'Florida, like a piece of embroidery, has two sides to it—one side all tag-rag and thrums, without order or position; and the other side showing flowers and arabesques and brilliant coloring.'"
Read our feature: "The book of Nature here is never shut": A Reconsideration of Harriet Beecher Stowe's Palmetto-Leaves.
Florida Nature and Environment
"Many of us are drawn to Florida for its natural beauty, captured by skilled photographers like Lynne Buchanan. And many of us come here as a result—enough that Florida is now the third most populous state in the nation, and is experiencing more of a burden on its fragile ecosystems and natural resources than ever before," writes FBR's James Barrett-Morison.
Florida's Changing Waters: A Beautiful World in Peril, adapted into a book from an exhibit of Buchanan's photographs, "stunningly illustrates how Florida's delicate inland, estuarine, and marine waters are being irreparably altered." Learn more on our Florida Nature and Envronment page.
Award-winning Florida Books
Check out FBR's reviews of award-winning Florida fiction:
Florida Crime Fiction
Catch up with more Florida mysteries on our Crime writing page.
Classic Florida Crime
Florida Classic Science Fiction: Neil Gaiman's Anansi Boys
Post-Apocalyptic Florida, Fifties Style
Classic Florida Memoirs
Moving to Miami: Classic YA
From the Seventies: Schemers and a Geriatric Sleuth, a Classic Florida Read
Dina Weinstein takes a look at Robert Kimmel Smith's 1976 novel, Sadie Shapiro in Miami, and finds those Florida crime staples, comically wacky building schemes and swindlers, but the book's real strength is its "timelessly funny and refreshing protagonist," Sadie Shapiro, "an unlikely geriatric celebrity." Read this Florida Book Review Reconsideration our Florida Crime Writing page.
Florida Crime Writing
Of Steve Lambert's poetry collection, Connor Nelson writes, "Heat Seekers is the dirt underneath the fingernail of Florida—people you look past at the gas station, shady street corner business you pretend not to notice, the insect comfortable on your motel room ceiling, death—and, like a Floridian, these poems don’t mind showing a little skin." Read the review on our Poetry page.
FBR's Miami Book Fair Blog
More Florida Nonfiction
On our Nature & Environment Page
On our Children's Books Page
"Beautifully illustrated and fun-filled, Gator Dad tells the story of a stay-at-home dad with three young children," writes our reviewer, Jaimie Eubanks of this book from stay-at-home dad and award- winning author and illustrator Brian Lies. Read the review.
Florida Young Adult Fiction
Special Feature: Kerouac's Orlanda Blues
Of Jack Kerouac's two periods living in Florida, "The first stint, in Orlando, stretching between 1957-58, was incredibly productive though relatively unknown," writes Ariel Francisco, who finds clues in Orlanda Blues, a section of Kerouac's Book of Blues. Read our feature here.
Above: The cottage in Orlando where Kerouac and his mother rented rooms in the back. Today the restored house is the site of The Kerouac Project, which runs writers' residencies and other programs in Central Florida.
A Land Remembered: A Reconsideration
Patrick D. Smith's novel A Land Remembered has become a beloved classic, taught in Florida schools. After reading it for the first time, Pamela Akins says, "every newcomer to the Sunshine State should read this 1984 action-packed saga of the taming of the Florida frontier. It not only offers a glimpse of what has come before, but what we are fast losing." Read more on our Classic Florida Reads page.