In her vigorous and moving new book, Lauren Groff brings her electric storytelling and intelligence to a world in which storms, snakes and sinkholes lurk at the edge of everyday life, but the greater threats and mysteries are of a human, emotional and psychological nature. Among those navigating it all are a resourceful pair of abandoned sisters, a lonely boy, grown up, a restless, childless couple, a searching, homeless woman and an unforgettable, recurring character — a steely and conflicted wife and mother.
The stories in this collection span characters, towns, decades and even centuries, but Florida — its landscape, climate, history and state of mind — becomes its gravitational centre. Groff transports the reader, then jolts us alert with a crackle of wit, a wave of sadness and a flash of cruelty, as she writes about loneliness, rage, family and the passage of time. With shocking accuracy and effect, she pinpoints the moments, decisions and connections behind human pleasure and pain, hope and despair, love and fury — the moments that make us alive. Startling, precise and affecting, Florida is a magnificent achievement. (From Riverhead Books)
From the book
I have somehow become a woman who yells, and because I do not want to be a woman who yells, whose little children walk around with frozen, watchful faces, I have taken to lacing on my running shoes after dinner and going out into the twilit streets for a walk, leaving the undressing and sluicing and reading and singing and tucking in of the boys to my husband, a man who does not yell.
The neighbourhood goes dark as I walk, and a second neighborhood unrolls atop the daytime one. We have few streetlights, and those I pass under make my shadow frolic; it lags behind me, gallops to my feet, gambols on ahead. The only other illumination is from the windows in the houses I pass and the moon that orders me to look up, look up! Feral cats dart underfoot, bird-of-paradise flowers poke out of the shadows, smells are exhaled into the air: oak dust, slime mold, camphor.
From Ghosts and Empties in Florida by Lauren Groff ©2018. Published by Riverhead Books.