Always intimate and never insular, they span a wide range of subjects—some trace the personal roots of family histories and youth and lost friendships, while others look outward to environmental conservation, religion, and homelessness.” “The distinct nature of Florida and its undeniable, magnetic weirdness shines through somewhere in each essay.
Yet, despite its title, that enigma of a state isn’t the focus.
He becomes our embezzling protagonist whose tales about the birds he “rescues” never quite add up.
Gerard’s personal stories are no less eerie or poignant: An essay that begins as a look at Gerard’s first relationship becomes a heart-wrenching exploration of acquaintance rape and consent.
‘BFF’ is an extremely intimate autopsy of a childhood friendship.
‘The Mayor of Williams Park’ is an immersive profile told in the quasi-detached first person, of G. Rolle, a minister who serves free weekend lunch meals.” ] dissects what Florida means to the United States with a nuance and complexity only someone who has lived in it—and, just as importantly, moved away from itcan provide….Using Florida as a lens and the body as a ticket to travel, Gerard weaves her astonishing prose through land and corporeal truth. The shadows bring depth.” “[Gerard] inserts herself into her stories in both highly personal ways and as a second party observer, leaving the reader with a map of her internal landscape as well as a Floridian topography.is a sort of memoir, its essays ranging widely in style and degree of intimacy…. The combined effect is a bird’s eye view of the state at large. The personal is political.” “Sarah Gerard writes with soulful clarity and keen intelligence about the cultish relationships and aspirational thinking that course through American life.Gerard takes a magnifying glass to powerful characters, herself included, and the underlying truths she unravels could apply to any number of Americans.The reader becomes invested in the characters’ lives, at times torn between empathy and disdain, but nonetheless needing to know what becomes of them.” “Gerard’s native Florida links the assembled eight essays, but the setting is just that - a backdrop against which Gerard exercises an admirable impulse for experimentation.What slowly emerges throughout the course of Gerard’s searching is a clear-eyed dismantling of the American dream: the idea that we are the individual architects of our fates, each with the power to will for ourselves the lives we want, the abundance we desire — wealth we trust will lead to true happiness.” treats Florida…as a frame of mind, a psychoactive landscape through which to wander, poking what Gerard sees until she can make sense of it.Her essays live in the nonfiction borderland, testing the limits of truth and fact. Florida stands in for the American psyche, which is bleak and badly damaged…using facts alongside imagination and memory, of the country as it is, in order to understand how we got here, and where we’re going next.” gloriously gutted me—and by that I mean changed me forever as a reader. Florida is often played for laughs in literature, but Gerard knows it too well to do anything that simple.[The essays] work together to subvert the most common tropes about Florida’s antic madness.Instead they focus on humanizing the state’s inhabitants—inhabitants with hopes and dreams, who cope with systemic and visceral issues…