Saturday, January 28, 2017

Book review: "Best. State. Ever." by Dave Barry

It pains Dave Barry to say it, but say it he must:

"Florida has become The Joke State, the state everybody makes fun of."

As Barry figures it, Florida's joke status started with the 2000 presidential election when the state couldn't figure out who it voted for, launching a month of intensive news coverage of the state.

"This coverage did not present a positive image of Florida," he notes. "It featured endlessly replayed videos of deeply confused Florida election officials squinting at Florida ballots that were apparently designed by dyslexic lemurs and then turned over to deeply confused Florida voters, many of whom apparently voted for nobody for president, or voted for two presidents, or used the ballots to dislodge pieces of brisket from between their teeth."

From then, coverage of Florida progressed through an endless parade of weird news stories, like the shark that died in a highway accident, or the man who died in a cockroach-eating contest.

Dave Barry's heard them all, and as professional humorist who lives in Miami, he appreciates the good laugh. But he wonders: Do people really know Florida?

In "Best. State. Ever. A Florida Man Defends His Homeland," Barry takes us on a tour of all that is weird and wonderful about the state. As always, Barry is funny, but he also manages to go a little deeper.

Barry takes us to a variety of Florida attractions, such as the mermaids at Weeki Wachee Springs;  the alligators at Gatorland (aka "Orlando's Best Half-Day Attraction") and the chaotic bacchanal of Key West.

He.talks to the quirky characters that give Florida its, well, character, such as Dave Shealy, the operator of something called the Skunk Ape Research Headquarters. He draws people to his campground in the Everglades with stories of a mysterious "ape" that roams the swamps.

Barry acknowledges the strangeness of it all, but at the same time embraces it. The book offers a fond look at the state, along with plenty of laughs.


(Please support this blog by clicking on ad.)

No comments:

Post a Comment