Florida by Lauren Groff

I think I hit the library hold jackpot scoring this the same week it was published (isn’t it wonderful when that happens!!). Having not read any of Groff’s earlier work (Fates and Furies, Arcadia, The Monsters of Templeton) I did not know what to expect from this short story collection.

Groff’s writing is visceral, gritty and imaginative and I found myself compelled to note down some particularly beautiful turns of phrase. In the first story (Ghosts and Empties) the female character is walking around her neighborhood in the evening: “On my night walks the neighbors’ lives reveal themselves, the lit windows domestic aquariums.” In other stories within this collection motorcycles are described to have “roared like murder” and a storm described as a “hurricane’s bruise.” I loved Groff’s use of language and her descriptions are some of the most unique I’ve come across in a while!

That being said, for me the collection fell disappointingly flat. I found the stories were written in an almost stream of consciousness and distracted manner, and I often found myself losing the connection that started so strongly in the first few lines of each story. While I appreciated the varied characters and the humanity of their experiences, I found myself so tangled in the movement of thoughts that I couldn’t keep hold of the flow of the story itself. My favorite stories within the collection, At The Round Earth’s Imagined Corners, The Midnight Zone, and Salvador were standouts. They were immersive and captured the storms and snakes and gothic-like character to Florida that I felt got lost in the rest of the collection.

I will definitely pick up Fates and Furies as I think Groff has a unique way with words that intrigues me, though this is not one of the stronger uses of the short story format that I’ve come across. ⭐️⭐️⭐️

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