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The stories in this collection span characters, towns, decades, even centuries, but Florida—its landscape, climate, history, and state of mind—becomes its gravitational center: an energy, a mood, as much as a place of residence. Groff transports the reader, then jolts us alert with a crackle of wit, a wave of sadness, 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 and decisions and connections behind human pleasure and pain, hope and despair, love and fury—the moments that make us alive.

275 pages, Hardcover

First published June 5, 2018

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About the author

Lauren Groff

51 books5,115 followers
Lauren Groff was born in Cooperstown, N.Y. and grew up one block from the Baseball Hall of Fame. She graduated from Amherst College and has an MFA in fiction from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Her short stories have appeared or are forthcoming in a number of journals, including The Atlantic Monthly, Ploughshares, Glimmer Train, Hobart, and Five Points as well as in the anthologies Best American Short Stories 2007, Pushcart Prize XXXII, and Best New American Voices 2008.

She was awarded the Axton Fellowship in Fiction at the University of Louisville, and has had residencies and fellowships at Yaddo and the Vermont Studio Center.

She lives in Gainesville, Florida, with her husband, Clay, and her dog, Cooper.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,594 reviews
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,962 reviews293k followers
July 11, 2018
The truth might be moral, but it isn't always right.

Snakes, gators, swamps and storms form the backdrop of these exquisitely human stories.

I have to say I enjoyed Florida so much more than Fates and Furies. Groff's writing style is dense and wordy, metaphorical and poetic and - sometimes - exhausting. Reading her full-length novel was a chore, but for me at least, Groff seems born to write short stories. Small, hard-hitting snippets of lives that still make you feel emotionally-drained, but also thoughtful and satisfied.

The natural wonders and dangers of Florida play into almost all these stories. A snake devotee meets his end in the wilderness, at the hands of his life's passion. A stressed mother of two boys is injured in a literal cabin in the woods. Two abandoned children fight against starvation.

It's a book about people - often women and mothers, but not always - becoming unmoored and losing their way. The opening story is about a woman who takes to walking at night to calm her recently-acquired propensity for yelling. During these strolls, she observes her neighbors through their windows, unveiling pockets of their lives in punchy descriptions. It's amazing how much you can learn just by watching people.

For the most part, the stories seem to be narrating a series of events in intricate detail, observing nature and moments between people. But then, once in a while, Groff delivers a perfect line that captures a widespread thought or fear, tapping deep into the human psyche and offering insight.

It's extremely powerful.

CW: Child abuse/neglect; rape (non-graphic); general anxiety/depression.

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Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
4,005 reviews36k followers
November 18, 2018
The first line in “Florida”, never left me.....
“I have somehow become a woman who yells”. The entire first story was one of my favorites from the collection.

I’ve played with manatees- taken walks in the scorching heat, spent beach days with our dogs,
witnessed thousands of dead smelly fish along the coastline, and survived the panic of my daughter caught in the middle of a nasty hurricane.
Florida, flat as a pancake, with hurricanes- alligators- and snakes - sticky hot,
I miss the mountains and redwoods whenever I visit.

Lauren Groff got me with these short stories..
I didn’t expect much. I haven’t been a ‘goo-goo’ fan of her.
My fear is she’s ‘too’ brilliant for me to understand-
too sarcastic- too cynical - and simply sees the world through all that is wrong.

However... I kinda fell in love with Lauren and her stories in Florida.
I’m not jumping her fan band wagon just yet...
but I felt something in these stories that was missing for me in ‘Furies’.

Lauren is a wizard with words... an inventor with her sentences - an artist - creator - and part subtle comedian.
These stories are dark, but not without humor.
I can’t believe I’m saying this - but I could easily read this again. In fact - I’d love to - want to.
Lauren’s stories - spin on words - creative gorgeous sentences moved me. I experienced ‘all-that’s-wrong- with-the-world-funneled through mothers in Florida....through their anger & vulnerability... but also from a place of ownership & responsibility.

I enjoyed this book....and surprised myself.
Profile Image for Esil.
1,118 reviews1,336 followers
June 17, 2018
3+ stars

I loved Lauren Groff’s Fates and Furies. I thought the writing was absolutely brilliant and the story and characters were really original. So I was pretty excited to get my hands on Florida, which is Groff’s latest short story collection. Unfortunately, I can’t rave about the stories in the same way I raved about Fates and Furies. I recognize her talented writing, but there was a flat clever feel to her stories that made it hard for me to feel engaged. Most of the stories focused on women, often with young children, often in Florida, often with distant husbands, often dark, and all struggling with internal personal turmoil. Some stories were definitely better than others. There was one set during a wind storm in Florida, with a woman alone at home with her two boys that really got my attention. And she really captures the nuances of mothers’ love for young children. There’s a creepy story about two young girls left alone on an island. But, overall, these stories didn’t have me particularly excited. And I must also warn that it’s definitely not a book for who are afraid of snakes. Thanks to Edelweiss and the publisher for an opportunity to read an advance copy.
Profile Image for Dianne.
559 reviews906 followers
July 4, 2018
Here's the thing - I really do love Groff's writing. These short stories are no exception; she is a master craftsman. She paints so well with her words and phrasing. It's just that.....I don't do so well with "dark," and all eleven of these stories are pretty dark. I don't think Lauren Groff likes Florida very much!

Here's what I took away from this collection:

Florida is mold, feral cats, snakes, bugs, humidity, rot, spanish moss, vines, gators, sinkholes, homelessness, tent cities, termites, mosquitos, hurricanes, lizards, panthers, "a damp and dense tangle," bleaching sun, dread and heat

Motherhood is something to be deeply conflicted about. When in doubt, drink heavily.

Everyone is lonely; loneliness is everwhere and ghosts surround you. When lonely, drink heavily.

Men are predatory scum, rapists, abusive, devious, self-involved OR tender and kind fathers/husbands OR any combination of the above - yet another thing to be deeply conflicted about.

Global warming / climate change is something to obsess about on a daily basis.

These are all really well articulated stories, but they are also disturbingly bleak. I was relieved to be done with the book.

A 4 for the writing, a 3 for how much I "liked" it. If Goodreads allowed it, I would give this a 3.5, but rounding down to a 3 because I just didn't "really like" it. I'm spending two weeks in Florida in October. That gives me just over 3 months to shake this off!
Profile Image for Michael.
655 reviews966 followers
April 20, 2020
A collection of eleven short stories set mostly in the titular state, Florida examines the inner lives of young women and mothers afflicted by malaise, alcoholism, and, occasionally, despair. Abusive men, neglected children, unbearable storms, and the southern wilderness recur throughout the collection; the pieces gathered here feel like variations on the same set of themes. Groff writes lush sentences, full of palpable and unsettling images, and her stories move at a measured pace. Sometimes the stories felt scattered in focus, and occasionally I wished they would have ended on more definitive notes. Favorite stories included "Ghost and Empties," "Above and Below," and "Yport."
Profile Image for Katie.
268 reviews334 followers
February 21, 2020
If these stories are anything to go by Lauren Groff is almost comprehensively disillusioned with men. Men in these stories are either absent, inept, in another world or downright threatening. The last story - and by far the least successful - goes the whole hog and deploys Guy de Mauspassant to paint a thoroughly irksome and depressing portrait of masculinity.

As a Brit one tends to forget how many deadly creatures there are in the US. The most scary threat we face from the natural world here is perhaps a bee sting. Groff's Florida is teeming with aligators, snakes, wild cats, bears. And then there's the murderous weather. All the stories in Florida are about lonely nameless women stranded close to the heart of darkness. There's a constant sense - the pollution and corruption everywhere, the wild weather - that Armageddon isn't far away. It's a gloomy vision. But the writing, as you'd expect, is fabulously alive with vitality and eloquence.

Were I an editor I would have omitted the last and longest story. For me it spoilt this otherwise riveting collection of thematically linked stories. It wasn't very well written and it lacked the subtlety of the other stories. Strange that the only story about a novelist proved to be the weakest. If there's one subject a novelist ought to be able to make compelling it's her own profession but oddly Groff's novelist was never convincing. And the anti-male propaganda was over the top. It's the stories that are actually set in Florida that are the best.

I wonder if there exists a collection of short stories by anyone (Chekhov?) where the quality is maintained throughout. And I'm not sure it's a good idea to place the worst story last. By the time you come to review you have the disappointing final stories uppermost in your mind. A better trick would be to insert the worst stories in the middle and end with a cracker. I probably would have given this five stars if the order had been changed. After all, you expect a little tension to disappear in the middle of the novel but if it ends well you forget.

I was left feeling women need love more than men do. Now I'm wondering if that's true.
Profile Image for Hannah.
591 reviews1,052 followers
May 28, 2018
Any book called “Florida” needs to be infused by a thorough sense of place and Lauren Groff does just that. I have been a fan since LOVING Fates and Furies a few years back and have been meaning to pick up more of her books and this very strong collection of short stories has cemented her place in my heart.

While not every story is set in Florida, Groff’s protagonists all have a connection to that place, a connection they sometimes strain against and sometimes welcome. Her protagonists are women, depressed and difficult and wonderfully flawed women, often mothers with a difficult and believable relationship to motherhood. I loved the way these women are allowed to be difficult while Groff shines an unflinching spotlight on them and their flaws and the way they are suffocating in their own skin. I adore that theycan be unpleasant while ultimately staying sympathetic. I do wish this unpleasantness did not always also show itself in a disdain for their own and other bodies. Once I noticed that I could not unsee it. I would have liked there to be more variety in their deepest flaws because as it is the fixation on (often overweight) bodies feels unkind and unnecessary.

Lauren Groff is in perfect command of her language; her sentences are sharp in the way that I like them to be in realistic short fiction (comparisons to Roxane Gay came to mind here and that is obviously one of the highest compliments I can give a short story writer). The stories are meticulously structured and surprising while her perfect tone is recognizable in all of them.

Now, excuse me while I buy everything else she has ever written.

I received an arc of this book courtesy of NetGalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone in exchange for an honest review.
101 reviews
August 14, 2019
Lauren Groff is a gifted writer — Fates and Furies enthralled me! — but my eyes hurt from rolling them so hard at this book.

The main problem? The narrators are SO ANNOYING, and they're all the same! A 30-something woman with two young sons and a decent (if distant) husband, who fancies herself a sexy misfit because she never fits in with those other moms — the ones who remember to bring cupcakes to class, let their children play princesses, and don’t at least partially resent their role as mothers (despite said husband picking up the slack so she can write / jog / jet off to France).

She scorns plastic, fat Americans, and the very character of Florida. She goes to ridiculous lengths to prove how non-judgy she is of minorities. Example: When one white woman expresses confusion that a former acquaintance — a fair-skinned girl whom she knew until the age of five — is now black, the acquaintance (now grown) laughs it off and basically says "turns out my dad was black, and I got darker as I got older. Big deal." As if that's not totally bizarre? This incident added nothing to the plot. Or when friends ask another narrator if her neighborhood is dicey (the narrator purposely decided "not to barricade herself with her whiteness in a gated community"), she has to stop herself from asking if they mean black or poor, "because it's both." Her derisive attitude toward those who value safety and security annoyed me. I grew up in the ghetto. It's not hip.

The same self-conscious affectedness was at play in her descriptions of Florida. Native Floridians don't go around complaining about the vague sense of dread and death and decay that Florida gives off while naming every reptile that exists in our county. Also, I felt personally attacked by her comparison of Spanish moss to armpit hair.

The Midnight Zone, The Eye Wall, and Dogs Go Wolf were memorable and interesting.

Lauren's prose is delicate and beautiful, but it's of the pretentious modern style that calls too much attention to itself and emphasizes pointless details (bonus points if they're grotesque in some way) over the story. If she focused more on telling a good story and less on trying to force political self-righteousness into everything, I would gladly give her books another try.
Profile Image for PattyMacDotComma.
1,433 reviews814 followers
July 23, 2018
“When she was pregnant with Jude’s sister, she came into the bathroom to take a cool bath one August night and, without her glasses, missed the three‑foot albino alligator her husband had stored in the bathtub. The next morning, she was gone.”

Florida. Hot, sticky, treacherous, or as one character says “damp, dense tangle. An Eden of dangerous things.” I have spent time there, and I now live in a similar climate in Australia, so I can easily imagine myself in many of these stories. “Moving in the humidity was like forcing my way through wet silk.”

The Florida storms are horrific and frightening and wonderfully described. Standing next to the edge of a sinkhole in the rain must be terrifying, too. Climate change gets more than a passing mention in a few stories, because Florida, of course, is already being inundated by rising seas and hit by heavy storms.

One woman has exhausted her best friend’s patience with her constant worries about the future to the point that the friend has asked to take a break from her. She just wishes she could take a break from herself!

Most of the main characters are of a youngish or early middle-age group, although there is one in particular who worried about becoming what is often referred to a ‘woman of a certain age’. She had rented an apartment in Salvador for a two-week escape from caring for her elderly mother. Her guilt-ridden sisters paid for her holiday every year, so she goes to live it up.

“Helena was in that viscous pool of years in her late thirties when she could feel her beauty slowly departing from her. She had been lovely at one time, which slid into pretty, which slid into attractive, and now, if she didn’t do something major to halt the slide, she’d end up at handsomely middle‑aged, which was no place at all to be.”

I’d be happy with “handsomely middle-aged”, but then I’m not trying to party hearty, fitting in a year’s worth of escapades into a couple of weeks. Poor Helena.

There’s no question that Groff is a good writer. I think if I’d read any of these stories separately in The New Yorker Magazine or other publications where her writing appears, I’d have seriously enjoyed them. As it is, I found them repetitive and unrelentingly dismal.

From the woman who goes running to escape – her husband, her kids, the nightly chores of bath and bed (or maybe life itself) – to the woman who takes her two little boys to France to escape Florida, with its storms, snakes and deadly creatures in the dark. There is a lot of bemoaning their condition and a lot of drinking of wine. Bottle after bottle, drunk alone.

I felt as if all these women could be summed up by the one who took her little boys overseas, hoping to enjoy a voyage of self-discovery.

“She doesn’t belong in France, perhaps she never did; she was always simply her flawed and neurotic self, even in French. Of all places in the world, she belongs in Florida. How dispiriting, to learn this of herself.”

Dispirited is how I felt most of the time while reading this, and annoyed, because it is obvious to me that this is someone whose writing I’d enjoy, but not about women like this who all seem to be slightly different but equally miserable versions of each other. I waited a few days to write this, and I have to admit I find it hard to remember any of them separately. They’ve all melded together, single, married, rich or poor.

I will definitely look for Groff’s highly acclaimed first book, though.

Thanks to NetGalley and Random House / William Heinemann for the preview copy from which I’ve quoted.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,338 reviews696 followers
April 27, 2023
3.5 stars

“Florida” by Lauren Groff is a collection of short stories involving women (all the protagonists are women) and the state of Florida. These are dark and gloomy stories; stories that make one second-guess their impending Floridian vacation. I knew about the alligator and hurricane threats, but now I’m going to be paranoid about snakes as well! Although the stories have a morose bent, they are mesmerizing. Why read this collection? Because Groff is the author. “Fates and Furies” is by far a superior read, however these stories are worth your time reading.
Profile Image for Rebecca.
3,603 reviews2,575 followers
May 31, 2018
Two major, connected threads in this superb story collection are ambivalence about Florida, and ambivalence about motherhood. There’s an oppressive atmosphere throughout, with environmental catastrophe an underlying threat. Set-ups vary in scope from almost the whole span of a life to one scene. A dearth of named characters emphasizes just how universal the scenarios and emotions are. Groff’s style is like a cross between Karen Russell’s Swamplandia! and Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, and her unexpected turns of phrase jump off the page.

The narrator of “The Midnight Zone,” staying with her sons in a hunting camp 20 miles from civilization, ponders the cruelty of time and her failure to be sufficiently maternal, while the woman in “Flower Hunters” is so lost in an eighteenth-century naturalist’s book that she forgets to get Halloween costumes for her kids. A few favorites of mine were “Ghosts and Empties,” in which the narrator goes for long walks at twilight and watches time passing through the unwitting tableaux of the neighbors’ windows; “Eyewall,” a matter-of-fact ghost story; and “Above and Below,” in which a woman slips into homelessness – it’s terrifying how precarious her life is at every step.

Florida feels innovative and terrifyingly relevant. Any one of its stories is a bracing read; together they form a masterpiece.

(I reviewed this for the May 30th Stylist “Book Wars” column.)

Some favorite lines:
“What had been built to seem so solid was fragile in the face of time because time is impassive, more animal than human. Time would not care if you fell out of it. It would continue on without you.” (from “The Midnight Zone”)

“The wind played the chimney until the whole place wheezed like a bagpipe.” (from “Eyewall”)

“everybody is sleeping save for the tree frogs and the sinners” (from “Snake Stories”)

“How lonely it would be, the mother thinks, looking at her children, to live in this dark world without them.” (from “Yport”)
Profile Image for Lorna.
680 reviews367 followers
April 29, 2020
Florida by Lauren Groff caught my eye with the stalking panther on the black cover and in block letters, FLORIDA, as we were spending a few months in the southeast part of that magnificent and diverse state. When we travel, I try to read a lot of books pertaining to the region. Therefore, I have been immersed in a lot of wonderful literature of the American South as well as Florida. When I began reading this book of eleven short stories, I was totally enthralled, sometimes frightened and other times appalled, but always intrigued. Lauren Groff pits the immensity of the huge state of Florida and all of its hidden and explosive dangers within the lives of the people she focuses on, and the common theme is one not only of danger but also survival. There are always the threats of hurricanes, alligators, panthers, snakes and all such predators. Don't let me scare you. I love the state of Florida, and I loved this book. Many of the stories had the strains of autobiographical experiences, all taking place in Florida, and culminating in the last story where a young mother took her two young sons to France and they immersed themselves in the culture of Paris and west to the Alabaster coast where she was researching Guy Maupassant. Ultimately she realized that she belongs in Florida; that is her home. This was a beautiful book and the predominant theme throughout was one of women and children, even when in peril, being able to meet the inherent challenges with strength, endurance, and grace.

Lauren Groff has been called the Gabriel Garcia Marquez of Gainesville, Florida, and I totally agree with that comparison, as he has been a favorite author of mine for many years and there is a parallel with the magical realism and lyrical and beautiful prose. The story goes that when her husband moved the family to Florida, she made him sign a contract that they would leave after ten years; she has now lived in Gainesville for twelve years and has adopted the state of Florida as her home. Her stories are lyrical and haunting. I am looking forward to reading her other books.

"Of all the places in the world, she belongs in Florida. How dispiriting, to learn this of herself."
Profile Image for Meike.
1,511 reviews2,449 followers
December 4, 2019
When it comes to evocative prose, this is top-notch: As the title indicates, Groff creates a strong sense of place and her writing is extremely atmospheric. The damp heat, the glaring sun, the pouring rain, the neighborhoods, the relationships between people and their inner movements, and again and again: wild animals - it's all there, and very much alive. My problem though was that there are a lot of acute observations and empathic explorations of human feelings, but often, I didn't care much for the plot of the stories. In quite a few of the eleven texts compiled in this collection, what happens just isn't particularly interesting, so as the book went on, I started struggling to finish it.

Groff puts her focus on the inner lives of her characters, often women, wives and mothers who ponder their multiple roles. Unlike Rachel Cusk, who choses a raw and blunt approach to these issues, Groff's voice is laconic and she creates tension by connecting the oppressive weather and nature of the surroundings with her protagonists' meandering contemplations. Not all stories are set in Florida, but they all rely on the psychological effects of their setting.

I really enjoyed some of these stories, like the one about two girls who are left behind by grown-ups or the one about a mother who walks through the neighborhood to get a break from her family. Nevertheless, the book did not manage to hold my attention throughout: There is just too much atmosphere and not enough substance for my taste. But what Groff aims to do, she does excellently, and everybody who enjoys introspective, evocative writing will treasure this collection.
Profile Image for Jenny (Reading Envy).
3,876 reviews3,048 followers
October 7, 2018
These stories feel to me like a continuation of St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell (high praise from me as this remains my favorite short story collection), where Florida remains wild and unsettling and the people managing to live there have some of the same traits. There are also themes of missing parents, negligent/tired mothers, excessive drinking and other escapes, and infidelities that seem tucked away between paragraphs for the careful reader to notice and connect. I'm almost glad the temperature here is approaching 90 with high humidity because it matched the reading experience!
Profile Image for Anna.
758 reviews512 followers
September 10, 2018
“Ghosts and Empties” 3 stars
“At the Round Earth’s Imagined Corners” 3 stars
“Dogs Go Wolf” 2 stars
“The Midnight Zone” 2 stars
“Eyewall” 2 stars
“For the God of Love, for the Love of God” 2.5 stars
“Salvador” 2.5 stars
“Flower Hunters” 2 stars
“Above and Below” 2 stars
“Snake Stories” 2 stars
“Yport” 4 stars

Each story is slowly smothered by the overwritten prose, characters burdened with the most random thoughts and vaguest gestures. You might be spying on strangers and making up their stories from the snippets overheard, only to find out they’re going nowhere in particular... You find yourself reading two paragraphs of food items bought at a grocery store, about candy bars and rotted fruit shimmering with wasps, about overstuffed refrigerators with rotten food and other useless furnishings. I’ve always considered enumerations redundant, especially in short stories.

“Do you normally just follow people without knowing where you’re going?”, one of the characters asks at some point… That’s what it felt like reading this snaky (pun very much intended), unfiltered stream-of-consciousness type of narratives. Some of the images and metaphors made me cringe, while the structure of the stories didn’t help either. I just finished this collection and I can barely recount any of them.

Overall 2.5ish stars
Profile Image for Teresa.
Author 8 books782 followers
December 30, 2019
Though I’m guessing several of these stories are autobiographical in nature, most have a distancing effect. Even in some of the third-person narrations, for only one thing, we’re not told the name of the main characters. These main characters are mostly wine-drinking mothers, with two young boys, living in Florida though originally from upstate New York, mostly happily married, though the husbands are largely absent. The characters are called “the mother,” “the older/bigger boy,” “the younger/little boy.”

The first story is not one of plot, setting the stage of a northern Florida neighborhood that the narrator obsessively walks, eventually noting changes in the place and people. As she describes her walks, I felt as if she had spied on my own. Parental anxiety about children having to fend for themselves informs a few of the stories. There are snakes, hurricanes (and a perfectly described storm in Salvador), oppressive heat, and sinkholes.

Groff’s strength is her novelistic short-stories, stories that contain more than just a slice of the main character’s life but a whole arc. The best of these was “Above and Below,” a scarily realistic story of a young woman who goes from grad-school teaching-assistant to homelessness.

Last night, before reading the last story, I saw that this book was on Ted’s ‘have’ and ‘to-read’ list, so I dedicated my reading of “Yport” to him. Set over a month in France, a vaguely dissatisfied, anxious, wine-drinking mother, researching Guy du Maupassant, vacationing with her two young boys while her husband stays in Florida working, eventually comes to realizations about her life in Florida. I thought the story overly long, and it was my least favorite, but I never wanted to stop reading it. I don't know what Ted would’ve thought of this collection, but I know we would’ve had a a satisfying conversation.
Profile Image for Blaine.
747 reviews607 followers
August 3, 2022
I loved Fates and Furies, so Florida was a must-read for me even though I’m not a big fan of short story collections. The writing, of course, is excellent. But the stories often left me a bit flat, and there’s a repetition that runs through most of them: an unhappy woman reflecting upon how her life is not what she expected or wants. I particularly enjoyed the stories “At the Round Earth’s Imagined Corners,” “The Midnight Zone,” and “Eyewall.”

Recommended for fans of short story collections. But you should absolutely read Fates and Furies first. 😄
Profile Image for Kasa Cotugno.
2,353 reviews452 followers
June 27, 2018
During a recent visit, Lauren Groff shared that when her husband proposed moving back to his native Florida, she, appalled, made him sign a contract that they would leave in 10 years years. That was more than 12 years ago. In the intervening years, she has come to love the state and all its weirdness, and even gave it the top acknowledgement for this, her excellent book of short stories. She knows she is a short story writer, having entered Amherst as an aspiring poet and having the intelligence to recognize that wasn't the path for her. She admits her forays into novels as an aberration (successful though those sidesteps may be), which explains why her stories are so rich, so immersive, and impossible to read in one gulp. They must be paced out. I've said in other reviews that when collections of short stories are good, they are hard work for a reader since it is like reading an entire shelf of well thought-out books, requiring more effort than say a 300 page novel.

What each story has in common here is someone in difficulty, either women or children, usually in danger from forces of nature rather than from another human being. That's what gives these stories their originality -- the unpredictability, impersonality and power behind forces which one cannot control. There is much reference to literature that Groff holds dear (when asked, she responded that she read material she loved multiple times, e.g., she had read the first volume of Proust's Remembrance of Time Past at least 8 times but hadn't progressed to the other volumes), and one story delves into the personality of Guy de Maupassant. A very impressive collection from a more than impressive writer.
Profile Image for cypt.
515 reviews646 followers
February 1, 2021
"Florida" man - viena šių metų knygų!

Neskaičiau "Moirų ir furijų", nors jau niežti nagai. (Girdėjau, kad LT vertimas prastas, kaži ar teisybė? Ieškosiu EN.) Taigi čia pirma pažintis su Lauren Groff, bet ieškosiu jos ir daugiau, kuo daugiau.

Knyga - apsakymų rinkinys, jų apie 10, įvairaus ilgio. Skaitydama vis prisimindavau Enriquez "Tai, ko netekome ugnyje" ir galvojau, kad kažkuriuo lygmeniu tai panašūs tekstai, tik Groff neįtikėtinai geresnė - bent man. Pas ją nėra Lovecraftų ir panašių siaubų (nors iš kur man žinot, aš vis dar neskaičiau Lovecrafto.....), bet paties siaubo pilna.

Tiesa, tai savotiškas siaubas - ne tiesiogiai suprantamas, bet veikiau toks, kuris kyla iš: 1) visiškai nepažinios, keistos gamtos, kurios DAUG (aplink vyniojasi keisčiausi augalai, kuriuose skendi miestai, pumos, gyvatės, čia pat apsiaučiančios namus, stichijos - uraganai ir pan), 2) kito žmogaus, ir kas baisiausia - artimo žmogaus (neaiškią nežinią kelia vyras, su kuriuo gyveni, jo replikos, nuosavi vaikai, jų bejėgiškumas ir kažkoks nesuprantamas, tau svetimas gyvybingumas). Apskritai visuose apsakymuose skirtingais pavidalais iškyla kažkuo ta pati veikėja, kartais pasakotoja - moteris, motina, atvykėlė negalinti įsilieti į šiurpią Floridos gamtą, bandanti prisijaukinti aplinką - miestą, salą, svetimus žmones, langus - bet vis tiek susikalbėjimo nepasiekianti.

Groff labai metaforiška - ne sakinio, o siužeto lygmeny. Metaforas nėra sunku pagauti, pvz: uraganas ir jo draskomas pasaulis atpučia žmones iš praeities, kurie tau buvo svarbūs (nebūtinai brangūs), kad atsisveikintum ir / arba juos iškentėtum paskutinį kartą. Labai graži man buvo atvykėliškumo ir svetimumo metafora - beveik jokiu atveju tai nesiejama nei su kalba, nei su kultūra (fiziškai dažniausiai tai JAV šiaurinių valstijų gyventojos atvykimas į pietines valstijas, ty Floridą), nėra jokių nugrotų skirčių kaip miestas/kaimas, civilizacija/laukiniai ir pan. Labiau apie tai, kaip sunku yra pažinti kitą žmogų, dažnai apskritai neįmanoma, net jei tas žmogus su tavim dalinasi namais, gyvenimu. Jokių realaus siaubo siužetų iš to nekyla, bet pati mintis savaime šiurpi, o čia ji labai po truputį ir keroja.

Skaičiau labai netrukus po Marksono "Wittgensteino meilužės", ir tos knygos, šiaip visai nepanašios, staiga susisiejo: Groff smarkiai intertekstuali, poezijos eilutės šitoj knygoj kartais net tampa atsvara gyvatėms / nesuprantamiems žmonėms. Vienam apsakyme - buvusi dėstytoja / postdokė (jei gerai supratau akademinę gradaciją), dabar benamė, nakvoja mašinoj, kartais apsilanko savo univero bibliotekoj, kur jos niekas nebeatpažįsta, kartais sutinka buvusius studentus ir studentes, su wtf jausmu prisimena, kaip dėstydavo literatūros teorijas ir ginčydavosi dėl belekokių abstraktų. Kitam apsakyme - dešimt metų negalinti pabaigti knygos literatūrologė, tyrinėjanti Guy de Maupassant'ą. Tipo Maupassant'as - jos literatūrinė meilė, bet pamažu paaiškėja, kad iš visų jo apsakymų jai patinka max kokie 5, jei ne 3, o apskritai jo biografija jai darosi tuo atgrasesnė, kuo daugiau gilinasi. Galiausiai ir tekstai, ir intertekstai galiausiai nebegelbsti, neištraukia iš vienatvės. Kaip ir pas Marksoną - tik ne taip žaidybiškai, ne eksperimentiškai, greičiau šiaip liūdnokai. Bet labai gyvai.

Gamtinis intro:
Kol vaikštau, mūsų rajone sutemsta ir ant dieninio rajono išsivynioja antras rajonas. Gatvės žibintų pas mus nedaug, praeinant po jais mano šešėlis ima dūkti: atsilieka, atšuoliuoja prie kojų, nustriksi pirmyn. Kiti šviesos šaltiniai – tik praeinamų namų langai ir mėnuo, įsakantis man pakelti akis, pakelti akis! Po kojomis nardo laukinės katės, iš šešėlių stirkso strelicijos, į orą iškvepiami kvapai – ąžuolo dulkių, gleivūnų, kamparo. [p. 9]
Profile Image for Thomas.
1,458 reviews8,561 followers
January 8, 2022
Okay I’ll just say it, I really did not enjoy reading this collection. On the plus side Lauren Groff writes about women who do not feign happiness and who have interesting, often dark desires and feelings. I appreciated how this gender-related theme dispels notions of suburban/nuclear family-oriented happiness. At the same time, I found it difficult to care about or understand these stories. Her characters receive little background development and the stories consist of people engaging in pretty random gestures and thought patterns. Groff’s writing itself felt bland. There are many descriptions of nature, which did not strike me as particularly memorable. Onto the next book!
Profile Image for Janet.
Author 22 books87.7k followers
December 20, 2018
This powerhouse of a book, a collection of short stories to cause your socks to shoot from your feet. I generally prefer novels, I have trouble settling into short stories. They're over all too soon, and they still feel unfinished. But not this time. The stories pull you in immediately, and when they've lived out their astonishing, twisty, unpredictable paths, you've gotten everything there is, you don't need a single sentence more. What a writer!

The stories are either set in Florida or have Floridian protagonists in other settings, the bulk of them the former. And what a Florida! The savagery of the landscape--its hurricanes particularly vivid and featuring in several of the stories, the overarching doom of climate change, mangrove swamps and sinkholes and heat and sinister fauna, bugs and alligators, panthers and snakes-- especially snakes--this is an outer world which matches and speaks for the desperation and invisible woundedness of its characters.

Many of the stories center on mothers, and not the attentive, well-adjusted kind. Most feature a feral kind of woman, doing her best sometimes, but ignoring the red flags of her own nature and the world around her. A graduate student goes to pieces--we watch her strangely passive slide to society's bottom. Women ignore clear signs of storms. Children are abandoned, orphaned, imperiled, cared for by unstable and unpredictable mothers. It's the kind of book that makes you shout out loud for its sheer firepower--that makes you stop and reread sentences and paragraphs for their specificity and beauty.

Here's a character after an accident in one story:

"The lantern flicked itself out and the dark poured in... The batteries of one lantern went out and the light from the remaining lantern was sparse and thwarted... I feasted my eyes on the cabin, which in the connoting black had turned into a place made of gold, but the shadows seemed too thick now, fizzy at the edges, and they moved when I shifted my eyes away from them. It felt safer to look at the cheeks of my sleeping children, creamy as cheeses.

"The wind rose again and it had personality; it was in a sharpish, meanish mood. It rubbed itself against the little cabin and played at the corners and broken sticks of the trees and tossed them at the roof so they jigged down like creatures with strange and scrabbling claws. The wind rustled its endless body against the door.

"Everything depended on my staying still, but my skin was stuffed with itches. Something terrible in me, the darkest thing, wanted to slam my own head back against the headboard. I imagined it over and over, the sharp backward crack, and the wash and spill of peace."

There isn't a shred of sentimentality here, though I can feel the author's sympathy for her flailing, difficult women. Heartbreaking, suspenseful, knowing. I think this is my favorite book of this year. Not big--ten stories and one novella length piece--and yet each story is huge in emotional impact.
Profile Image for Marchpane.
293 reviews2,128 followers
September 29, 2018
I’ve never visited Florida, but I do live in a similar climate so this setting, while foreign, felt more familiar than exotic to me. The heat and humidity, lush foliage, abundant wildlife mainly of the pointy-toothed kind, houses built on stumps with ceiling fans and sleepouts in concession to the weather – all are recognisable and skilfully evoked here. Groff’s prose style is impeccable, yet it seems so effortless.

Several of the stories in Florida toy with the creeping fear that arises when we remember that the natural world can never be fully tamed – whether because of natural disasters or the unseen presence of a lurking man-eater – as well as the more modern fear of being ‘out of range’ ie, cut off and isolated in some way.

Florida pervades this collection in subtler ways too, with the thick, stifling air of a humid day translating to an oppressive atmosphere of middle-class malaise. Groff’s characters behave in similar ways even when the locale changes (one story is set in Brazil, two in France), and it’s hard sometimes not to feel like these are all variations on the same woman, suffocating slowly on her own life.

Generally, I prefer when authors use the short story format as an opportunity to take risks, to play with the form and ideas in ways that couldn’t sustain a longer book. The stories should feel fully-formed and self-contained, not like a sample chapter or the embryonic beginnings of a novel-that-never-was. The two interludes in France (‘For the God of Love, For the Love of God’, and ‘Yport’) felt like the latter and as such, a bit unsatisfying for me.

The most memorable piece was ‘Above and Below’, about a young academic’s slide into homelessness. Brilliant and haunting and brimming with the kind of writing that can conjure an indelible image with a single sentence. Also terrific were ‘Eyewall’, about a woman waiting out a destructive hurricane alone in her house, and ‘Dogs Go Wolf’, about two very young girls trying to survive on an island after the adults disappear.
Profile Image for Jenna ❤ ❀  ❤.
789 reviews1,183 followers
December 18, 2018
I'm not much of a fan of short stories but something about this book kept pulling at me, insisting I read it. Lauren Groff writes beautifully and with many and ever deepening layers. A few of the stories I really loved, a few I liked, and 2 I didn't much care for, but I'm glad I read this book.
Profile Image for Timothy Urgest.
506 reviews263 followers
July 27, 2020
During the day, while my sons are in school, I can’t stop reading about the disaster of the world, the glaciers dying like living creatures, the great Pacific trash gyre, the hundreds of unrecorded deaths of species, millennia snuffed out as if they were not precious. I read and savagely mourn, as if reading could somehow sate this hunger for grief, instead of what it does, which is fuel it.

Florida is a strong collection of short stories all linked in some way to the humid, verdant wildness that is Florida.

Nature is always just—humankind is anything but. A little introspection is all it takes for the staying of a hand that has the power to harm.
Profile Image for Britany.
966 reviews418 followers
December 15, 2018
Being a Florida native, I had to pick this book up. This book solidly places Lauren Groff as an author I must read.

Short stories are really hard for me. I have a hard time connecting to the characters and separating the narratives out from each story. Some are stronger than others and some feel like filler. I immediately grasped onto Groff's writing. Her descriptions of the geography, the people, the relationships, and even the wildlife and vegetation are spot on. I appreciate her lens onto a few synapses of Florida life and Florida as a place. A few of the stories are stronger than others- the sisters trapped on an island, the couples drinking champagne and sharing secrets, and the panther in the wilderness.

If you are one that enjoys short stories, this book should go at the top of your list. If you are not a fan of short stories, this collection is sincerely worthwhile. I appreciated the warm hug of my home.
Profile Image for Dovilė Filmanavičiūtė.
82 reviews2,192 followers
December 28, 2019
Visiškas kosmosas. Tikrai papuola į metų wow.
Sako, kad “Florida” nepalieka abejingų: arba atima žadą, arba nepatenkina iki galo, nes atseit ne tokia kaip “Moiros ir furijos”.
Aš tikrai nežinau kam reikia lyginti obuolius ir slyvas.
Man “Moiros ir furijos” visiškai išsprogdino galvą, taip stipriai jos pritvinkusios toksiškų santykių buvo ir mane tai labai pribloškė, o dar, juokas juokais, bet po tos knygos aš ėmiau tikėti, kad marketinginis lipdukas “mėgstamiausia Baracko Obamos knyga” tikrai šį tą reiškia. Jei jūs neskaitėt “Moirų ir furijų”, tai bėgte.
O tada iškart prie “Floridos”, nes po jos man Lauren Groff oficialiai yra mylimiausia rašytoja kartu su Kent.
Tokia tiršta, klampi, gaivališka, lipni, fantasmagoriška ši knyga, odie. Visiškai drėgna, tanki raizgalynė. Pavojingų dalykų Edenas.
Aš nuoširdžiai nesuvokiu koks gylis turi plytėti rašytojuje, kad jis išleistų tokius žvėris iš savęs kaip Groff.
Po kiekvieno apsakymo reikėdavo sustoti pakvėpuoti, tik tada imtis kito.
Uffff, koks literatūrinis svaigulys ir skrydis.
Beje, tai dar vienas Gabrielės Gailiūtės - Bernotienės vertinys, po kurio norisi sušukti BRAVO!
O dabar einu iš naujo prie knygų stirtos medituot.
Profile Image for Laura .
362 reviews133 followers
February 24, 2020
A collection of eleven short stories
On the surface these stories glitter with astute observations of the natural world, male/female relationships and in particular the role of (reluctant) mother to two small boys.
Some I liked, some I disliked and several were so, so – that’s normal in a collection, but I also felt the editor(s) had slipped in stories which were not relevant to the title – Florida. Two of the stories are set in rural France and a third in Salvador, Brazil – the rest in various parts of the Orange Juice state – Florida.

I liked her focus on the Environment - the noise made by air conditioners; poor people make do with wide verandas and ceiling fans – something I can relate to. Information about sinkholes appearing – and her descriptions of snakes, bull gators, palmettos and chinaberry trees. The first story, Ghosts and Empties sets the scene and gives a vivid depiction of modern north Florida. A woman who tries to unwind from the pressures of childcare, jogs and walks through the night observing houses and the people who live in her neighbourhood:

Northern Florida is cold in January and I walk fast for warmth but also because, though the neighbourhood is antique – huge Victorian houses radiating outward into 1920s bungalows, then mid-century modern ranches at the edges it’s imperfectly safe. … We moved here ten years ago because our house was cheap and had virgin-lumber bones, and because I decided that if I had to live in the South, with its boiled peanuts and its Spanish moss dangling like armpit hair, at least I wouldn’t barricade myself with my whiteness in a gated community.

The next story At the Round Earth’s Imagined Corners moves forward through time, giving an overview of development in Florida and uses the particular story of one family to show how the state has moved from wilderness, and sparse settlement to large scale developments with towns, roads, and university sites permanently altering and changing, or destroying the natural environment. It follows one family and their history, moving from the World War II years into the late 20th century. The father is a herpetologist; a university researcher, collecting and studying snakes and other reptiles. He gradually sells his land to the expanding University but ultimately acknowledges that the habitat of the wild creatures he admires has been lost for ever.

A third story I quite liked, retains Groff’s theme of the natural world – focussing on a vivid description of being inside a hurricane – the narrator is protected only by the sturdy bones of an old house. Eyewall.

And then in the middle of the book – we move onto some dodgy ground. Try this for a change in style and topic:

Helena was in that viscous pool of years in her late thirties when she could feel her beauty slowly departing from her. She had been lovely at one time, which slid into pretty, which slid into attractive, and now, if she didn’t do something major to halt the slide, she’d end up at handsomely middle-aged, which was no place at all to be.

Really? I don’t personally know of any female, friend, relative or acquaintance of mine who in her Late Thirties would consider “her beauty slowly departing”! I suppose Groff is identifying a particular type of female?

Anyway, this story set in Salvador – entitled Salvador, is about an American woman who likes to spend her yearly holiday, away from her aging mother, in the company of men. She meets her comeuppance, however, in the form of a local shopkeeper, who rescues her from a vicious storm. She is dragged into the shelter of his shop and then preyed upon by his lascivious closeness – in the dark. So, Groff stages a clash: in types from different social and economic class. And, why not – you may ask? The foreign tourist indulges her whims – in a country where she feels free to disregard the local people - but it feels – overdone. Better writers have tackled this type of disparity between individuals from different backgrounds before Groff; Bessie Head, for example or Nadine Gordimer, Paul Theroux or the American icon – Paul Bowles; they all write without the overt moralising tone.

One set in France – I disliked intensely – For the God of Love, For the Love of God – hard to see the connection between the title and the story. And I suspect written for a Woman’s Mag - Glamour, Cosmopolitan etc. Why is it in this collection? There is a tenuous link in that two of the characters are from Florida; a third, Jennifer (Genevieve) spent time there before marrying her foreign husband. The bulk of the story, however, is German castles, champagne, baron Manfred who has had a manic episode and the three dissembling, Americans – all eager to switch partners. Grant who is about to dump his girlfriend Amanda suggests a threesome with Jennifer. Etc.

The Midnight Zone – is about a mother who stays with her two small boys in an abandoned hunting camp; she falls and is badly injured and the children have to wait until their father returns. How she copes with this situation and the children’s reactions – is riveting - a story I think based on a real incident.

Another story, Dogs Go Wolf is about two children abandoned on an island. It holds minute details of how indeed they might think or feel or react in such a situation – don’t worry the children find a holiday maker just before they are about to succumb to starvation.

One I partially liked: Above and Below, is about a graduate student, forced to live in her car. It also centres on different aspects of deprivation and poverty but then expands away from the students' situation to a much broader situation and - becomes unbelievable. The female narrator ends up in a camp of homeless women and children – but it lacked the visceral detail of the earlier parts of the story.

Overall I think Groff has moments of originality and insight – the last story Yport – which I noticed many reviewers didn’t like, was I thought one of the better ones. It is long and it wanders, but it does have a strong focus on the two children. The mother gradually gains insight into how her constant worries are affecting them - a sort of osmosis. So this one felt genuine, authentic; and although it is set in France with zero connection to Florida I liked it. The story of a mother writing truthfully about the demands of child-care and those sudden provoking insights into how we care about our children is both brave and true.

Hard to rate – some of the stories deserve less than one star, the last borders between 3/4 stars - a very mixed bunch.
Profile Image for Amy.
567 reviews63 followers
June 8, 2018
This book doesn't bother with quotation marks, and it's full of snakes. I hate both of those things. Yet here I am, giving it 5 stars. Enough said.
Profile Image for Cosimo.
416 reviews
June 12, 2019
La sente avvicinarsi, la notte dell'umanità

“Ora una parte imprecisabile del suo corpo viene presa da una sete, un senso di struggimento, una sete di cosa? Forse di gentilezza, di un senso morale chiaro e forte e più grande di lei, qualcosa che possa ammantarla, no, no, qualcosa in cui lei possa nascondersi per un minuto e restare al sicuro”.

Non c'è molto da dire, la scrittura di Lauren Groff in questa raccolta si esprime splendidamente, superba e impersonale come un puma, sinuosa e fulminea come un serpente, a soffiare emozioni nel diaframma del lettore come il cielo solare della Florida in forma di persona, di madre, di ragazza, di studiosa, di scrittrice, di amico amorevole, di vite intense e dense. ”La solitudine è pericolosa per una mente che lavora”. Di cosa parlano i racconti, tra rifugi di caccia, vigneti, paludi, temporali, oceano e uragani: una studiosa con due figli compie un viaggio in Normandia e incontra la nostalgia e la perdita; un uomo fugge il buio dell'ombra paterna diventando un buon marito, il correre come strumento di meditazione, il dolore come fame da saziare o alimentare; e ancora la selvatichezza delle emozioni, l'imprevedibile potenza della natura quando un uragano devasta il paesaggio e le case, che accolgono anime ruvide e solitarie. E poi l'ambiguità dell'altro, negli incontri e nell'oblio, il vivere dispersi e miseri nel mondo senza un tetto e senza nodi, misurandosi con la salvezza transitoria e la delicatezza dei legami. Così in queste storie l'autrice porta a maturità i simboli, la luminosità e l'oscurità, il bene e il male; rappresenta e sonda l'interiorità con uno sguardo corposo e obliquo, in uno stile intimo e irrelato al tempo stesso, investendoti sia di energie notturne e animali che di presenze illusorie e intrusioni metafisiche. Ha affermato Lauren Groff in un'intervista: Invece di costruire un'antologia in blocco, lascio che il tempo passi, che le storie si parlino l'una con l'altra sotto la superficie del linguaggio. Le domande della prima storia vengono cambiate e complicate nella successiva e così via fino a quella finale che fa a pezzi le domande iniziali. Non ci sono risposte, solo domande più complicate e possibilmente più interessanti”. Angosce e apprensioni attraggono e respingono il lettore sorpreso, in quel ”grande disastro che è il mondo”. Sembra che la donna di Groff conviva con la paura costante di non essere in grado di accudire, in primo luogo se stessa; nel suo ecosistema irrompe, sul confine con l'inquietudine che effluisce, la violenza primordiale e incontrollata, contrapponendosi in piena innaturalezza al trascorrere delle cose. Groff dipinge classicamente le figure di sopravvivenza tra umano e non umano, tra vita e non vita, e noi restiamo ammaliati quando il lato peggiore delle vicende trova uno scioglimento arrendevole, ellittico e espiatorio.
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