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Florida Man

3.48  ·  Rating details ·  191 ratings  ·  52 reviews
Florida, circa 1980. Reed Crowe, the eponymous Florida Man, is a middle-aged beach bum, beleaguered and disenfranchised, living on ill-gotten gains deep in the jungly heart of Florida. When sinkholes start opening on Emerald Island, not only are Reed Crowe's seedy businesses--a moribund motel and a shabby amusement park--endangered, but so are his secrets. Crowe, amateur s ...more
Hardcover, 416 pages
Published July 28th 2020 by Random House
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Average rating 3.48  · 
Rating details
 ·  191 ratings  ·  52 reviews

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Jun 19, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: netgalley
I enjoyed The Marauders, so I had high hopes for Florida Man. But the writing here is very choppy. I always worry when a book gives a list of characters at the beginning, like this one does. It implies the reader is going to have trouble keeping everyone straight. I actually had no trouble keeping the characters straight, I just had trouble giving two hoots about them.
Reed Crowe runs a half assed tourist attraction and hotel in 1980s Florida. He’s barely hanging on, unable to pay his bills. He’
Aug 01, 2020 rated it it was ok
I could not get into this book at all. The writing was extremely choppy and the characters where unlike able and not well developed. This book just wasn’t for me at all.
Five Fantastic stars! Cooper hit it out of the park with this one.

Florida Man, on one level, offers us another journey through the great crime fiction motif of the young innocent finding a suitcase full of cash and hoping the bad dudes who lost it won’t figure out he’s got it and come looking for him. Here, the story brilliantly opens with a young couple parked at the edge of the Everglades doing what young couples do when the sky lights up and a plane crashes from the sky. Reed Crowe doesn’t s
Craig Pittman
Sep 23, 2020 rated it it was ok
I have noticed that sometimes a book about Florida will receive rapturous reviews from people who do not live in Florida and yet fail to grab hold of readers who are residents of Florida. "Florida Man" by Tom Cooper is one of those books.

Its cover features raves from Kirkus and Publishers Weekly, but as someone who is from Florida and has lived here most of my life, I kept running across inaccuracies and anachronisms that made me roll my eyes and wish the author had a better editor.

Even the bas
Aug 04, 2020 rated it liked it
I went into “Florida Man” expecting something similar to novels written by some other well known Florida writers. They typically write about the bizarre and wacky residents of the state and the mad-cap and comical events that occur. While Tom Cooper has aspects of those elements in “Florida Man,” the comedy is a little darker and the story takes a sometimes serious and sobering look at life in a supposedly idyllic location.

Reed Crowe operates a sketchy motel and amusement park on Emerald Island;
Ryan Hixson
Aug 04, 2020 rated it liked it
Florida Man by Tom Cooper takes a look the mythos of the crazy stories surrounding the various news story dubbed "Florida man." This novel is awfully hilarious in it's character studies of Floridian rednecks, Cuban refugees, and American Indians. Most of the stories involve sex, drugs, violence, theft, and sometimes all four. The novel spans for the 1960's to present spending most of the time in the 1980's. The novel has it's problem but it is filled with so much charm, it's hard not to fill sat ...more
Dec 04, 2020 rated it really liked it
As I read Florida Man, my initial reaction was that the novel was a Carl Hiaasen wannabe, but Cooper develops his main character, the Florida man Reed Crowe, more fully and ultimately more poignantly than Hiaasen ever strives for. Crowe is a beach bum, living on an island off the gulf coast, haunted by the death of his young daughter, Otter, and pursued by both real and imagined terrors. The novel accompanies him through decades of stoned appreciation of sunsets, encounters with a cast of eccent ...more
Jul 22, 2020 rated it liked it
This book is a crazy ride through Florida with aging beach bum Reed Crowe. There is an assortment of quirky characters including drug dealers, a misanthrope, and Crowe's ex-wife who is still in and out of his life. In addition, there are sinkholes, an amusement park, and other odd locations. Spanning several generations, the novel certainly shows Florida at its craziest and is an interesting romp with many laughs.
Thanks to NetGalley for this ARC!
Buck Banks
A Disappointment

It's too bad Tom Cooper used "Florida Man" for his title. The phrase deserved a better treatment than this. From his overuse of "bracken" to incorrectly describe the native Florida underbrush to his totally laughable lack of understanding of the mechanics of sinkholes, Cooper demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of Florida.

The book does not have a plot per se, but meanders along through a picaresque assortment of barely related incidents. It's as if Cooper read a few Ca
Dec 02, 2020 rated it liked it
Florida Man wasn't a bad book. The characters were interesting and the writing was outright beautiful , and the going on's of this book was outlandish but in a good way. The only reason I gave this book 3 stars was because I felt like it didn't really have much of a plot. There are a lot of books like that, but this felt more like a series of short stories rather than one huge one. It seemed to ramble at times and it was cut into chapters that felt like unrelated stories or stories that did noth ...more
Kathleen Gray
Jul 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
When Reed and Heidi, two 17 year olds, find a huge cache of marijuana in a burning plane, they're convinced it's the best thing ever. Well now, years later, that find has come back to bite them. The thing is, things aren't so great for Reed. Heidi's left him to move to New York, his daughter died, and his business- the Florida Man amusement park and the Emerald Island Inn- are being encroached upon by the legendary Florida sinkhole. Worse, even after years, Catface Morales wants what he lost in ...more
Oct 08, 2020 rated it liked it
I lived in Florida. I grew up in Largo and lived in St. Pete. So, I’m very familiar with the state. I’ll have to say, the geography in the book was very confusing to say the least. I hate that.

Also...did you think no-one would notice you ripped off Swamplandia?

Something else bugged me about the time line: Correct me if I'm wrong, but I seem to remember Yahchilane being about 20 years older than Crowe. That kinda makes sense because Crowe had the hots for Yahchilane's daughter, Natasha. If this w
Aug 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Grew to like it. More violent than I had anticipated but overall satisfying. Gulf island/southwest Florida setting descriptions are spot on.
Shannon Sizensky
Sep 21, 2020 rated it it was ok
Book reads like a stalling car that revs up and dies repeatedly.
Alex Lyon
Aug 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Tom Cooper takes the phrase Florida Man and turns it upside down. Cooper uses the term as one of endearment and description instead of one of ridicule to describe the inhabitants of the town of Emerald City. Readers are introduced to Reed Crowe, a middle aged beach bum or in this case Florida Man, because he epitomizes the stereotypical Florida man and Henry Yahchilane, the other Florida man who is also Reed's unlikely friend. There are a myriad of minor characters that populate Cooper's story t ...more
Jim Thomsen
Oct 15, 2020 rated it liked it
Tom Cooper knows Florida's history and culture. He knows its flora and its fauna and its foibles as only a sharp-eye native who loves bis home state can. He knows how to write colorfully; in fact, FLORIDA MAN feels as much, if not more, as a prose poem than it does as a plotted novel, ful of rich telling details. But that lack of novelistic heft gets in the way, however, as the characters and the setting and the various tensions among them never really achieve liftoff as a story with rising stak ...more
Karen Germain
Sep 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Thank you to Random House Publishing Group for providing me with a copy of Tom Cooper’s novel Florida Man, in exchange for an honest review.

Spanning several decades, Florida Man is the story Reed Crowe and Henry Yahchilane, who form an unlikely friendship while living on a small island. Struggling from the loss of his child, affectionately nicknamed Otter, Crowe finds himself divorced and the proprietor of a struggling roadside attraction. Yahchilane, a Seminole native, and the older of the two
Oct 18, 2020 rated it it was ok
I kept thinking about Tiger King.

He's got nothing to do with Florida. Very little, at least. Tiger King, Joe Exotic, Joe Maldonado, whichever of his names you want to call him, isn't even from Florida. He was born in Kansas, raised in Texas, and lived most of his life in Oklahoma. At least most of the life you see in the Tiger King series. For some reason, maybe because much of the documentary is also centered around Floridian Carol Baskin, I associate Tiger King Joe Exotic with Florida.

So I was
Apr 25, 2020 marked it as to-read
PW Starred: "Beach bums, wack jobs, and refugees populate Cooper’s Technicolor vision of 1980s Florida in this darkly entertaining tale (after The Marauders) set on fictional Emerald Island on the Gulf Coast. Reed Crowe has a secret, but no idea how dangerous it will prove. Two decades earlier, at 17, Reed and his soon-to-be wife, Heidi, witnessed a plane crash and found a shipment of marijuana in the burning wreckage. “This is going to change our life,” Reed says. Now, proprietor of a cheesy to ...more
Jo Dervan
Jul 21, 2020 rated it liked it
The book begins in the 1980s on a remote island in the Everglades. Reed Crowe, the main character, is a teen beach bum and fixture on Emerald Island. Reed and his girlfriend, Heidi, observe a plane crash and the fire that ensues. He assumed that all the passengers had died and rescued a large amount of drugs.
As the story continues we see Reed as an adult who owns a rundown motel and a sketchy roadside attraction. Heidi, is now his ex wife and a successful artist. He is still mourning the death
Oct 04, 2020 rated it liked it
This is a hard one to describe. Basically it's the life story of Reed Crowe, the eponymous Florida Man, born and raised in a less industrialized corner of Florida. A middle-aged beach bum, beleaguered and disenfranchised, running two seedy businesses—a rundown motel and a shabby tourist trap amusement park—expending as little effort as possible.

It's a melancholic story, sometimes thoughtful, often rambling, about how Crowe both lives and wastes his life the way he chooses. A variety of people st
James Spinella
Dec 07, 2020 rated it really liked it
Tom Cooper's second novel was a brilliant read. I had very high expectations after reading "The Marauders". I am pleased to report that "Florida Man" did not disappoint. Yet, it was a very different different novel. The reader is pulled deeply into the mind and heart of the protagonist, Reed Crowe and comes to sympathize with him on a deep level. Although he best fits the archetype of "anti-hero", the reader cannot help but root for him. The novel is also filled with many other memorable charact ...more
Trevor Smith
Jan 25, 2021 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Mar 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
Move over Carl Hiaasen, Tom Cooper has arrived. Great story dedicated to the residents of Emerald Island, Florida that describes "old Florida" living. You get to meet all the long term residents or "old conches" and learn how they interact with each other. The main character, Reed Crowe, is a teenager in love at the beginning of the book. Who becomes a kind of aimless, ambitionless beach bum.

If you've read other reviews I've written about books I've read you know by now I love a book that is cha
Daphne Manning
Apr 09, 2020 rated it it was ok
Writers of Florida fiction has a love of this state complete with its caves and characters. Crowe the central character in this long ramble of a could be a love story as only Florida could birth. He’s a man always scratching out a living with what luck and perseverance have provided. Heidi is his in and out love, who for some reason can’t quite leave him alone. There’s a Native American who offers wisdom and insight into their everyday challenges. It is a get rich quick scheme that starts this l ...more
Jul 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This was easy to read and enjoyable. The writing flowed naturally and the characters were interesting. Sure there were some uncomfortable story lines but reading is not always about staying within your comfort zone.

Reed Crowe was entertaining, and his relationships (if you can call them that) made for good plot points. Setting the book in the 80s/90s worked out well.

Distracting and engrossing, just what I needed during this pandemic.

My copy was provided by NetGalley for review, all opinions are
Feb 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
This book is sad and strange and funny and lovely. Florida Man is kind of a cheap joke - but there's depth behind that joke. This is the epic and tiny story of one Florida Man and all the tragedy, joy, wonder and misery that makes up his life. Be forewarned - there's a fair amount of violence and some truly disgusting characters. It's not easy to tell who the good guys are in this one, but that makes it all the more real. I don't love the staccato writing style that this book is written in, but ...more
Cynthia Moore
Apr 01, 2020 rated it liked it
I was expecting something different. I guess I thought the book would be more of a zany adventure that took place within a short period of time. This was actually over the whole span of this man's life and felt like less of a mystery/thriller than a retrospective. It was interesting from a historical look back at Old Florida, but it felt too remote like you were just skimming to get it all in. While there was some conflict in there it just wasn't the mapcap adventure I was looking for. ...more
May 05, 2020 rated it liked it
This book had a lot of un-lived up to potential Cooper can really write an I liked his first book but this one just didn’t seem to focus. Meandered around and tried to be more literary than necessary. Cooper should have kept to a more linear plot line. He has the potential to be a great Florida novelist but needs to be more grounded in plot than showing his writing chops( which are considerable.).
Oct 19, 2020 added it
I read this book because of the title; I am a long-time fan of "The Florida Man" memes (outrageous yet real news headlines featuring "Florida Man"). Worry not: that is not my typical criteria for book selection. I'm not hugely disappointed with the novel, but no rave review, either. I found the storytelling disjointed. And, it was weird to save all the environmental/climate change story points until the very end of the story (which was told chronologically). ...more
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Tom Cooper was born in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, and now lives in New Orleans. His short stories have appeared in Oxford American, Mid-American Review, and Gulf Coast, among many others. Random House/Crown published his first novel, The Marauders, in 2015. He is at work on several new projects, including television scripts and novels.

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