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Frothy. Cultureless. A swampy morass of misery and boredom. Criminally insane. That's what the snarky blog Gawker has to say about our state. Conan makes jokes. Fark pokes fun. Sometimes it feels like everybody everywhere searches the Sunshine for the bloggable, tweetable, linkable bizarre. They miss the point. They act like it's the only place with a pill problem. Like it's the only place with the dumb and the desperate who end up in laughed-at mug shots. Like it's the only place with cul-de-sacs with neighbors who don't know each other's names. Like it's the only place where people used to have jobs and keep them and pay their rent and feed their kids and now no longer can. Like it's the only place where people said yes to buying a house because everybody else said yes, too, and who since have been asked to please leave.

What happens in Florida is that all of what is up there somehow ends up down here, and so it's the most interstate, real estate, dredge-and-fill, boom-and-bust hothouse manifestation of the lying, climate-controlled moment when everybody in this country thought they could have it all, forever and ever. Florida is not some funhouse mirror. It is a vivid reflection. To mock is too easy. Here, then, from people who know Florida, voices from the Times and elsewhere, in original essays and images coupled with emails, tweets and all-time great excerpts, is a different way of assessing America's most fascinating state.

Michael Kruse, Staff Writer

[Illustration: University Press of Florida]

The Essays
  • Growing up Floridian:
    A gulf in time | John Woodrow Cox
    Sting of memory | Drew Harwell
    The debris of youth | Alexandra Zayas
    Storm seasons | Craig Pittman
    On Flamingo Road | Colette Bancroft
    Fathers know best | Jeff Klinkenberg

Real Florida: Stories and insights on living life in Florida

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