Compendium of Florida facts and follies links the loony, lousy and laughable

Oh, Florida! How America’s Weirdest State Influences the Rest of the Country, by Craig Pittman. St. Martin’s Press. 336 pages. Hardcover $26.99.

Already a New York Times best-seller, this book belongs in every Florida home. No, it’s not a hurricane survival guide, rather it’s a rambling encyclopedia of Florida freakiness. It reminds us of what we have been surviving while warning others to enter at their own risk. Craig Pittman is the literary entrepreneur of what’s odd – and yet often trendsetting – about our populous state with the seemingly endless coastline. It’s local color with a laugh and a blush.  ohflorida

Mr. Pittman presents his learning, lore, and laughs in eighteen friendly chapters, perhaps to make us think we are strolling along on a Florida golf course. Having established a central focus for each chapter, he generally stays in bounds even while addressing Florida hazards. Every now and then, Craig Pittman does need to take an extra stroke penalty.

There’s something called “school of beauties” criticism, not very well respected, in which the critic simply oohs and aahs and quotes passages. I’m tempted to go there, but then I wouldn’t know how or when to stop. Readers will find their own favorite passages in this delightful romp. So, here are some of the themes and categories:

Florida is, and has been forever, a land of hucksters. Think swampland, think Cape Coral, think rum-running, think of a rainy, often overcast state that named itself the Sunshine State.

Craig Pittman - Photo byCherie Diez

Craig Pittman – Photo by Cherie Diez

Florida is a land of “surface flash” that leads people to overlook truly interesting architecture. Why stand gaga in front of Cinderella’s Castle when you can find ten Frank Lloyd Wright buildings on the Lakeland campus of Florida Southern College?

Florida is the land of mermaids and manatees, alligators and armadillos. That’s enough freakiness for one state. But we have more. . . .

To read the full review, as it appears in the October 5, 2016 Fort Myers Florida Weekly and the October 6 Naples, Bonita Springs, Punta Gorda / Port Charlotte, and Palm Beach Gardens / Jupiter editions, click here: Florida Weekly – Pittman

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