Seasons of Real Florida
Jeff KlinkenbergForeword by Raymond Arsenault and Gary Mormino, Series Editors
"What is raw, alive, and essential about Florida is becoming more difficult to find, true; but it's still possible to encounter it, to experience it, and a good place to start is any story or book by Jeff Klinkenberg. . . . Jeff loves Florida. It shows."--Randy Wayne White, author of Shark River and Everglades
"Klinkenberg is a genius reporter and a wonderful writer. I read this book in one gulp, then went outside, looked at that magnificent Florida sky and made myself all sorts of promises."--William McKeen, author of Highway 61: A Father-and-Son Journey through the Middle of America
No wonder Jeff Klinkenberg loves Florida. At any time of year he can find a place in the state that's ripe to enjoy or a person whose story has aged to perfection.
Arranged by season, the book opens in the fall, which Klinkenberg says is like spring in the north--a time of celebration: "Having survived our harshest season, we feel renewed." Fair weather, good food, and the joys of nature lie ahead, described here in essays that are like time capsules of "old Florida values." Preserving the past, they reveal Klinkenberg's waggish appreciation of the state's history, folkways, and landscape, not to mention its barbequed ribs, smoked mullet, stone crab claws, and fresh lemonade.
Many pieces focus off the beaten path and on modern rogues who seem to turn their backsides to the subdivisions and shopping malls that pave the state: Miss Ruby, whose fruit stand features rutabagas, boiled peanuts, and her own brightly colored plywood paintings; an 85-year-old resident of the remote island of Cayo Costa who hums Beethoven while she hunts for shells; the scientists who test mosquito repellent in Everglades National Park; and the unofficial caretaker of Lilly Spring on the Santa Fe River, who greets canoeists wearing glasses, a necklace, and on occasion a synthetic fur loincloth. Other pieces pay homage to Klinkenberg's literary heroes who've written in and about Florida, such as Pulitzer Prize-winner Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, Rawlings's companion and memoirist Idella Parker, Everglades crusader Marjory Stoneman Douglas, and novelist Ernest Hemingway. Klinkenberg also revisits an old St. Johns River campsite of 19th-century botanist William Bartram, whose encounters with alligators there were as alarming as Klinkenberg's with beer cans and soda bottles.
For anyone who has a stake in the real Florida--resident, tourist, naturalist, or newcomer--this tour of the seasons will linger in memory like the aroma of orange blossoms on a clear winter night.
Jeff Klinkenberg wrote for the Tampa Bay Times from 1977 to 2014. He is the winner of the Florida Humanities Council 2018 Florida Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing; a two-time winner of the Paul Hansell Distinguished Journalism Award, the highest honor given by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors; and a recipient of a 2018 Florida Folk Heritage Award. He is the author of Alligators in B-Flat: Improbable Tales from the Files of Real Florida; Pilgrim in the Land of Alligators: More Stories about Real Florida; and Seasons of Real Florida.
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"This collection of close to 50 examples of real life from the Keys to the Panhandle gives the readers a jumping-off point to find their own path."
"A skilled writer, he knows when to listen and when to nudge each short story along."
"…the vignette structure allows for quick and easy reading-"
"gives readers a jumping-off point to find their own path."
"What Klinkenberg calls the real Florida is a state on the verge of extinction."
--St Petersburg Times
"Gives the flavor of this diverse state and of some of the characters who have made it distinctive. It's a good read and an informative one at the same time."
"Klinkenberg uncovers the beauty and mystery of his home state."
"Set far away from tourist spots, the book explores American Indian landmarks, swamplands, and bear and alligator territory. Each story conveys the authentic character of the state…"
"Klinkenberg explores what's left of the Florida that existed before it was invaded by Disney and developers. He finds interesting characters--and gets them to tell fascinating stories."
"His beautifully crafted sentences--this is not mere journalism--astutely evoke people and places."
--Tribune & Times (Tampa)
"Klinkenberg seems to live in a world that eludes the rest of us..."
"He writes about the kind of Florida characters that we never even knew existed."
"Reading this collection of essays reminds you of hopping in the back of a friend's truck for a ride. But this one takes you beyond the sunny skies and high-rises and into the past."
"Klinkenberg writes in an easy, genteel style."
"A glimpse of people who have loved and live in Florida. This is a five star book."
--Winter Haven News Chief
"These 47 vignettes will inspire you 'to get out and discover Real Florida on your own'."
Other Jeff Klinkenberg BooksSon of Real Florida: Stories from My Life
The Shark Attack Files: Investigating the World's Most Feared Predator
The Wind Engineers: Building a Hurricane-Safe House
Building a Better Tomato: The Quest to Perfect "The Scandalous Fruit"
Pilgrim in the Land of Alligators: More Stories about Real Florida
Alligators in B-Flat: Improbable Tales from the Files of Real Florida