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A collection of adoring if overenthusiastic portraits of some less-than, stunning Florida phenomena, including Cypress Gardens, Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation, and the state's annual alligator hunt--by a free-lance journalist transplanted to the Sunbelt from chilly England. Cart's utter fascination with the Cypress Garden Aquamaids seems disproportional to the subject as he projects his vision of America's characteristic vitality, optimism, and can-do spirit onto a gaggle of girl skiers just trying to make a living. His sentimental tribute to the disappearing Florida crackers comes through with all the gawking superficiality of a tourist's diary, and his tumbles into literary self-indulgence (an ecologically unsound dumpsite is ""a single horridly infected nipple on an otherwise healthy, quite comely, Mother Earthly mammalian system"") are embarrassing. Carr is certainly no Hunter Thompson, and his insights, when there are any, are hardly profound. On the other hand, he is capable of giving relatively straight-faced and valuable analyses of two Florida cities--Tampa and Miami--that win the reader over with their unsentimental appreciation of how big cities operate in good-ole-boy land. These two lengthy pieces--one centering on environmental issues, the other on drugs--stand out in high contrast against all the other silliness, and almost save the book. The urban essays aside, precious little substance buried beneath too much hype. For a far more vivid taste of Florida, turn to its fiction--e.g., the novels of James W. Hall or Carl Hiaasen.

Pub Date: Jan. 26th, 1989
Publisher: Doubleday