Carl Hiaasen sneers at Orlando, making it the butt of his Florida-bashing jokes. My model train club (based on Orlando) models Jacksonville (since it’s railroad-sexier).
Orlando is a sprawling, simmering, distracted city. To those who use it for nothing more than the home-work drive, it’s little more than a blur beyond the I-4 guardrail. But I’ve lived here for thirty years, bicycled its streets, explored it from end to end. And when I heard about this collection of short stories punch-pinned across the city’s map, I had to check it out.
In this collection, fifteen local authors have a go linking a loose set of characters across many of the city’s lessor-known locals. The Booby Hatch. Will’s Pub. The Parliament House. Wekiva Springs. They all show up in various forms and aspects. And across it all, the shared characters sweat, hope, dream, and dodge sunscreen-slick tourists as they get along with their literary lives.
These stories showed a great deal of talent; it was sharp writing by writers who strive to make the most of every word in their tight stories. I found myself smiling and nodding at the prose and how they captured moments and locales. I’ve been to most of these places and can say they nailed them dead on.
After the stories, there are some interviews with a number of literary personages from Orlando but I didn’t know what to make about this. I browsed through the sets and found a clever observation or two, but really, I think there was too much of that and two little of the cutting edge writing you can find in smaller publishing houses. It almost felt as if they got their book figured out, took a look at the finished draft, and though, “Good crap, that’s kinda thin. We need some filler.” Sorry, but I’m more interested in storytelling, not storytelling-telling, you know?
Anyway, I recommend it. If you’d like a copy, check out Burrow Press HERE.