Floridian literature provides us with some evidence that the state’s aggressive setting takes an occasional youth back as a tax, like a spiteful Old Testament god, haunting every scrub habitat, clear-cut forest, abandoned development site, or drained swamp.
By switching back and forth between epistolary writing, imagined scenes, memoir, and journalism, Gerard shows her range of skills and voice while keeping her story contained to one location—Pinellas County, Florida, where Gerard grew up, and dips in and out of in her adulthood.
Central Florida, sticky with humidity and restless with sea breeze, inspires the temperature of Hurston’s fiction and, in turn, the temperament of her characters. In her 1926 short story “Sweat,” Hurston chronicles the marriage of Delia, a washerwoman, and her unemployed, abusive husband Sykes.
It’s winter here in Iowa, which makes my Floridian self wish for seasonal time travel. Unfortunately, the closest I’ve come to realizing this dream is watching Back to the Future and reading H.G. Wells’s The Time Machine.