Florida: the south of the south, swampland and jungle, sandy sinkholes and the always impending doom of the next big one making landfall. Cooper’s book is a little like Tom Robbins decided to take on the panhandle, a generational saga of a roadside attraction running, swamp tour giving loser who, come murderous hell or hurricane, is never leaving the beach. It’s a crime novel inasmuch as, yes, crimes occur, but that’s just because crimes petty and heinous are simply a part of the everyday milieu of your average Florida man. What is it really? Some sort of magic trick. A dark comedy that starts off rip roaring funny then takes you through decades of a man’s uniquely American life, one locked to the land by a history he’s trying to erase, until you can’t help but feel like kin to this Florida Man.— Chris Lee
The southwest Florida coast screams weirdness like few other places in America. And here is where Tom Cooper has brought to life a handful of locals, a few rescued immigrants, and an over-the-top crazed assassin who has legitimate business to carry out in the neighborhood. I had to scream at the main character several times before he finally fell in line. Florida Man is an escape, one of the highest and lowest caliber that I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing in the past year or two. Take a vacation with Florida Man. Lifetime memories pretty much guaranteed.— Kay Wosewick
“A riotous journey into the heart of insanity also known as the State of Florida. Bravo!”—Gary Shteyngart, author of Lake Success
Florida, circa 1980. Reed Crowe, the eponymous Florida Man, is a middle-aged beach bum, beleaguered and disenfranchised, living on ill-gotten gains deep in the jungly heart of Florida. When sinkholes start opening on Emerald Island, not only are Reed Crowe's seedy businesses—a moribund motel and a shabby amusement park—endangered, but so are his secrets. Crowe, amateur spelunker, begins uncovering artifacts that change his understanding of the island’s history, as well as his understanding of his family’s birthright as pioneering homesteaders.
Meanwhile, there are other Florida men with whom Crowe must contend. Hector “Catface” Morales, a Cuban refugee, trained assassin, and crack-addicted Marielito, is seeking revenge on Reed for stealing his stash of drugs and leaving him for dead (unbeknownst to Reed) in the wreckage of a plane crash in the Everglades decades ago. Loner and misanthrope Henry Yahchilane, a Seminole native, has something to hide on the island. So does irascible and pervy Wayne Wade, Reed Crowe’s childhood friend turned bad penny. Then there are the Florida women, including Heidi Karavas, Reed Crowe’s ex-wife, now a globe-trekking art curator, and Nina Arango, a Cuban refugee and fiercely protective woman with whom Reed Crowe falls in love. There are curses. There are sea monsters. There are biblical storms. There’s something called the Jupiter Effect.
Ultimately, Florida Man is a generation-spanning story about how a man decides to live his life, and how despite staying landlocked and stubbornly in one place, the world nevertheless comes to him.
About the Author
Tom Cooper has been published in dozens of literary magazines and journals, most recently in Oxford American, Mid-American Review, Gulf Coast, Boulevard, and Willow Springs. He is the author of The Marauders, his first novel, and his stories have been nominated four times for the Pushcart Prize. He lives in New Orleans.
“This is the kind of book I’m desperate to read right now. Bravo!”—Gary Shteyngart, author of Lake Success
“There are few words that will do Florida Man justice, but to try: Ribald. Audacious. Terrifying. Florida Man is Cooper's singular, hallucinatory expression of deep American weirdness, a thing enjoyed and then survived, like a tangerine sunset overtaken by a purple hurricane. Hang in, people.”—Smith Henderson, author of Fourth of July Creek
“Cooper made a memorable debut with The Marauders. This second act delivers an even messier, nastier, more brutal, and engaging yarn that spans decades on a remote outpost deep in the wilds of Florida. . . . In this fascinating decades-long trek, we follow perpetually stoned Reed Crowe and his nearly endless run of bad luck. . . . Add a few biblical hurricanes, the occasional sea monster, and Jimmy Buffet and stir. This cocktail's recipe would be one part Travis McGee, one part Carl Hiaasen, and a salt shaker full of magical realism.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Darkly entertaining . . . Throughout, Cooper’s macabre and brutal universe crackles with energy and wit, and will hold readers’ attention until the very end. Cooper’s riotous, riveting tale rivals the best of Don Winslow.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)