Florida LitLife | January Edition

January 26, 2017 by DAVID MORRIS | LITERATURE
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In national literary news, we, of course, have the announcement of nominees for the National Book Critics Circle Awards, which tapped the likes of Michael Chabon, Louise Erdrich, and Jane Mayer.

Closer to home, though, the last few weeks have been full of a resolutely Floridian mix of the weird and beautiful. We can’t neglect the attention national media paid to two Lake County librarians who invented a fake borrower to keep books from being culled from their collection. Debate has raged over whether it was a noble act of book preservation, or plain old fraud.

In Pinellas, it has been confirmed that this year’s SunLit Festival will run from April 10-23, and will be under new management. The literary festival was previously produced by the St. Pete Arts Alliance, and affiliated with the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair. It will now be directly overseen by the nonprofit Keep St. Pete Lit, who are working hard to expand the festival’s schedule, which is still forthcoming.

Another nearby book festival of note is Fort Myers’ Reading Festival on March 18, which has already begun to announce its lineup of authors. So far, that includes names like James Grippando, Holly Brown, and Greg Hurwitz.

I wanted to highlight two notable books this month. First up is Tim Dorsey’s Clownfish Blues, which was recently highlighted by the Tampa Bay Times. It’s a very unusual take on the Florida beach read, a lighthearted road trip-quest undertaken by a Florida history buff who also happens to be a remorseless serial killer. Dorsey is in the midst of a series of signings and readings around the state, including one at Haslam’s in St. Pete on January 28th.

Cathy Salustri

Then there’s Cathy Salustri’s Backroads of Paradise: A Journey to Rediscover Old Florida, which came out last October with University Press of Florida.  Salustri, now arts editor for Creative Loafing Tampa, spent years crafting the work, which takes readers to some of the less renowned corners of the Sunshine State.

Finally, for the aspiring young J.K. Rowlings out there, the Tampa Bay Times is running a Fantasy Writing Contest for regional high schoolers. The contest, to be judged by local professional writers, offers a cash prize and publication in the Times. Submissions have just opened, and the final deadline is March 31.

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