Hit Picks of Miami Lit

In which local authors and aficionados list their favorites

An irreverent novel which gives Florida back to the Floridians, capturing the intrinsic wildness of spirit, humor, and creativity that flavor this town.

5. Miami U.S.A. by Helen Muir

I don't generally read history books, but a friend gave us a copy of this as a housewarming present and it's become an invaluable guide, charting the inspiration and development of our "dream city."

Howard Kleinberg

Author of Miami: The Way We Were and Miami Beach: A History1. Historical Sketches and Sidelights of Miami, Florida by Isidor Cohen

My favorite book about Miami is an oldie, a 1925 volume on the shelves of some local libraries and antiquarian bookstores (and at my house). For its time, it's quite anecdotal and humorous while still telling of our early history. An excerpt from when Cohen first arrived in Miami in February 1896 and tried to obtain some land from Julia Tuttle to open a dry-goods store: "Result very disappointing. Must wait until land is cleared and streets laid out, when lots will be put on sale. On declaring that I could not wait, owing to my destitute condition, I was told to take a job clearing land, whereupon I tried to impress this naive lady that the last labor of this character my race had performed was in the land of Egypt, and that it would be a violation of my religious convictions to resume that condition of servitude."

2. The Corpse Had a Familiar Faceby Edna Buchanan

3. Miami: City of the Futureby T.D. Allman

4. Miami: The Magic City by Arva Moore Parks

5. Miami Blues by Charles Willeford

Juan Manuel Salvat

Owner of Ediciones Universal press and bookstore1. Cuba from Columbus to Castro and Beyondby Jaime Suchlicki

2. Cuban Art and Identity: The Vanguardia Painters 1927-1950 by Juan A. Martínez

3. Cuba for Kids: An Illustrated History Book by Ismael Roque-Velasco

4. Reflections on Cuba and Its Futureby Luis Aguilar Len

5. The Cubans of Miami: Language and Society by Humberto Lpez Morales

Alejandro Rios

Miami Book Fair International co-organizer1. Mírala Antes de Morirby Santiago Rodriguez

I chose some books that paint a picture of Miami's darker side. We recently learned from the newspapers about a police officer who was having sex with a minor in a little Eighth Street motel, and you can find a lot of that tone in Rodriguez's novels. In fact his most recent book begins with that very story.

2. La Vida en Pedazos by Santiago Rodriguez

3. Boarding Home by Guillermo Rosales

A micro-hell of exile and the Cuban dictatorship.

4. Vicio de Miami by Néstor Díaz de Villegas Brilliant renditions of outsiders in Miami.

5. Ciudad Mágica by Esteban Luis Cárdenas

He's had a terrible accident since arriving in Miami, yet still writes with as much love as despair.

6. Little Havana Memorial Park by Leandro Eduardo Campa

A homeless writer who's since disappeared, the characters in this book are simply unforgettable -- as is the author himself.

Dave Barry

Author of Boogers Are My Beat: More Lies, but Some Actual Journalismand Babies and Other Hazards of Sex: How To Make a Tiny Person in Only Nine Months with Tools You Probably Have Around the Home1. Pretty much anything by John D. MacDonald

I know they're set mainly in Fort Lauderdale, but hey, they're great books.

2. Tourist Season by Carl Hiaasen

3. Pretty much anything by Elmore Leonard involving Miami

4. The Commodore's Story: The Early Days on Biscayne Bay by Ralph Middleton Munroe and Vincent Gilpin

James Grippando

Author of Last To Dieand Beyond Suspicion1. Killing Mister Watson by Peter Matthiessen

Another Matthiessen masterpiece, a lyrical and somewhat factual account of the ritualized murder of a real-life entrepreneur in the Florida Everglades a hundred years ago. Matthiessen captures the spirit of an era when the rule of law was: "Suspect everyone, trust no one." In Miami some things never change.

2. The Silence of the Lambs by Thomas Harris

Many people don't realize that the man who wrote the mother of all serial-killer novels is a Miami resident. But hey, if you wrote what he wrote, would you want people knowing where you live?

3. Rum Punch by Elmore Leonard

You've seen the movie (it became Jackie Brown), now read the book. If you're an aspiring writer, Leonard is like a primer on great dialogue.

4. In the Heat of the Summer by John Katzenbach

It became The Mean Season, but the title was the only thing about the film that was better than the book.

5. The Deep Blue Good-by by John D. MacDonald

Everyone from Stephen King to Sue Grafton sings the praises of John D. MacDonald. The first in the classic Travis McGee series, and a good look at Miami in the 1960s.

6. The Paperboy by Pete Dexter

This complex tale involving a Miami reporter investigating a murder is a great way to discover this award-winning novelist. At the very least you'll know what to do with urine if ever you're stung by jellyfish.

7. Continental Drift by Russell Banks

Even if you have no idea what it's like to be Haitian in Miami, this is a powerful story of haves and have-nots.

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