If you live in Miami long enough, chances are you have a Miami story. At this year’s Miami Book Fair, there’s no shortage of intriguing tales from authors who’ve documented the highs and lows of the Magic City. New Times has handpicked a shortlist of page-turners uncovering secret haunts, seafront vistas, ventanitas, best buys, and wildlife adventures — all to remind you there’s no place like home.
1. Luis Garcia. The tales in Luis Garcia's unflinching story collection, Missing, include dolphins, necrophilia, a drug overdose, and a Wynwood Halloween party that ends with a crossbow. Miami-born-and-raised Garcia, a former student of fine art at Florida International University and an ex-convict, spares no lurid details in his musings on love, memory, and death. Garcia says he noticed Miami changed while he was serving a ten-year prison sentence. “I had changed, but at the same time had not... I take Miami wherever I go. Miami is hot and sticky... Stay here long enough, and it sticks.” Appearing at Jitney Books: A Micro-Press Story, 5 p.m. Sunday, November 19, in room 8202.
2. Jen Karetnick. An abundance of Miami-area gems, including the best water views, coolest hotel pools, hottest designers, and best urban wildlife, is illuminated in The 500 Hidden Secrets of Miami. Part insider’s guide, part poetic travelogue, the book includes off-the-radar sights, deals, and haunts for Miami locals and visitors. Written by journalist, poet, and educator Jen Karetnick and dreamily shot by South Florida photographer Valerie Sands, this addition to the Belgian-based Luster series of guidebooks is a keeper. Says Karetnick: “Such unique ecosystems and habitats, which aren't found anywhere else in the world, make something like a traffic jam seem trivial in comparison.” Appearing at the Sunshine State, 11 a.m. Sunday, November 19, in room 7128.
3. Jacob Katel. In Cuban Coffee Windows of Miami, Jacob Katel's love letter to Miami’s café cubano culture, photo essays transport the viewer from Calle Ochoc to South Beach to the Everglades, documenting and interviewing the steamy heroes of espresso culture. Katel, a Miami writer, artist, photographer, moviemaker, media freelancer, and former New Times contributor and staffer, says that while photographing the book, he discovered that the longest-running ventanita in Miami-Dade might be the Oasis Café on Key Biscayne. And though you may have already found your favorite “little window,” this book will make your next cafecito that much sweeter. Appearing at Music of the Sunshine State, 3 p.m. Sunday, November 19, in room 7128.
4. Tim Schmand. Populated by an eccentric cast of Miami characters, Tim Schmand’s new novel, Just Johnson: The London Delivery, delivers plenty of topical political intrigue. While in London, the eponymous protagonist, a Miami delivery man for an obese criminal mastermind who manages the remains of crime boss Meyer Lansky’s Miami beach operation, finds that his hotel has been rigged by a former Soviet Union spy seeking compromising material. A winner of the 1999 Calvino Prize for Short Fiction, Schmand has been publishing his Miami observations since the early 1980s. Appearing at Jitney Books: A Micro-Press Story, 5 p.m. Sunday, November 19, in room 8202.
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5. Simone Kelly. Suspense, intuition, hot Miami nights, and strong, stiletto-heeled women keep the pages turning in Simone Kelly’s debut novel, Like a Fly on the Wall. “I loved writing about the melting pot of cultures that I've experienced while living here for the last 12 years,” says Kelly, a Bronx native, internet radio host, life coach, and promotional entrepreneur, who worked in entertainment before becoming a scribe. In what might be the first of a series, Moroccan-born Jacques Berradi, an “intuitive counselor,” teams up with Kylie Collins, an adventuresome Miami girl ready for a career change and maybe some love. Clear the decks for a nonstop read. Appearing at Florida Mysteries and Thrillers, 3 p.m. Sunday, November 19, at room 8302.
Miami Book Fair. Through November 19 at Miami Dade College Wolfson Campus, 300 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-237-3258; miamibookfair.com. Ticket prices vary by event.