Books

The Ten Best Florida Novels: Freaks, Pioneers, Retirees, Hurricanes

Representative Allen West. Governor Rick Scott. Real Housewives skin assemblage Elsa Patton. Florida has long had a rough go of things when it comes to being represented to the world.

But we've always had a fairly rich literary tradition -- even if much of it has been tattooed across our felons' necks -- which makes it sting a bit to see To Have and Have Not by Ernest Hemingway (that hack!) selected as "The Most Famous Book Set in Florida." Hemingway and Florida deserve better.

The distinction was made by The Business Insider, a financial news aggregator run by a guy banned from the securities industry after being charged with fraud. The site took a break from linking to "Awesome Pictures of the US Navy Through History" and "Highly Successful People with Bizarre Eating Habits" in order to provide a literary map of the US in which each state is represented its "Most Famous Book," seemingly the results of a five-minutes-before-class free association exercise. Pity poor Washington, which at least dodges Fifty Shades of Grey by having Twilight sparkle its way into the state's spot.

The trouble is that "most famous" is no way to represent anything, otherwise the UN Security Council's permanent seats would be occupied by France, China, Chris Brown, Scott Disick, and Miley Cyrus's tongue. Here are 10 books set in Florida that represent us way better than a second-tier self-derided Hemingway book written "for the money," (or so Hemingway told Howard Hawks, whose way-different film version is actually the famous thing that people remember).

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B. Caplan