Thursday Bookshelf : Dream State

I get very self conscious when people make fun of Florida – the exception to that general rule of mine is when Floridians especially those from long-time Florida families mock our state. Diane Roberts formerly of the St Pete Times, FSU Professor and longtime NPR commentator. Roberts family has lived in Florida since the 18th Century before it was part of the United States, making her the most native of natives.

Roberts book Dream State, which I read soon after it was released about a decade ago is an amusing set of short  largely autobiographical stories about living in the Sunshine State. The book is filled with the type of nostalgia that so many of us who love this state and have spent time reading about its history adore. Her narrative educates non-natives about Florida’s identity crisis and those looking at us from the outside about why we are so peculiar and eccentric compared to the rest of the country.

Roberts accounts of her hometown of Tallahassee and of legislators connected with me as reader, since many of the stories and personalities she related were people I knew or were familiar with. Her stories about Miami in the book also vivid and remind me of growing up in South Florida. Her outstanding narratives about the Seminole Wars and Civil War are written in such a way that they could only be told from the perspective of a true intellectual and a Floridian.

The book finishes with the 2000 recount which was a painful experience for me personally as I was right in the middle of it. Through the years I have avoided watching documentaries of films about the recount or reading about it, but Roberts account did make me laugh. Further enhancing her account, Clay Roberts her relative was the head of the Division of Elections during the recount debacle.

It is possible that people from outside Florida will not find this book as entertaining as I did. The reality is that I have read it multiple times and enjoy it each and every time I pick it. The book may not be everyone’s cup of tea but if you love Florida, it certainly will be yours.

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