Friday, August 5, 2011

Dispatches from the Land of Flowers

Once again, I am drawn to the works of Jeff Klinkenberg: runner, writer, and Floridian.
I took my time with Dispatches, knowing that it was the final unread Klinkenberg on my shelf. No matter how much I wanted to, I was determined not to curl up on the bench on my raised front porch to read it in a day. I would make it last at least a handful of sittings.

Although the book was published in 1996 and the writings are from the early 1990s, the collection felt just as captivating as Pilgrim and Seasons.  The dates are important to nonfiction writing and make me think about these people and moments that may already be gone.

Klinkenberg organizes his writings by season, clearly influencing his Seasons of Real Florida.  I loved this pattern, and was pleasantly surprised to see it here.  It works wonderfully.  The broad range of topics fits seamlessly into the 268 pages.  Here are a few topics to look forward to: Cross Creek oranges, Stalking the ghost orchid, A Haunted house, with egg salad, and Bad memories of a deadly blow.

Jeff's writing is top-notch and feels like a conversation with a good friend.  He captures the nature of the people he interviews in his prose.  Klinkenberg clearly knows the land, the culture, and the importance of this state and presents his knowledge in a way to be appreciated by all.  I look to no one else, besides Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, when I long to hear tales of my home.

My only complaint is over the cover and illustrations.  I do not think the imagery captures the Florida Klinkenberg so beautifully narrates.  Florida may be the Land of Flowers, but Klinkenberg proves it is not about white picket fences and pruned flowering shrubbery.  Pick up this collection to learn about the Bone Man, a lightning stalker, right wales, and a young historian.  You won't be disappointed.

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