History Center Book Group: “Son of Real Florida” by Jeff Klinkenberg
10:00 AM – 11:30 AM EST
Tampa Bay History Center
801 Old Water St.
Tampa, FL 33602
Son of Real Florida by Jeff Klinkenberg; Reviewed by Sam & Valerie Mallis
About Son of Real Florida from University Press of Florida:
As stories about “Florida Man” inspire wild headlines in the news, Florida’s most beloved chronicler is here to show that the state is more than the stereotypes. Award-winning journalist Jeff Klinkenberg has explored what makes Florida unique for nearly half a century, and Son of Real Florida is a compelling retrospective of essays on the state he knows so well.
Klinkenberg recounts what it was like to grow up in pre-air conditioning Florida and how he became a newspaper reporter in mid-century Miami. He introduces us to the stout-hearted folks who have learned to live and even prosper among the insects, sharptoothed critters, and serious heat. We meet beekeeper Harold P. Curtis and his prized orange blossom honey; frog whisperer Avalon Theisen; Sheepshead George of St. Petersburg; and Miss Martha, the oyster-shucking queen of Apalachicola.
Klinkenberg also takes us to some of the most interesting, little-known places in the state. We travel to Solomon’s Castle of reclaimed materials, the neighborhood of “Rattlesnake, Florida,” and the smallest post office in the United States. Along the way, he stops to impart true Florida wisdom, from how to eat a Key lime pie to which writers and artists every Floridian should know.
In this heartfelt tribute, Klinkenberg portrays Florida’s people, places, food, and culture with a deep understanding that does not relegate them to cliché. He writes with warmth and authenticity of a state he still sees as wondrous in its own ways. Though some may think the real Florida is a thing of the past, he says, “Do not tell me Florida is no longer a paradise.”
Jeff Klinkenberg wrote for the Tampa Bay Times from 1977 to 2014. He is the winner of the Florida Humanities Council 2018 Florida Lifetime Achievement Award for Writing; a two-time winner of the Paul Hansell Distinguished Journalism Award, the highest honor given by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors; and a recipient of a 2018 Florida Folk Heritage Award. He is the author of Alligators in B-Flat: Improbable Tales from the Files of Real Florida; Pilgrim in the Land of Alligators: More Stories about Real Florida; and Seasons of Real Florida.