Coconut Cowboy by Tim Dorsey

“It concerns the decay of the American Dream, and Florida as the bellwether of collapse.”

This book is a wild romp through the state of Florida. It’s like the author has taken the complete wackiness that is “Florida Man” and has turned it into a book. The main character Serge A. Storms is a man on an obsessed mission: what happened to the American Dream? He takes his sidekick Coleman on a motorcycle ride down the state (he is obsessed with movie Easy Rider which will be apparent) where they stop at small towns that Serge finds to be fascinating. Of course what kind of book based in Florida would this be without sketchy characters, people with a weird sense of power, and drugs?

Storm is a little deranged, but somehow has a very big heart. I admire how Dorsey uses him as gateway to teach the reader about places in Florida and their odd histories.

Serge removed his helmet. “You’re in for a real treat.”

“Whose house is this?”

“Glad you asked! From 1930 to 1935, it was the childhood home of the legendary Ray Charles, before his sight failed and he was sent to Florida School for the Deaf and Blind in Saint Augustine.”

The adventures of Serge and Coleman lead them from town to town running into a bunch of weird situations and people, until they reach the fictional town of Wobbly. In Wobbly, a bunch of corrupt residences are in a battle amongst themselves, an innocent couple, a Senator, and some drug dealers. The culmination of the book really makes everything come together nicely and is worth the seemingly random story lines.

It might be a tad crazy, but it’s also smart and humorous. It’s not a serious book so it goes by quickly.

Peanut stands, tomato stands, baskets of peaches, sweet corn, decorative gourds, Moose Lodge, Kiwanis, Optimists, someone’s front yard selling birdhouses that looked like small red barns, another selling carved wooden flamingos with wings that turned like propellers, a sheriff’s car hiding behind a billboard to TAKE BACK AMERICA, a diner called the Cracker Kitchen bragging about shrimp and grits, something that appeared to be a cemetery but was a tombstone outlet.

I feel that it would be remiss of me to not mention another author who writes in the same vein as Dorsey. I wouldn’t be surprised if Tim Dorsey and Carl Hiaasen are twins from another life time. They were both reporters in Florida, Tim in Tampa and Carl in Miami, and their fondness for the state, combined with their knowledge and creativity really makes for fun reading.

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