Florida Man

To make it very clear, I am talking about the Audiobook in this review, and not the Graphic Novel project with the same name.

Given that they use the same cover art, I am guessing that they are the same story, but I haven’t read the comic book, so I don’t know for sure.

This novel is written by Mike Baron, who has written and drawn comics for quite some time now, including being the creator of The Badger, one of my favorite comic books ever.

The audio version is narrator by R C Bray, who I associated with his work on several Military SF and High Tech Thrillers, but whose serious, “Joe Friday”-style delivery works very well for this book. Plus, he can do a Southern accent without sounding like he is mocking the characters, a rare skill.

This novel fits my “Joe’s Sandwich” model of storytelling. The main character, Gary Duba, is a simple man who wants a reasonable, quiet life but is repeatedly thwarted by the perversity of the universe around him. He is, at heart, a decent man–and that’s what makes this book work so well.

That’s an important point, because in other hands the trope of “Florida Man” could have turned into cruelty humor of the “look at this pathetic loser!” variety, and I wouldn’t have finished the book.

Baron, however, meets Gary on Gary’s own terms, and shows us his virtues.

Gary is intensely loyal, and very willing to work hard when the occasion demands it. If you hire Gary and he takes your money, the job will get done, and it will get done right–you can take that to the bank. But don’t ever make the mistake of thinking that buying his work is the same as buying the man. Once you understand that ethos, it’s clear that on his own terms Gary is a very honorable man.

The novel is structured as a series of events, like an comic or television series. Several plotlines run concurrently, showcasing Gary’s relationships with the other characters, the most important of whom is Gary’s fiance and later wife, Krystal.

There is a certain sameness to many of the episodes–Gary tries to accomplish something that seems simple on the face of it and runs into an escalating series of obstacles–but the writing and pacing keep the book consistently interesting.

Gary is not perfect, and many of his problems are of his own making–generally through an unwillingness or inability to think past the immediate moment. And while I occasionally wanted to slap the character and demand, “What did you think was going to happen?” in general he takes responsibility for his failings and does what he can to atone for them.

All in all, very enjoyable. The humor is more subtle and low key than the cover might suggest, but it is a very funny book. Highly recommended.

 

About MishaBurnett

I am the author of "Catskinner's Book", a science fiction novel available on Amazon Kindle. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008MPNBNS
This entry was posted in Artists That I Admire, Hard Weird, On Writing and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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