The State with the Prettiest Name

Michael Hofmann

  • Florida by Lauren Groff
    Heinemann, 275 pp, £14.99, June 2018, ISBN 978 1 78515 188 0

‘So I have sailed the seas and come … to B … a small town fastened to a field in Indiana,’ the late, great William Gass began his imperishable short story ‘In the Heart of the Heart of the Country’, from 1968. Or, with his and your permission, ‘I have sailed the seas and come … to G … a healthcare mecca and football burg that was previously a town with a university that began life as a plant-breeding institute, and before that a railway-and-turpentine camp glued to a pine swamp in Florida,’ as Lauren Groff and I (separately) have done, perhaps a dozen years ago in her case, more than two dozen now in mine. For love and family in her case; in mine, improbably and occasionally grimly, for work.

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