Book Review: “Best State Ever” by Dave Barry

Best State Ever by Dave Barry

Speaking of whacky stuff down Florida way, Dave Barry’s latest book is a collection of articles about very, very Floridian stuff.

Barry “stands his ground” for his state, reporting on pre-Disney roadside parks , a retirement park, Key West, and other wacky places that represent the real, historical Florida – for better or worse.

Barry gives a full-throated defense of Florida, which gets a tough time from people like me. The trouble with Florida is all the people from elsewhere, he argues. (I’m sure the Seminoles and other first peoples agree.) And those other places aren’t so great, either. He lavishes some cheap shots at Illinois (heck, we haven’t convicted an ex-Governor in years, I tell you. Years.) and other places.

Point taken. But c’mon. Florida is weird in ways that are unique.

These pieces follow Barry’s typical journalistic style, requiring a personal visit with his own wide eyed, innocent observation. As ever, he is sympathetic to the little guy, not worried if people believe and act weirdly if it is harmless, and neither offended nor taken in by salesmanship and BS.

I learned things.

The Razor Girl is based on a real incident, as I suspected. While Key West is not yet a UNESCO World Heritage Site (we can only hope), the Weeki Wachee mermaid show is a state park. I didn’t know about The Villages, which is said to be the fastest growing town in America. I had never heard of Cassadaga, a town founded by Spiritualists, and mainly inhabited by twenty first century descendants in the same spirit.

Wow!  We’re not in Kansas anymore!

I still have no intention to set foot in Florida, but I will always eagerly read Dave Barry.

  1. Save Barry, Best State Ever: A Florida Man Defends His Homeland, New York, G.P. Putnam’s Sones, 2016.


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