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Thursday, July 14, 2016


5 stars out of 5

From my days as a spring chicken to now, when I'm officially an old hen, one thing has been a constant: I love to laugh. And one person on whom I can count to make me yuck it up - whether via a syndicated newspaper column or one of his books - is Dave Barry. So when the publisher offered me the chance to read and review an advance copy of his newest effort, I said bring it on.

It is, thank goodness, rather short - I finished the whole thing in a couple of hours. Had it been much longer, I'm sure I'd have been banished to the basement while I read. Almost from page one, my chortles and guffaws started - annoying the heck out of my husband, who sat in his easy chair across from me trying to watch TV or read a book of his own. 

This time, Barry takes on Florida, where he's lived for 30 years. Much of that time, he says, he's been getting calls asking what's wrong with the Sunshine State, and the laughing has grown even worse since the 2000 Presidential election fiasco. So, he's decided to clear things up, taking himself - and now readers - to the best that Florida has to offer. He includes a brief but enlightening history ("...nothing much happened in the seventies, unless you count disco, which sucked as much in Florida as it did everywhere else," he writes).

Actually, one big event did happen in the '70s - Walt Disney World - and tourism hasn't been the same since as visitors began heading straight to the Orlando paradise, skipping the once-popular roadside attractions. Now, though, we learn what we've been missing lo these many years: Places like Cassadega, known for ghosts and all things spiritual; The Villages, the world's largest retirement community that's chock full of tricked-out golf carts; and Gatorland, the Allligator Capital of the World (no further explanation needed).

The places on the list are almost as offbeat as his humor, which is sometimes tongue-in-cheek and often irreverent - just the way I love it. Put another way, Dave, you've still got it - it's been 24 hours since I reached the end and I'm still chuckling. 

Best. State. Ever. by Dave Barry (G.P. Putnam's Sons, September 2016); 240 pp.

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