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It is always a good thing when Dave Barry comes out with a new book, and his just-published "Best. State. Ever." is no exception.

Now, let me be clear here. I think there are several reasons that I like Dave Barry (who, I should point out, I never have met). For one thing, we're about the same age - though he's a little older than I am. For another, he is from a New York town that is just a little bit north of where I was raised. But mostly, it is because I like to think we share a sensibility for the absurd ... though, I must admit, he's turned it into gold as a columnist for the Miami Herald and as a humorist and writer, and I mostly make myself laugh, and occasionally get a chuckle out of MNB readers. But I digress...

"Best. State. Ever." is subtitled, "A Florida Man Defends His Homeland," but I think that is a little strong. I think what he actually does is throw up his hands when viewing various absurdities and utter the most famous like from Risky Business. Which is not exactly a defense, but close enough.

Traveling around the state for "Best. State. Ever.", Barry captures the weirdness of places like Cassadaga ("the psychic capital of the world") and the Miami celebrity nightclub Liv. In between, there are visits to Gatorland and Weeki Watchee...There's even a visit to The Villages, the world's largest retirement community, in a piece that ends up being affectionate and even faintly wistful, while being really funny about what he finds there.

My two favorite pieces of the book are the one about his visit with a friend to Lock & Load, a place where one can fire off as many guns as one can afford to rent for that purpose even while risking a testosterone overload, and his visit with a different friend to Key West, where I once went with a friend of mine and had a ton of fun but not nearly as much as he did. (Maybe we'll go back when I get to be closer to Barry's age. Which will be in just a couple of years.)

The best thing about "Best. State. Ever." is that over and over, I laughed out loud. At home, that meant my wife and kids would wander into the room and ask what I was reading. On an airplane, it meant that I got the occasional dirty look, but also inquiries about what I was reading.

I told everybody what I'm telling you. It is Dave Barry's new book. You should read it.



If you like Dave Barry's books, I'd also recommend you read a number of books written by my friend Bob Morris, who gained attention with his Zack Chasteen mysteries. A few years ago he came out with several e-books that have much the same flavor and humor of Dave Barry's books, albeit with his own particular take on the really important things in life (food and drink, mostly, though family fits in there, too).

My favorite may be "The Man With A Fish On His Foot: And Other Tales From A Peculiar Peninsula," which focuses on Florid'a idiosyncrasies, and which you can find here. Other favorite titles in the series are "Gut Check: Adventures in Eating, Drinking and Wretched Excess" and "All Over The Map: Getting Lost in Good Places." And what I like most about them is that they replicate the experience of sitting at a bar with Bob and enjoying an adult beverage or two ... and let me tell you, he's very good company.

Check him out.




That's it for this week. have a great weekend, and I'll see you Monday.

Slàinte!
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