‘BFF’ is an extremely intimate autopsy of a childhood friendship.
‘The Mayor of Williams Park’ is an immersive profile told in the quasi-detached first person, of G. Rolle, a minister who serves free weekend lunch meals.” ] dissects what Florida means to the United States with a nuance and complexity only someone who has lived in it—and, just as importantly, moved away from itcan provide….
Gerard takes a magnifying glass to powerful characters, herself included, and the underlying truths she unravels could apply to any number of Americans.
The reader becomes invested in the characters’ lives, at times torn between empathy and disdain, but nonetheless needing to know what becomes of them.” “Gerard’s native Florida links the assembled eight essays, but the setting is just that - a backdrop against which Gerard exercises an admirable impulse for experimentation.
Always intimate and never insular, they span a wide range of subjects—some trace the personal roots of family histories and youth and lost friendships, while others look outward to environmental conservation, religion, and homelessness.” “The distinct nature of Florida and its undeniable, magnetic weirdness shines through somewhere in each essay.
Yet, despite its title, that enigma of a state isn’t the focus.
This thematic ambiguity and avoidance of the pithy message are qualities—in addition to the effective use of autobiographical scenes—that some of Gerard’s essays share with those of Joan Didion…
[and] turns the book into an Everlasting Gobstopper for thought. Gerard’s collection leaves an indelible impression.” who capture and concern us.
This essay draws blood.” “These large-hearted, meticulous essays offer an uncanny x-ray of our national psyche, examining that American mess of saints and conmen, the peculiar, culpable innocence that American mess of saints and conmen, the peculiar, culpable innocence that confuses money and moral worth, charity and personal aggrandizement.
Gerard’s prose is lacerating and compassionate at once, showing us both the grand beauty of our American dreams and the heartbreaking devastation they wreak.” … Gerard’s writing transports completely, thanks both to the eerie, atmospheric prose itself and to her thorough investigative journalism; each essay carries the reader to a seemingly foreign world….