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La Floridiana by Will Moriaty
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The Stingray Shuffle Book review:
"The Stingray Shuffle" by Tim Dorsey (2003)
303 pp. William Morrow (Harper-Collins Publishers, New York, N.Y.)

Ahh, the end of winter and the beginning of spring is starting to loom in the central part of the Sunshine State and that means it must be about time for a new novel by Florida Folk Hero and author Tim Dorsey!

Sure and enough, Dorsey's newest novel, "The Stingray Shuffle" was available in bookstores the first week of February.

Unlike his previous novel, "Triggerfish Twist", which was set in 1997, Dorsey's latest entry occurs right now. It brings back Dorsey's primary character, the lovable, handsome, suave, highly intellectual and totally bonkers Florida Folk Hero Serge A. Storms.

Although "The Stingray Shuffle" is a good read, it is neither quite as fast-paced nor as humorous as Dorsey's previous effort, "Triggerfish Twist". This does not mean, however, that this latest story is not an excellent work living up to Dorsey's high standards of being one of Florida's premiere authors--put quite simply, it is an excellent work.

Make Room for More Character Development
One of the primary strengths of Dorsey's writings is his thorough and uncompromising attention to the development of the characters in his novels. In this latest entry we get more insights into the events, history and circumstances that motivate the brilliant, insightful, resourceful, yet sadly demented and horribly twisted Storms.

Making a repeat appearance in one of Dorsey's novels is Storms sidekick, impersonator and perpetual stoner, Lenny Lippowicz, who parades around as "Miami Vice" detective "Sonny Crockett" (gee, where have I seen that before?) as "Lenny Lippowicz--The Don Johnson Experience". There is also the return of the world's handsomest, but unluckiest virgin, Johnny Vegas.

There are also a host of delightful new characters, including five Florida women addicted to mystery novels, that call their group, "Books, Booze and Broads"; there's Ivan, a member of the Russian mob running a book store out of Miami Beach; there's Ralph Krunkleton, author of a long forgotten, but soon to be immensely popular and resurrected mystery novel, "The Stingray Shuffle"; lounge entertainers the Great Mez-mo; Bruno Litsky, America's Favorite Jay Leno impersonator; the Saul Horowitz Tribute to Vaudeville; Frankie Chan and his Incredible Hand Shadow Review; Xolak the Mentalist; Bad Company and Steppenwolf; Eugene Tibbs, who plays a blues venues at Skipper's Smokehouse in Tampa as "Blind Jelly Doughnut", and Zig Zag, a crazed Jamaican from a Queens borough in a turf war over urinal guy rackets.

This is a story that jumps from Key West to Miami to Palm Beach to Cape Kennedy to Orlando to Port Canaveral to Polk County to Cocoa Beach to Cockroach Bay to Bok Tower to New York City and southward back to Miami along the route of the Amtrack passenger train "The Silver Stingray" where almost all of the characters of the book play out a wonderful finale wittingly and unwittingly being a part of a "mystery train" ride of a lifetime.

Executed in his usual superb style of story-telling, "The Stingray Shuffle" is a must-read gem of a book. For the Florida history buff, the book is rife with incredible Florida factoids oozing from every call of gray matter and pore from the body and soul of one Serge A. Storms. Several of the interchanges between Ivan and his nit-wit fellow Russian mobsters are absolutely hysterical, while Dorsey continues to tantalize, tease and win my admiration for his unsurpassed command of Florida history (Serge's history of the railroad in Florida and Bok Tower gave me chill bumps) and evocative Sunshine State imagery (Serge's déjà vu and imagery of driving on the Dolphin Expressway from Miami International Airport past the Orange Bowl and onto southbound I-95 past the unforgettable Miami skyline near sunset---well, I can't even begin to tell you what that did to me!).

You owe it to yourself to buy "The Stingray Shuffle". For that matter, visit the author! A listing of his book signings is available by simply linking to http://www.timdorsey.com/road5.htm

"The Stingray Shuffle" is available through Amazon.com

More La Floridiana tidbits

There was a great article in the Metro section of the Sunday February 16, 2003 edition of the Tampa Tribune about pre-Disneyworld Florida collectables. There is also a plug for the Floridana Fest where Florida Folk Hero Miami Mike Hiscano will peddle his wares at the Gulfport Casino in Pinellas County on Saturday March 1, 2003. Link on to the article at: http://tampatrib.com/floridametronews/MGA4MAUJ8CD.html

Just when I thought I didn't have enough to do on Saturday March 1, 2003, there is also one of the biggest comics-sci-fi-fantasy conventions in the country, the Mega Con, being held at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando from Friday February 28, 2003 through Sunday March 2, 2003. Making special guest appearances will be Michael Rosenbaum (Lex Luthor of "Smallville"), Anthony Cistaro (Kenneth Irons of "Witchblade") and Dina Meyer (Barbara Gordon/Oracle of "Birds of Prey"), Tickets may be purchased on line by linking to: http://www.megaconvention.com/

You, yes you, can participate in determining the design for the backside (or "tails") of a 25 cent piece that commemorates Florida. Vote for your favorite design. You don't even need to be a resident! Simply link on to www.myflorida.com

Thanks to NPCR alumni Steve Beasley for bringing this competition to my attention!

Governor "Jeb" Bush does not seem satisfied with just dismantling State government and putting it all into the hands of private corporations, he now wants to dismantle Florida's history museums and its state library as he has to come to grips with one of the largest budget deficits in Florida's history.

Of course what could be a more logical sacrificial lamb in the Governor's cost cutting frenzy then Florida's history! Who cares about that stuff anyway? It doesn't make the state tons of money and it might even force some people to think, and in these times of high anxiety, who wants to do that?

Link on to the following two articles that appeared in the Tampa Tribune in two consecutive days, the first, a letter from Nick Wynne, the executive director of the Florida Historical Society which appeared in the commentary section of the February 16, 2003 edition (http://tampatrib.com/News/MGAZPLBU6CD.html), and again on the front page of the February 17, 2003 edition (http://tampatrib.com/nationworldnews/MGAHJ4NY9CD.html) in the story 'State's Past Could Be History" by Jim Tunstall.

Keep reading those books by Tim Dorsey and Dan Allison. Serge A. Storms and Jake Murdoch may end up being the only repository of Florida history left outside of Leland Hawes and Panky Snow if the Governor has his way on this matter

"La Floridiana" is ©2003 by William Moriaty.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2003 by Nolan B. Canova.