Published on the occasion of Douglas's death this year at the age of 108, this retrospective collection gathers the early work of the Everglades literary patroness. Douglas (The Everglades: River of Grass), a naturalist who wrote steadily through the 20th century, published these nine stories in the Saturday Evening Post between 1924 and 1935. ""The Mayor of Flamingo"" tells of a New Yorker who retreats to wildest Florida, where he cautiously begins a new and rural life. In ""Solid Mahogany,"" an upper-crusty Southern family falls on hard times and must figure out a way to keep afloat. Though Douglas's gaze is at times clouded by sentimentality, she is in the main levelheaded in her documentary and captivating in her storytelling. This collection should solidify Douglas's place as a chronicler of both humans and nature and serve as a reminder that the state now synonymous with retirement communities was once ""a wide, dreaming country."" Illustrations by Larry Leshan not seen by PW. (Dec.) FYI: Douglas's Nine Florida Stories, published in 1990 and also edited by McCarthy, includes stories from the same period of Douglas's career.