cover image Alligators in B-Flat: Improbable Tales from the Files of Real Florida

Alligators in B-Flat: Improbable Tales from the Files of Real Florida

Jeff Klinkenberg. Univ. of Florida, $24.95 (352p) ISBN 978-0-8130-4450-7

Klinkenberg's Florida is concurrently an unapologetically kitschy tourist trap where %E2%80%98tacky' is considered a gift shop virtue," a sunny retreat luring retirees and transplants, and a mysterious wilderness that make residents realize their Florida, "deep down, is Jurassic Park." Represented by an array of eccentric and memorable characters, Klinkenberg, journalist for the Tampa Bay Times, depicts Florida culture and profiles its colorful personalities. To investigate an obscure study claiming that captive alligators respond to "auditory stimulation," particularly to the "key of B flat", Klinkenberg enlists Florida Orchestra tuba-player Mickelsen to test the patience of the beasts. Other interviewees include a famed photographer who claims that his idyllic promotions convinced many hopeful transplants: a flip-flop man, a female alligator trapper, a barefooted man living outside modernity in his "Huckleberry Raft", and a talented fish artist battling cancer. Klinkenberg illustrates traditions like cane grinding and worm grunting, the life-threatening hazards of a golf ball diver, and shares the strange anecdotes of many a store-owner, all with a good dose of iguanas and rattlesnakes. Floridians are a charming, talented breed, and this humorous, honest, and often touching collection of tales exhibits the melting pot of traditions and lifestyles from a journalist's eye. (Apr.)