James W. Hall. St. Martin's Press, $24.95 (320pp) ISBN 978-0-312-28859-4
He's probably not the spokesperson the South Florida tourism council had in mind, but his new collection of 40 brisk, witty essays proves that poet and crime novelist James W. Hall (Blackwater Sound) is one of the region's biggest and most thoughtful boosters. Hot Damn!: Alligators in the Casino, Nude Women in the Grass, How Seashells Changed the Course of History, and Other Dispatches from Paradise includes pieces on television, heat waves, hurricanes and, of course, the writing life, all set against the backdrop of his beloved adopted state. Hall confesses a deep-seated envy of Florida natives; traces the epidemiology of suburban sprawl in ""Disney Virus""; and recounts his wife's violent carjacking.
Reviewed on: 06/01/2002