Zora in Florida 

Zora in Florida as a book project was something of a fluke.  Back in the fall of ’89, I determined to sponsor a second conference  dealing with a Florida topic of broad literary interest.  The first was devoted to Stephen Crane’s “The Open Boat.”  That conference like the story that inspired it was held on the Atlantic coast just yards from where the original open boat was cast ashore.   

                                                           

Order a copy directly from the University Presses of Florida, 1-800-226-3822

                                                    Paper: $19.95 ISBN: 0-8130-1061-6

                                                    Cloth: $49.95 ISBN: 0-8130-1050-0

Zora Hurston’s Florida years seemed a natural.  Although completely unknown just a few years before, Zora was then very hot.  Shortly after sending notices around, I received a phone call from a senior editor at a university press asking if I would be interested in doing a book on Zora.  Later Kathy Seidel of UCF called and asked if I’d like some help editing the book.  All this may give young writers/editors the wrong impression because publishers usually don’t call you more or less out of the blue, nor does help of the caliber of Kathy Seidel appear like the cavalry in a western movie.   The book was published in 1991 by The University of Central Florida Press.  At last check, Zora in Florida was still in print and can be ordered through any bookstore. 

Here are excerpts from some of the reviews. 

Zora in Florida is a collection of highly readable essays treating those works of Zora Neale Hurston that for the most part have received little or inadequate attention.  These essays, written mostly by professors working in Florida, range widely in their subject matter, but they typically demonstrate the relationship of Hurston’s work to her roots in Florida.  Within the wide scope of this collection, there is an abundance of material that will enable scholars or general readers to deepen their knowledge of Hurston and her work,” Donald W. Cowart in South Atlantic Review, Vol. 57, Num 3 (Sept. 1992). 

“The fifteen essays contained in this volume focus on Hurston’s Florida roots and provide the reader with insights that help to explain some of the supposed contradictions.  Placing her in the company of American realists and naturalists affords fresh interpretive perspectives, as do the approaches derived from the application of her methods of more recent schools of literary criticism.  The addition of articles delving into lesser-known topics like her Central Florida folklore productions and her close ties with Rollins College, her association with the WPA Federal Writers Project, and her involvement in the Ruby McCullom scandal in Live Oak, Florida, add to the growing mountain of “signifying” in the name of Zora Neale Hurston,” Charlotte D. Hunt, Florida Historical Quarterly, April 1992.

“Characterized as part of the “second wave of critical response” to Hurston’s unique oeuvre, this ground breaking collection of 15 essays discusses lesser-known works,” Booklist, February 1, 1992. 

“The thematic center of thos wide-ranging collection is the “ostensibly unpromising soil” from which Hurston drew inspiration, the frontier wilderness of central Florida.  The fifteen contributions examine Hurston’s relationship to the natural and social environment of her home state.  Descriptions of Florida’s flora and fauna culled from Hurston’s writings appear alongside her evocations of the jook joints, sawmill camps, churches, and home that served as the sites of black culture.  The most effective essays capture the intersection of local and extralocal cultures and agendas within Hurston’s work,” Nancy A. Hewitt, Journal of Southern History, Vol 59 (1), February 1993. 

“One of the most interesting of the articles [written by Anna Lillios] deals with Ms. Hurston’s connection with Eatonville, the all-black town in central Florida.  In “Mules and Men,” Hurston describes Eatonville as ‘A city of five lakes, three croquet courts, three hundred brown skins, three hundred swimmers, plenty guavas, two schools, and no jailhouse.  At another time she wrote of Eatonville, ‘Maitland is Maitland until it gets to Hurst’s corner, and then it is Eatonville.  Right in front of Willie Sewell’s yellow-painted house the hard road quits being thehard road for a generous mile and becomes the heart of Eatonville,” Florida Living, January 1992. 

“A readable, unique collection of 15 essays, Editors Glassman and Seidel, both associate professors at universities in Florida, have written about the literature of the South.  This understanding of regionalism in American literature add an authenticity to this collection, which, the introduction claims is ‘the first in which anyone seriously examines the contribution of Florida material to Hurston’s work,’” Choice, November 1991.

Order a copy directly from the University Presses of Florida, 1-800-226-3822

                                                    Paper: $19.95 ISBN: 0-8130-1061-6

                                                    Cloth: $49.95 ISBN: 0-8130-1050-0

 

 

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