Exiles in Eden: Life Among the Ruins of Florida's Great Recession Hardcover – Aug 31 2010
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About the Author
Paul Reyes's writing has appeared in the Oxford American, The New York Times, Harper's, the Virginia Quarterly Review, Details, the Mississippi Review, Los Angeles Times Book Review, and Slate. In 2010, he received a Literature Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts. Reyes lives in Tampa, Florida.See all Product Description
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
It's not a book that deals with the mind-numbing economics of the collapse of the mortgage industry. Reyes eschews interviews with bigwigs and experts in favor of snippets of daily life on the ground in Florida's hardest hit communities. Most of the chapters recount Reyes' days following around his father, who made a career out of cleaning up the left-behind remains after a foreclosed homeowner skips town.
I highly recommend the book if you are looking for greater insight into the human dimension of the Florida housing crisis. The style is both illustrative and, at times, poetic. I often found myself swept up in the narrative, nearly to the point of feeling the sweat of a humid Florida afternoon. The chapter on Lehigh Acres is particularly intriguing, bringing to light some of the backhanded real estate tactics that laid the groundwork for the current crisis.
Kudos again to Reyes on his debut book.
Reyes includes several different types of material in this book:
- Descriptions of the clean-out process - This is actually why I read this book. I guess I was thinking of something along the lines of an entertaining, insightful foray into garbageology. Unfortunately, this particular material is a little thin.
- Higher-level material on the crisis itself - This has to be there, but it's obvious this is really not his metier.
- Descriptions of the people involved - This is where Reyes shines. He does foreclosees, the guys in his family's crew, an activist, etc.
- Family memories - These were the best. Unfortunately, they're not always that closely related. One that is, though, is his parents buying a piece of swampland back in the 60s, then his looking it up 50 years later, which was particularly good.
Unfortunately, there's no real effort to tie these things together. It just seems to be one thing after another, with no sense of any real direction. It might actually have worked as a set of separate individual pieces. Or perhaps some overview at the beginning (I hope that wasn't in the intro - I never read those!).
A really good read.
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