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The Thing About Florida with Author Tyler Gillespie

Thursday, April 8, 2021, noon

Join awarding-winning writer Tyler Gillespie for a reading from The Thing About Florida: Exploring a Misunderstood State, to be published in April by the University Press of Florida. He’ll also talk about his process of “exploring” Florida as well as some of the history, people, and places that make the state unique.

With the many “Florida Man” stories, Gillespie admits he was once embarrassed to call Florida home. In The Thing about Florida, he faces his Florida denial and takes readers on an exuberant search for the state behind the caricatures, with curiosity and humor.

His journey leads him into unexpected places such as halfway houses, gator pits, rattlesnake rooms, and clothing-optional campgrounds, where he meets eclectic and unconventional Floridians. He interviews storm chasers, Civil War reenactors, cattle ranchers, drag queens, python hunters, and pet smugglers. With perspective and empathy derived from his background as a gay man raised Southern Baptist, Gillespie shows how important it is to understand the diversity and complexity of Florida today.

A fifth-generation Floridian, Gillespie has written for GQ, the Guardian, the Nation, VICE, and Salon and is also the author of Florida Man: Poems and coeditor of The Awkward Phase: The Uplifting Tales of Those Weird Kids You Went to School With.

“Ripe with history, packed with fascinating information about the interior of the state, The Thing about Florida is a personal look at a profoundly misunderstood place. A necessary read.”—Kristen Arnett, author of Mostly Dead Things