Absurdist Narratives in the Sunshine State: Comic, Criminal, Folkloric, and Fantastic Escapades in the Swamps and Suburbs of Florida

Jason Marc Harris

Abstract


Recent Florida fiction, such as Swamplandia! by Karen Russell, Sick Puppy by Carl Hiassen, and Triggerfish Twist by Tim Dorsey, emphasize the absurdity, liminality, and criminality of the state. By utilizing folkloric motifs, genres, and rhetoric—and employing simulations of traditional narratives—these popular novels explore and exploit the national perception of Florida’s status as the “weirdest state.” Harnessing the mode of the comically fantastic, each narrative reconfigures Floridian marginality by presenting the borders of criminal identity and the manifestations of social deviance as essential features at the center of this chaotic peninsula’s culture. Disordering narrative realism, these texts reveal psychological insights and highlight the uses of nonsense for storytelling.

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