Low and high-brow culture preparation for Key West/Florida Keys
April 2, 2016 11:10 AM   Subscribe

We are heading to Key West in a few weeks for our honeymoon! What books, music, long-form journalism, and other pop culture tidbits should we add to our Kindles/iPhone playlists?

My better half grew up in south Florida, and has been to Key West before, this will be my first time. No sightseeing recommendations needed - because it's our honeymoon, we'll hit a couple of the "must-do's" (Hemingway House, Dry Tortugas, Duval Street) but let's just say we're looking forward to being as low-key as possible the rest of the time.

We will be renting a fancy convertible to drive from Miami to Key West, and have lots of poolside time to chill and read. I know nothing about high or low-brow Florida Keys culture. Please help me make the perfect Key West playlist, or find some entertaining light novels or interesting long-form articles to read as I get excited for our time there. I asked my man about Carl Hiassen, but he said he's more of a mainland author.

We are not culture snobs (e.g., we both have a shared fondness for Pitbull, and I have a soft spot for Kenny Chesney), so do not hesitate to recommend cheeseball poppy stuff. On the other hand, I'm still not totally sure I've found a Jimmy Buffet track I can appreciate.
posted by mostly vowels to Media & Arts (11 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
It's long, but Last Train to Paradise: Henry Flagler and the Spectacular Rise and Fall of the Railroad that Crossed an Ocean is a great history of the Florida railroad that was built all the way to Key West, then with a train ferry to Havana. Equal parts history of the Gilded Age and a tale of a really crazy engineering feat. The tracks are still visible as you drive along the Keys (most of it is a bike trail now).
posted by Nelson at 11:18 AM on April 2, 2016


Tim Dorsey is another Florida author you might want to check out. His style is similar to Hiassen and many of his books are set in Key West.

Enjoy your trip! Key West is delightfully kitchy.
posted by _Mona_ at 11:30 AM on April 2, 2016


I love the Key West aspects of Alison Lurie's THE TRUTH ABOUT LORIN JONES. The place seduces two of the main characters and has obviously seduced Lurie too. THE LAST RESORT by Lurie also features Key West.

You didn't ask for dining recommendations, but I wished I had found Louie's Backyard earlier in our visit. Not so much for the full dinner-- though that was fine-- as for the porch where you can sit over the water with a cocktail.
posted by BibiRose at 11:32 AM on April 2, 2016


I think Carl Hiasin writes really great books set in Florida.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:51 AM on April 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Get Joy Williams' Keys guidebook, best such ever. And her fiction is brilliant. Also Jim Harrison, Tom McGuane.
posted by Skipjack at 12:38 PM on April 2, 2016 [3 favorites]


Sounds like a fun honeymoon! Hemingway, " To Have and to Have Not"
Robert Frost lived in Key West and I believe, like Hemingway, his house can be toured.
posted by areaperson at 1:23 PM on April 2, 2016


On the lowbrow side, I liked Stephen King's Duma Key.
posted by bluesky78987 at 2:32 PM on April 2, 2016


Conch Republic
posted by Ideefixe at 5:17 PM on April 2, 2016


I echo the Joy Williams and the Carl Hiaasen, in very different genres.
posted by gingerbeer at 8:49 PM on April 2, 2016


Mile Marker Zero is a breezy cultural overview.
posted by superfluousm at 8:43 AM on April 4, 2016


Well we LOVED our time in Key West and to be honest most of my reading was of the trashy magazine variety. I ended up getting Carl Hiaasen's Native Tongue, which is more set in Key Largo but was still a fun read. I visited a bookstore and took a look at Last Train to Paradise, and one of the employees said it was excellent. Maybe next time.

Future honeymooners/romantic get away types: Check out the Simonton Court Hotel, we loved it!
posted by mostly vowels at 5:08 PM on May 2, 2016


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