Saturday, November 17, 2007

Burning Questions (Cultural Complaints): Frank Lloyd Wright/FSC, Norman Mailer/Waldenbooks, Harry Crews/Florida Artists Hall of Fame

Burning Questions/Cultural Complaints ...

1)The new 16-month Frank Lloyd Wright wall calendar doesn't include a single photo of Florida Southern College (in Lakeland, Fla.), home to the single largest collection of Wright-designed buildings in the world. Why? And why does FSC continue to be underappreciated in books and articles on Wright and his work? (Photo is the spire of the Annie Pfeiffer Chapel).

2)Norman Mailer, easily one of the most important and most influential American writers to emerge since WW II, passed away recently. His legacy has been toasted in front-page stories and book-section features that continue to roll out. So wouldn't it make sense, at the very least for commercial reasons, for chain stores to re-stock their supply of Mailer's superb fiction and non-fiction books? Why, on a recent visit to a Waldenbooks (at Westshore Mall in Tampa), couldn't I find more than one title, The Castle in the Forest, and only two copies at that?

3)Harry Crews, despite the failings of his most recent novel, is a major figure in Florida fiction, Southern fiction and contemporary fiction. So why, as Diane Roberts recently pointed out in a St. Petersburg Times story, has Crews STILL not been named to the Florida Artists Hall of Fame? Jimmy Buffet and Burt Reynolds are in, as Roberts relates. Crews is "the heir of William Faulkner and the godfather of Cormac McCarthy," Roberts writes. "He's Maileresque (if Mailer had been born on a tenant farm). He's the poet of the low-down, the back roads, the broken heart of old Florida. His milieu is the green-shadowed swamps and tar-paper shacks tourists never see, and the hamlets promising not tropical paradise but deer processing, cheap beer and salvation at the Full Gospel Church."

I'd agree: Crews, a retired UF creative writing teacher who grew up dirt-poor in Georgia, has created compelling fiction that's Southern-fried, hardboiled, quirky and deeply literate. He wuz robbed. For the whole story, go here.

Discuss among yourselves. Respond.

1 comment:

BZ said...

My mother lives in Lakeland (a recent transplant). I will have to pay more attention to the architecture, downtown, the next time I visit.