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Key West Collection
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on June 5, 1999
Format: Paperback
Ah, here we are. Here are those oft' cited "glory days of yesteryear" lovingly reprinted by John Boisonault and Tom Corcoran - and the timing couldn't be better. From a literary perspective, it's of course Springtime with various versions of "season" winding down. Jasmine and Cereus perfume the often thunderous nights and a hammock'd or curled-up casual sip'n read offers just the sought after relaxation. Nothing could be finer or more suitable than Key West Collection. With a deft, self-depreciating yet mannered air, Ms. Raymer recounts first-hand adventures and mis-adventures in the "open air asylum" of old Key West. Here is a roustabout Last Resort of costume parties, nudity, famous writers, domestic squabbles, internecine jealousies, street bums, dirtbags, cruise ship passengers, body piercings and arguments over who got here first. Sound familiar? The beauty of the selection, of course, is how little much of our "lifestyle" has changed over the past 50 years. There is, however, one aspect that veritably screams out for notice...and that is humor, ingenuity and tolerance. I've had the pleasure of meeting many of the characters in this book. (The description of Cigarette Willy, alone, brought back a swirl of memories from that place before modernization and AIDS where one "merely had to wish to make it so.") Events like Fantasy Fest, the Suds Run, the Hemingway Festival and the Conch Republic Celebration were hatched in a hazy improvisation long before being certified as "annual events". It is worth noting that all of the events in this book took place in those days often cited as when Key West was "dying" - those days when Duval Street was shuttered and the streets were empty. Well, as the Key West Collection attests, someone was here, and though they may not have been rapaciously gouging the City and its tourists for every last penny they could squeeze out of them, they somehow managed to thrive with renegade humor and world famous alacrity. In fact, they survived so well that they created the "Key West" that so many tourists come here, in vain, to discover. Tom Corcoran's photographs from the near distant past, evoke a time of shrimpers, flop houses, stripper bars, lazy afternoons, grey weatherered buildings and Tennessee Williams - not tricked-up plastic faux once-upon-a-time trinket stands, mind you: the real thing. It's there in the scented evening air, in the smell of fresh Cuban bread and stand-up buche. It's there in a note from 1981 wherein the authoress can't find Tennessee Williams' house because "the streets were being dug up for sewer installation". We even read of a squabble between usurer Juius Stone and "Charlie Ramos" over the location of the "truly southernmost house". Key West Collection is the perfect gift for the newly arrived who'd like to know a bit more about their new "home" before they form an idea of what it ought to be. -Bud Nevero
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on March 22, 2003
Format: Paperback
This is one great book. I love Key West and someday I'm going to move there. It's home. When I discovered this book I didn't expect the reaction it gave me. It brought me back. The characters, the craziness, and the surreal island life of the Keys came rushing back to me like a tidal wave. It reminded me of what I love and miss about Key West. A wonderful read.
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on February 23, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
This is a fantastic book about Key West in the days before tourism and cruise ships. It is a book to be savored and read at leisure. On top of the fine writing, the photographs by Tom Corcoran that accompany the stories are outstanding. If you have ever been to Key West or wish to go there this is a must read. Like a fine wine, these stories get better with age. Each story is a treasure. Thanks Tom Corcoran for keeping this history alive! Now if there was only a book about the Chart Room of the 1970s and 80s. That would be a perfect complement to this book.
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on March 15, 2015
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Have not finished reading yet,, but yes, I enjoy so far since I also know many of the people she writes about. Might even find my own name there. She wrote several stories in the Key West Citizen that also told many different things about me. There are not many norwegians in Key West - hehe :) I knew her quite well - she was a delight to be around. S O very glad to have found the book !!
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on March 11, 2015
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
I am originally from Key West. While growing up there remember Dorothy's column in the paper. In fact my wife worked for the Key West Citizen for a short while and then for the city of key west. I really enjoyed reliving those times and knew all the places she wrote about and some of the people.
Good book if you are looking for some background history of Key West.
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on May 16, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Amusing anecdotes about Key West in the 1930's to the 1950's. Somewhat dated, but definitely enjoyable. Makes me wish I had known the author (or at least been around to read her articles in the Citizen).
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on March 18, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Excellent writer. I felt as though the topics were written about today's residents A wonderful visit to a time when keywest was just a small town, yet filled with the same quirky people that call it home today.
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on August 5, 2014
Format: Kindle EditionVerified Purchase
Since I live in SOFLO and have been to Key west a number of times I thoroughly have enjoyed the stories.
Since I know of most of the places it makes them more interesting . She writes well and with humor.
Would definitely recommend the book to any one who wants to learn some of the more interesting little known facts about Key West.
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on December 24, 2014
Format: PaperbackVerified Purchase
Captures the off-kilter charm of the Conch Republic.
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