Paperback: 240 pages Publisher: Vintage; First Edition edition (August 6, 1996) Language: English ISBN-10: 0679772634 ISBN-13: 978-0679772637 Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.2 x 7.9 inches
Alternating a tale of the past that has become a part of Key West legend with a contemporary story that reflects the pulse of life there today, Hersey weaves in these stories a brilliant human tapestry of the place that means a great deal to him. From the author of A Bell For Adano and Hiroshima comes this final collections of stories.
------------------------------------------------------------------------ Reviews from Amazon
Real Life in Paradise, April 6, 2004 By Born to Read
As a rule, I don't favor short story collections. A writer needs time to conjure up a real world in words, and once I find such a world to enjoy, I want to remain there for a long time. But when I looked for a book that would deliver a flavor of our southern-most city, I found "Key West Tales." It did not disappoint. Hersey's modern-day tales of this flamboyant place are raw slices of life, with nary a bougainvillea blossom or swaying palm frond to introduce a bit of tropical mellowness. In this book, irony rules: a man, laid low by AIDS, is robbed of his persona as well as his health; a fat Latino woman is offered a too-good-to-be-true chance at happiness; a woman who escaped to Key West after a divorce gets yanked back into a former life with a letter from the son she gave up for adoption.
Interspersed with the modern tales are briefly-told legends of this legend-rich place: of the wreckers and salvors, eagerly awaiting the next ship-wreck; of the distinguished Audubon, massacring the birds that would make him famous; of a greatly-subdued Jefferson Davis coming to dinner after his imprisonment. Normally I am a stickler for wanting to know what is fact and what is fiction (see my review of "The DaVinci Code," which transgressed in this respect). But for these short and delicious yarns, which lie somewhere between fiction and obviously-embellished fact, I make an exception.
Curiously, while the longer, modern-day tales are peopled with characters who might just as well have lived in, say, San Francisco, I found them dripping with what I, a non-Key-Wester, perceive to be the mood of Key West. For all its physical beauty, perfect weather, and goofiness, Key West is, after all, a place of real people. And ironically, that the characters in this book live in Paradise makes their joys and woes seem all the more poignantly real.