Larry Baker’s The Flamingo Rising came off as sort of John Irving-lite: quirky characters, meandering stories, but none of the impact that Irving novels have. Still, it was a cute, sweet story and I enjoyed slipping into the Lees lives for a bit.
Set in the 1960s along the Florida coast, The Flamingo Rising is a coming of age story starring Abe Lee, who has fallen in love with his father’s mortal enemy’s daughter, Grace. Told primarily in flashbacks, we meet the Lee family, headed by genuine lunatic Hubert, who live in the drive in theater that is their family’s livelihood. The four Lees, along with some assorted workers, run the whole place while living inside a tower within the screen. They feud with Grace’s father – Turner West – for reasons that Abe knows to be ridiculous, but no one can make his father stop.
The book is full of love and humor and the occasional tragedy. Teenage love and grown up married love and those sorts of things. Nothing spectacular as far as the writing goes, but it’s a good story and worth reading. Oh, and the in and out of running a drive in theater in 1967 were, no joke, fascinating. Not a profession I ever knew much about, and some of the behind the scenes details were crazy!