Largo, Michael

Southern Comfort by Michael Largo: Book Cover Southern Comfort (1977)
From Publishers Weekly
The 1999 publication of Largo's second novel, Lies Within, occasions this reprint of the author's 1977 glimpse into Florida's backwoods trailer lowlife, which centers around alcoholic antihero Earl Johnson Tucker. The book's efficient, realistic dialogue sustains the adventures of Earl and his swampland cohorts as they ramble and flail in mud-laden waters, illegally poaching gators, killing snakes, spiking turtles and hunting raccoon. The grim tale moves from trailer to tavern to swamp, the plot adorned with a vaguely outlined subplot involving two teenage sisters who sneak off for trysts with some army reservists. The girls' father and brothers wind up killing the reservists and spend half the novel hunting down Tucker as well, under the impression that the hard-drinking poacher also messed around with the teenagers. This minidrama remains sketchy and incidental, ostensibly serving as a simplistic and clich?d reminder that backwoods girls are stupid, conniving and more trouble than they're worth. Meanwhile, Earl and his buddies troll the taverns for "gashes" (i.e., women, or whores) and the swamps for gator. Earl is a tough-talking, stereotypical redneck who's hard to like, especially as he's both demanding and neglectful of the one likable character, his wife, Ellen, wheelchair-bound after a stroke. The story becomes even more grim when Ellen dies, taking with her the book's only source of emotional complexity. The last part of the novel is a litany of fishing, beer guzzling, barroom brawling and a superficially handled resolution to the reservists' killings. Though this peek into the gritty, violent life of a boozy desperado may waver in focus, Largo's rendering of Florida's seamy side is convincingly squalid, and his characters manifest this grubbiness with effortless and unremitting nerve. (Oct.)
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Cover Image Lies Within (1999)
From Library Journal
Largo here revisits the characters of his first novel of 20 years ago, Southern Comfort (LJ 6/15/77). When renegade CIA agents James and Lily Curan fake their own deaths in Haiti in order to go underground, James's cousin Tucker, a ne'er-do-well alcoholic living on the fringes of the Florida Everglades, adopts the couple's twins and rears them as his own. The Curans' decision to surface after ten years of covert activity with drug smugglers in the Miami area creates a crisis situation for the CIA, the smugglers, and the family. Kidnapping, murder, police entrapment, a swamp fire, deadly snakes, hungry alligators, and a couple of love storiesAthis has all the elements of a first-rate novel of adventure and intrigue. It's a fun read, though it cries out for the attention of a good editor to tighten up the story and clarify some areas of confusion.AThomas L. Kilpatrick, Southern Illinois Univ. Lib., Carbondale
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Welcome to Miami by Michael Largo: Book Cover Welcome to Miami (2001)
From Publishers Weekly
Emilio Garcia Abierto is the Billy Pilgrim, the na?ve innocent, at the heart of this mostly comic tale of a Mariel refugee who believes for two decades that he has been sent to America to operate as a James Bond-style super-spy for Fidel Castro. That's the joke that runs the length and depth of Largo's novelAthough even more amusing is the possibility that Abierto (literal translation: open) might be correct. The narrative is told frame style, with Abierto's good friend Max, a Florida native, pitching Abierto's story to a movie "scout." Max is one of the regulars who hang out at Pecker's Bait & Tackle, and he trucks out refugees from downtown Miami to work for wealthy old man Manuel, one of the original landowners to flee Cuba when Castro came to power. Subplots include Tom Pecker's plan to "discover" a bigfoot in the Everglades, and Ma Pecker's resurgent sexuality. Largo nails the grudging and grungy treatment accorded the Marielitos by every ethnic slice of the Miami pie, and he lampoons American plenty, which plays a big role in events. Even Fidel, heavily veiled in cartoon disguises, makes an appearance at the ragged edge of the Everglades for the sake of lust and Cocoa Puffs. Throughout, Abierto never loses his movie-fueled belief in the glamour of being a spy, or his faith in Castro-style communism. The sincere, humorless Abierto's 20-year initiation into the American dream is a thin thread to hang a plot on, however. Since Largo can't resist the contrast between Florida's color-saturated atmosphere and its Darwinian realities, his tone veers from slapstick to serious and back again, and the novel fails to gain solid ground. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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