Christmas, Florida (working title)
Market/genre: adult literary novel
Seeking agent representation for.
Uri has a love-hate relationship with New York. A Nuyorican who grew up in Alphabet City, he has seen the streets around him gentrify as he’s aged. With few familial ties left in the city, this would-be journalist and begrudging freelancer is frustrated with the high cost of living and his inability to get ahead and find a stable career. As a Millennial, the twenty-six-year-old feels a certain antipathy toward those older than himself who he feels got theirs before the Great Recession began.
Zach, a boyish-looking forty-five-year-old, embodies all the things that Uri detests: the Gen X photographer is cool and aloof; he has exhibited everywhere from the Whitney to Gagosian; he captures young, beautiful people as his subjects; and he makes money effortlessly. Although the two men inhabit the same city, they live very different lives.
When Uri watches an Oscar-bait film, he discovers a suspicious thread behind the based-on-a-true-story tagline. This film depicts a young girl—the sole survivor of an event that took place at a conversion-therapy-camp-cum-agricultural school—one that was burnt to the ground in an act of hatred with all the children and teachers left inside. After receiving a grant and contract to pursue this story, Uri leaves New York to interview the makers of the film and track the real woman who remained after the tragedy left dozens dead in on a small farm Florida.
Zach has a connection to Florida too, growing up outside of Orlando in the small town of Christmas, where his deceased father worked as a Disney Imagineer. He temporarily returns home for the first time in over twenty-five years to care for his ailing mother, an eccentric widow who lives alone in a Christmas-themed mansion called Joyous Noelle—a place she continuously decorates in endless holiday décor as a type of Yuletide Winchester Mystery House.
As Zach slows down to revisit his past, Uri hastens to track down the truths behind a flawed story and a catastrophe that’s closer to him than he knows. These two men are strangers, but they are being pulled together by an overlapping history that the God-haunted Florida landscape offers up—the same landscape where the Virgin Mary once appeared in a corporation’s glass windows, where live mermaid shows happen daily in Weeki Wachee, and where both men must visit the psychic village of Cassadaga seeking answers about a murderous fire.
Christmas, Florida explores the Millennial experience beside the enduring mystique of Florida as a liminal place. By creating a Boschian dreamscape of tourism, capitalist excess, Recession-era poverty, queerness, religious conversion therapy, and inquiries into family-making, this novel constructs a subtropical annex to the Southern Gothic genre.