Redneck Riviera: Armadillos, Outlaws, and the Demise of an American Dream

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9781582432953: Redneck Riviera: Armadillos, Outlaws, and the Demise of an American Dream

From the author of the National Book Award finalist, Salvation on Sand Mountain, a quixotic, comic account of one man's quest for a small piece of the American Dream.

Every year, Dennis Covington's father brought his family to the Gulf Coast of the Florida Panhandle, the "Redneck Riviera," and it seemed there was no place he was happier. Florida was an intoxicant to him. In 1965 he made the only investment of his life--two and a half acres of an inland Florida development called River Ranch Acres. Years after his death, the development went bankrupt, setting the stage for a classic, often violent, confrontation over land use and property rights.

Deed in hand, Dennis Covington journeys into the Wild West of the Redneck Riviera to claim his only inheritance. His quest charts a dangerous course: His life is threatened, his truck torched, and his small plot shot up and vandalized as his father's passion to possess the land becomes his own. Redneck Riviera is a personal journey as well as a brilliant look at the clash of values that is tearing apart much of rural America in a place beyond the law.

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About the Author:

Dennis Covington is the author of two novels, a memoir and the nonfiction book Salvation on Sand Mountain, which was a 1995 National Book Award finalist. He is also a journalist and a professor of literature at the University of Alabama. He lives in Birmingham, Alabama.

From Publishers Weekly:

Rednecks, armadillos and outlaws all play only ancillary roles in National Book Award nominee (for Salvation on Sand Mountain) Covington's touching, meandering tribute to his father. And although the title is somewhat misleading, the American dream is front and center as two generations of the Covingtons tenaciously pursue it. In 1965, the elder Covington bought a two-and-half-acre plot in River Ranch Acres, a Florida real estate scam. The land was worthless, never surveyed, miles from the nearest road, and when his father died in 1988, the younger Covington inherited it. Unfortunately, a band of locals, hunters and ne'er-do-wells calling themselves The Hunt Club had since fenced off the entire area and, with guns, restricted access to outsiders. Undeterred, deed in hand, the author sets out to understand, then realize, his father's dream. He chases "the crazy idea that any inheritance might be worth claiming, no matter how small, no matter the cost." Though this is a bracingly original American adventure story, there's too much padding in this short, generously spaced book. Covington is an able observer and skilled writer, but his detours-especially to Idaho toward the end of the book-prevent cohesiveness.
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