Tina Egnoski


I grew up on Florida’s east coast, a place where solid earth is negative space. Look at your left hand. The fingers—fixed, palpable—are water, and land is the empty network between them. The Cassekey River coils like a vein down the forearm of the mainland. Barrier islands, knuckles of land between the river and the Atlantic Ocean, are connected by sandbars and causeways and, at some of the narrower breaches, by nothing more than air and hope.

In science class I learned that our foundation is made of limestone, a honeycombed plateau of ancient and fossilized sea creatures. Water, opportunistic and pushy, eroded the rock over hundreds of years, creating caves, springs, underground streams and sinkholes that can open suddenly and swallow trees and cars, even a house. In essence, my teacher joked, we have built our lives on a slice of Swiss cheese.

My knowledge of geology, the ground under our feet, I learned in high school years ago. What I know about the allegiance and affection of those standing next to us—that is, the terrain of friendship—I learned at the same time from Dana Massey. Both are at best fragile. At the lowest level they are faulty, easily worn down. Wait and see, one day we will collapse and sink to the bottom of the ocean.

In the Time of the Feast of Flowers

Small-town Florida, 1976. Life is squeaky-clean. Nothing ever happens here and if it does, the only response is a polite smile. Seventeen-year-old Abby Newman and her best friend Dana set out to defy the town motto: Hear, Speak, See No Evil. They smoke, drink, push the boundaries of sexual exploration and break into neighborhood houses. When Dana steals an expensive object, their innocent prank turns into a crime. The theft comes to light, along with other secrets, and the strength of their friendship is challenged. In the land explorer Ponce de Leon named Pascua Florida--Feast of Flowers--Abby learns about loyalty, betrayal and the power of forgiveness.


"Poetically rendered, originally crafted, artfully revealed, this is the kind of writing that Annie Proulx would envy. It has the tone, mood and flavor that Mary Karr and Sarah Bird can merely aspire to. The passion and breadth of emotion remind me of Philip Roth in his prime, of Salinger, of many of the very best writers of our day. This author has talent." --Clay Reynolds, final judge, Novella Prize

"In Tina Egnoski’s poetic novella, Florida is an Eden gone bad, and becomes the vacuum her struggling characters must fill. The story is artfully written and Ms. Egnoski navigates the unfolding tides of a girl’s coming-to-age as deftly as she unknots and knots the character's shifting emotions. It is immensely satisfying to be so fully dominated by such a skilled writer." --Jack Gantos, author of Hole in My Life

"Egnoski beautifully captures the complexities of an ardent friendship that flourishes in one way by day and in another by night in a small Florida town. And it is of course this ardour which finally drives the narrative to its amazing, haunted climax. I read these pages in one, breathless sitting and I suspect many other readers will too." --Margot Livesey, author of The House on Fortune Street

Selected Works

Winner of the 2010 Clay Reynolds Novella Prize
Winner of the 2008 Black River Chapbook Competition

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