by Steven Gaines (Crown, $26)
There’s probably no enclave in America “more amusing” than Florida’s South Beach, said Carl Hiaasen in The New York Times. Reviewing the entire sleazy history of Miami Beach’s art deco playground, Steven Gaines’ smart new book doesn’t miss a trick. He shows how mob rule gave way to Jewish retirees in crumbling apartments before TV’s Miami Vice triggered a club-fueled rebound. It’s no fault of Gaines’ that the “SoBe” denizens we meet in Fool’s Paradise are “walking, talking clichés.”
Death by Leisure
by Chris Ayres (Grove, $24)
This “never boring” memoir about living high in Los Angeles’ bubble years will be very useful to posterity, said Jonathan Shapiro in the Los Angeles Times. Nebbishy London Times correspondent Chris Ayres “tries a little too hard to be funny” as he recounts how he overborrowed his way into a lush existence and a heap of trouble. But his capacity to “focus almost entirely on his own discontents” as the global economy crashes around him makes Ayres “the perfect chronicler” for our age.
Madness Under the Royal Palms
by Laurence Leamer (Hyperion, $34)
Though full of “wretched” writing, this in-depth study of ritzy Palm Beach offers a surprising depth of moral vision, said Chauncey Mabe in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel. Social climbing, anti-Semitism, and infidelity are recurring themes in the lives of Laurence Leamer’s overprivileged subjects. But because he has spent years playing tennis and sharing cocktails with them, he’s able to convince us that they’re really no worse than the rest of humanity. “They just have more money.”
by Caitlin Macy (Random House, $24)
This “satisfyingly old-fashioned” story collection makes a study of how conscience is shaped by privilege, said Carlene Bauer in Elle. Though concerns about ponies and summer homes might seem foreign to many readers, Caitlin Macy’s entitled teenagers and “newly monied” wives exhibit a neediness that feels like a universal condition. Macy likes to use her stories to turn the tables on her characters, overturning familiar power dynamics. Her prose— “tidy, assured, and graceful”—is old-school as well.