Local Writer Satirizes Miami Lifestyle in New Novel, Deco
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If we can’t laugh at ourselves and all of our absurdities in Miami, we have become the pretentious holes that the rest of the country is already holding for us.
And with that philosophy we should all embrace the satirical writings of the local author and occasional cultist JJ Colagrande. His second novel, Deco, is a parody of life in modern Miami with all its eccentricities, stereotypes and offensive leanings. Let’s not kid ourselves – there are many.
– The author JJ Colagrande reads from his debut novel Headz
– fairness and laziness
Before today’s book start at Wynwood Haunt Lester, Cultist spoke to Colagrande about Miami Phonys, spoiled Americans and haters.
Kultist: What inspired you to write a Miami satire?
JJ Colagrande: Writing about Miami as a journalist (mostly for the New Times) gives me insight and access to the cultural pulse of our city, which is invaluable, inspiring and easy to tap into. Most importantly, teaching at Miami-Dade in Wolfson (the best of the school’s nine locations) really allows me to step out of my ivory tower and listen to the soul of the city’s streets.
Decò really represents the 3-0-5 because of my six years with Dade.
Sounds like jail time.
Is Decò’s character based on you at all?
Writers get this question a lot. Granted, there is a fine line between the author, the narrator and the central figure, but in fiction (including non-fiction) you are working to separate the three.
I would say the characters are from people I’ve seen or had contact with, including myself. Then the composites of these people transform with my imagination and adapt to the context of the scenes of the story. In the end, they are characters who are completely independent of me.
What do you love most about Miami? Hate the most?
I love how Miami is a city with a degree of separation. How small it is to know and enjoy a multitude of different lifestyles, scenes and places, and yet big enough to get lost in.
Our dualities bother me. For a city of transience, we are in redundancy. For a city of so much love, we’re soaked in buckets of hate. Miami Phonies bother me a little.
What do you hope readers will get from the novel?
Everyone will get what they get from it.
I find it fun, easy to read, and extreme, ridiculous, timely. I hope people meditate on the main theme of Decò – and that means, as Americans, we are not entitled to anything. Gone are the days when children were pampered by the baby boomers. America can still be extraordinary, but we have to work really hard for our successes and we mustn’t be lazy.
What would you say to haters who might take your satire seriously?
Haters should take this very, very seriously. Does the sarcasm come anyway? Is that now.
Did you research for the novel or is it all about life experience?
I had this book in my head for about a year, and when I finally got time to write it came out quickly in about four months. Then when I tried to sell it to a corporate publisher (which didn’t happen this time; hate away, haters) I tweaked it even further. I am very proud of this book. I worked very hard on it. It’s a modern day adaptation of Voltaire’s Candide and when people read it, whether they know Candide or not, I really think they’re going to be digging Decò.
What was your most ridiculous or satirical Miami experience ever?
Read the book. Get it from the website. There are a couple of stories in there.
The Deco book launch party starts at 7:30 p.m. at Lester’s. There will be readings from the novel as well as a performance by local stand-up comedian Forrest Shaw. You can check the event details on Facebook. Colagrande will also read at the Miami Book Fair International on November 19th.
Follow Cultist on Facebook and Twitter @CultistMiami.
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Hannah Sentenac deals with issues related to vegetables, beverages, pop culture, travel and animal welfare. She is also the Editor-in-Chief of LatestVeganNews.com.