John Dufresne isn't really a Florida writer, even though he lives in Dania Beach and teaches at Florida International University. But Dufresne doesn't trade in detective novels suffused with only-in-South Florida weirdness like most of our local scribes. There are no hurricane-liberated rabid monkeys or drawbridge-jumping manatee lovers populating his stories. Dufresne's forte is something more enigmatic, more universal, more difficult, like true, monogamous love and whether it can truly exist. Or the substitution of everyday life and its frustrations with fictional representations or past-life remembrances. In his most recent novel, Love Warps the Mind a Little, Dufresne delightfully chronicles the hapless, bitter life of unsuccessful writer Lafayette Proulx. Laf's comrades in misery include his perpetually crying, soon-to-be-ex-wife, his cancer-ravaged psychiatrist mistress, and his Jeopardy!-obsessed coworker at Our Lady of the Sea fast-food fish joint. It's a funny, beguiling, and thoughtful contemplation of love, death, failure, and, well, life. And there's a bit of South Florida weirdness thrown in: The rest of Laf's family has relocated from Massachusetts to La Florida, where his brother worships Jesus and professional wrestling equally and his parents own a Canuck-catering hotel in Dania Beach.

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