Cypress Lake, a Florida vel, is filled with colorful references to the locales, the tropical environment, and the rich history of the Sunshine State. At the urging of a friend, Owen Cloud has moved to Sip Lake and has started work at a local hospital. During his first night on the job, as Owen sits alone in the dining room eating his midnight lunch, Tina Rochelle walks in and starts a conversation with him. As Tina speaks, the tropical scene of a painting on the wall behind her seems to pass right into Owen, awakening memories of his family's move from Maryland to Florida many years ago. From that point on, his awareness of life is dramatically enhanced, like someone turned the volume way up on the buzz of Being itself. In addition to this intense, ongoing experience, Owen falls in love. A young man with kinky red hair and a pug se, Owen has always seen himself as unattractive to women, in spite of assurances by some that you are t really ugly, just homely. During his summer at Cypress Lake, Owen experiences three aspects of love-passion, friendship, and generosity of heart-personified by three different women. He comes to understand that everyone he meets, or has met, is his teacher, that even the most eccentric characters he encounters have something important to teach him about life. Throughout the story, quotations from music, movies, and literature echo in his mind, blending with his memories and thoughts. When Owen's parents are tragically killed, his appreciation for generosity of heart, in the person of Marianne Miramar, profoundly expands. As Marianne comes to his aid during the wake and funeral, Owen realizes that she has always seen him as much more than just homely.
Joe Basara moved to Florida with his family in 1955. Growing up in the Sunshine State, he became intrigued with Florida's steamy, tropical mystery- this intriguing land which seems to blend into the sea via its surf-swept beaches. Basara seeks to convey this sensual vision in his writings.