World-renounded Hybridizer Wrote a Book

neoaddictJanuary 12, 2008

It's not often to find a fiction book that really appeals to plant people interested in the highly competitive world of hybridizing! I highly recommend SEARCHING FOR MISS FORTUNA- THE HUNT FOR A BROMELIAD by world-renowned bromeliad hybridizer Chester Skotak of Costa Rica.

Chester Skotak, a Texas native raised in Houston, has lived and worked in Costa Rica for 29 years and has published a novel loosely based on his lifetime of collecting, breeding, selecting, and propagating rare and beautiful plants. Skotak is a respected and accomplished nurseryman who has traveled widely throughout the Americas. On these trips, he has encountered oddball characters in unbelievable situations and has overcome seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

SEARCHING FOR MISS FORTUNA is well-crafted fiction using vivid descriptions that allow the reader to become an armchair explorer. It's an educational and insightful story that delves into the minds of men obsessed with finding one perfect plant for hybridizing. You smell the rain forests, feel the cool rivers, travel the by-ways of Panama, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua -- territories the author knows well -- and even take a side trip into the ritzy Miami social merry-go-round of farce and fancy. Along the way, you encounter dreamers, schemers, seers, and liars -- each neatly embroidered into a tapestry of exploration and misadventure.

As the free-spirited narrator (Skotak's alter ego) sets off on a river journey through Costa Rica to Nicaragua, the dam of his soul opens wide and spills out a fascinating, bizarre tale of his search for an elusive bromeliad, Guzmania 'Fortuna,' -- a pineapple relative of unsurpassed color and beauty -- lost in the hinterlands of Panama and Costa Rica.

Chester Skotak's decades of isolation at his nursery in the highlands of Costa Rica have been punctuated by occasional collisions with the real and surreal worlds of botany, horticulture, and travel. SEARCHING FOR MISS FORTUNA brings all this together in such a manner that it beckons to be read with the understanding that it reveals as much of the author as of his provocative subjects and fictional characters. The book, which began as a father's simple attempt to leave a lasting memoir for his children of who he is and why he chose such a reclusive lifestyle as a bromeliad hybridizer in the middle of Costa Rica, evolved into an elaborate story of broad scope and deep insight.

SEARCHING FOR MISS FORTUNA will appeal to anyone with wanderlust, to those with horticultural interests (especially those who hybridize plants), to the curious who appreciate the interesting characters that inhabit and visit remote areas of the globe, and especially to those who have come to grips with their need to find and acquire the ultra rare and the most unusual.

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