Elysian Fields

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About the author:
Louisiana native Mark LaFlaur grew up in the South, mostly in Louisiana. He earned a master of fine arts degree at Louisiana State University, where he worked on the literary magazine Exquisite Corpse. His writings have been published in the Village Voice, Los Angeles Times Book Review, San Francisco Chronicle, and the Boston Review, and about a hundred articles have appeared in encyclopedias and trade books published by Macmillan, Oxford University Press, etc.

He has worked in book publishing in New York and San Francisco and as a freelance writer and editor in New Orleans, where he wrote Elysian Fields. He moved to New York in 2001. After Hurricane Katrina in 2005 he founded Levees Not War, a New York-based, New Orleans-dedicated blog focusing on infrastructure, the environment, and progressive politics. He and his wife, Janet, live in Kew Gardens, New York, where he is at work on a new novel.

Elysian Fields

Authored by Mark LaFlaur

Winner of rare "double crown" starred reviews from both Publishers Weekly and Kirkus Reviews. Publishers Weekly Featured Fiction selection.

Simpson Weems is a 36-year-old aspiring poet whose life has been on hold -- to the breaking point. All he needs to fulfill his potential is to move to San Francisco, but he's torn between his long-held dream of being a great artist and obligations to his ailing mother and his emotionally volatile brother, the all-demanding Bartholomew. Will someone in his family have to die before he can get to California? And how might that be arranged?

Written "on location" in New Orleans and set shortly before Hurricane Katrina, Elysian Fields combines menace, the comic strangeness of Flannery O'Connor, and hints of magical realism to convey vivid, original characters and a Crescent City that is both recognizable and more offbeat and seductive than visitors usually see.


"A wholly involving story with Faulknerian characters in a fully realized setting. [A] tale of brotherly love and menace. . . . LaFlaur's descriptive talent shines. Fertile imagery drips like Spanish moss: the old buildings collapsing, 'as though the humidity-sodden bricks were returning to mud,' while 'cloud stacks glowed like the battlements of heaven.' [Main character] Simpson's mental landscape is equally vivid, drawn with such empathy and depth that readers will forgive his perpetual indecision and may even root for him to carry out the removal of his near-deranged brother." --Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"[R]eaders will find the author's portrayal of New Orleans convincing and his characters fascinating and fully developed. . . . Life in the Weems family of 1999 New Orleans is anything but Elysian in this engrossing Southern Gothic snapshot." --Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A stunning debut . . . shades of Tennessee Williams, Faulkner and John Kennedy Toole. . . . LaFlaur gently and expertly pulls readers along with his characters, never flinching in the face of their foibles . . ." --Antigravity magazine (New Orleans)

"[A] wonderful debut novel, a southern gothic that is at times comedic, at times heartbreaking . . . In places Elysian Fields is as heavy as summer air in New Orleans, but it most definitely has a sense of humor. . . . [A]n impressive debut that will leave readers looking forward to LaFlaur's next offering." --Self-Publishing Review

Publication Date:
0988790912 / 9780988790919
Page Count:
Binding Type:
US Trade Paper
Trim Size:
5" x 8"
Black and White
Related Categories:
Fiction / Literary

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