John Dufresne LOUISIANA POWER AND LIGHT

ISBN 13: 9780099277477

LOUISIANA POWER AND LIGHT

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9780099277477: LOUISIANA POWER AND LIGHT

Welcome to Monroe, Louisiana, corrugated paper capital of the North Delta parishes, home of the Louisiana Passion Play and the Christian business weekly Prophet and Loss, a city whose library hosts a dysfunctional Great Books seminar, whose civil theater has produced a musical-comedy version of King Lear, and whose cypress tress have been known to drip snakes. Folks here have been studying the genetically deficient Fontana family for generations, ever since Peregrine Fontana sloshed his way out of the swamp in 1840. Now it's 1972 and Billy Wayne Fontana is the last survivor of this sorry familial line. In this hilarious and wholly original tragi-comic romp you'll meet Billy Wayne, who has been raised and groomed for the priesthood but who leaves his spiritual calling for Earlene, a sassy woman who writes country music lyrics at her kitchen table; George Binwaddie, a Pakistani messiah and motel owner who is driven to extraordinary acts of violence; Angelo Candella, a Vietnam hero and State House official who runs his office from a wheelchair; and Moon Pie Fontana, Billy Wayne's offspring, a physically disabled child-star radio evangelist. Hold on, this is a wild and wacky ride through the Louisiana backwaters. As quirky and imaginative as the best of John Irving, culled with the literary affects of Flannery O'Connor, Eudora Welty, and William Faulkner - all of whom Dufresne was compared to in reviews from his debut collection The Way That Water Enters Stone - this first novel about marriage, politics, friendship, love, and the quest for salvation will break your heart and make you laugh at the same time.

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About the Author:

John Dufresne is the author of six novels, including No Regrets, Coyote. Among other honors, he has received a Guggenheim Fellowship and is a professor in the MFA program at Florida International University. He lives in Dania Beach, Florida.

From Kirkus Reviews:

In his first novel, Dufresne extends the exploits of the Fontana family, introduced in his highly touted collection of stories, The Way That Water Enters Stone (1991). But devices that might be amusing in a short story do not necessarily have enough weight to sustain a longer work. Billy Wayne, last of the Fontana line, is brought together with other eccentric characters, all of whom live in close proximity to Monroe, La. (pop. 56,000). Billy Wayne was about to enter the priesthood when he met a woman in the hospital and ran off with her. They spend their first night in a field, then move to a decrepit motel sold to a gullible Pakistani. Initially, these miscast outcasts are put forth with true Southern flourish. Except we soon realize Dufresne is rambling on about his characters' lives, never once entering their emotions or examining their motives. Even when the Pakistani loses his motel or is held in jail, his response is glossed over with cold, generic statements such as ``my heart aches.'' Later, when Fox Ledbetter commits suicide, a chapter is devoted to Billy Wayne's last evening with him, but few readers will remember who Fox Ledbetter is (so facile were his previous appearances). This lapse of memory is not surprising: The plot is continually interrupted by narratives about minor characters. Dufresne wastes so much time telling readers he's telling a story and expounding on the art of storytelling that we lose interest in the characters and, thus, in the story. A more daring writer might have been able to handle this text-within-text commentary, and the flitting from character to character, by finding some formal innovations to suit the purpose. But despite a few experimental passages, the writing here is fairly conventional and conventionally boring. -- Copyright 1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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JOHN DUFRESNE
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