Deep in the Shade of Paradise: A Novel

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9780393020205: Deep in the Shade of Paradise: A Novel

Dufresne is "an extraordinarily generous and lyrical storyteller" (San Francisco Chronicle) who has been compared to John Irving (New Orleans Times Picayune) and William Faulkner (Detroit Free Press).

Welcome to Shiver-de-Freeze, a boot-shaped precinct deep in the Louisiana swamp, famous for its healing waters and curious fauna. Grisham Loudermilk is marrying Ariane Thevenot at Paradise, the family's ancestral home, and we're here for the wedding. But reason and love, it would seem, keep little company in Paradise these days: Grisham's cousin Adlai Birdsong has fallen desperately in love with the bride-to-be. Adlai's ill-advised courtship proceeds even as his daddy, Royce, struggles to recall his past in the face of Alzheimer's; as Father Pat McDermott realizes his passion for the mother of the bride; as the conjoined twins, Tous-les-Deux, train their eyes on Boudou Fontana, the last of the star-crossed Fontana clan. And just when it seems that Adlai must resign himself to a prolonged season of bachelorhood, Miranda Ferry, Grisham's recent lover, wanders into town unawares.

With his signature tragic-comic voice and cast of unforgettable and lively characters, Dufresne explores love, death, imagination, and memory. Reading group guide available.

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Review:

In his fever-dream novel Deep in the Shade of Paradise, John Dufresne is a goofily, deliriously intrusive authorial presence. He's constantly popping in and declaiming upon his plot and its various themes (which are, incidentally, love and memory and family and Southern cooking.) Toward the end of the book he pronounces, "No characters are minor." This might well be the motto of the book, which is a ridiculously circuitous retelling of A Midsummer's Night Dream, set in deepest Louisiana and cast with literally dozens of cousins. The central story is a love triangle: there's our hero Adlai Birdsong, his cousin Grisham Loudermilk, and Loudermilk's fiancée, Ariane Thevenot. Adlai pursues the beautiful Ariane through plot twists and philosophical digressions, into bars and bedrooms, and finally to the family's old estate where the wedding is to take place. Being a Southern novel, no wedding is complete without a death, and being a Shakespearean exercise, no wedding is complete without a play-within-a-play. Dufresne happily provides all this and more in a novel so completely imagined that in the back, there's an appendix like a capacious satchel, made to hold "items of passing interest." --Claire Dederer

About the Author:

John Dufresne is the author of ten previous books, including two fiction writing guides. A professor in the MFA program at Florida International University, he lives in Dania Beach.

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