Elysian Fields / Mark LaFlaur.
Kew Gardens, NY : Mid-City Books, 
PS3613.A3755 E46 2013
Jones Hall Louisiana Research Collection
PS3613.A3755 E46 2013 LACOLL
Reviewers of Mark LaFlaur's award-winning first novel, Elysian Fields, often comment that the writing is reminiscent of various great twentieth-century Southern authors. Certainly the characters, places, subject matter, dialog, and colorful description come out of this rich tradition. But, other than having New Orleans in common, how could Walker Percy and John Kennedy Toole possibly intersect? Elysian Fields is not so philosophical or so hilarious. But, although the author's preliminary disclaimer states that "any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely imaginary or coincidental," he does happen to mention the 55 Elysian Fields bus, the McKenzies bakery shop near Gentilly Blvd., Dillard University, K&B (the old name sticks even in 1999) and a number of other reality-based names found in the general zip code of 70122. Probably only ten percent of the geographic names in this novel are fictional, but they all sound like they would fit right in. The sense of extreme localized place is very strong.
Another feature of the novel is the nuclear family as main character. The members of the four-person Weems family share the lead role, although the father has been dead for over ten years. Time shifts around fluidly along with the thoughts of the elder son, Simpson, a poet who was born a generation or two late. Fortunately for readers of this novel, this particular slice-of-life does have a definite plot and multiple recurring themes.
The LACOLL copy of this book is accessible in the Schiro Reading Room, but there is also a circulating copy in the main Howard-Tilton stacks.
corner of Elysian Fields and Gentilly Blvd. in March 2015
Post and photos by Susanna Powers