Deep in the Shade of Paradise

( 1 )

Overview

A favorite novel by “a generous and lyric storyteller” (San Francisco Chronicle) known for his tragicomic voice and unforgettable characters.
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 ...
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Overview

A favorite novel by “a generous and lyric storyteller” (San Francisco Chronicle) known for his tragicomic voice and unforgettable characters.
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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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
[Dufresne] is one of our finest living novelists, and Deep in the Shade... is a masterwork to be treasured.
Chris Offutt
Wonderfully imaginative and utterly outrageous....This is a terrific book.
Dennis Lehane
[Dufresne] is one of our finest living novelists, and Deep in the Shade... is a masterwork to be treasured.
Lee K. Abbott
This, brothers and sisters, is tale-telling that bends time in the direction of beauty.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393331141
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/14/2008
  • Pages: 364
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

John Dufresne is the author of seven books, including the New York Times Notable Books Love Warps the Mind a Little and Louisiana Power & Light. He teaches in the Creative Writing Department at Florida International University and lives in Dania Beach.
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Read an Excerpt

DEEP IN THE SHADE OF PARADISE
by John Dufresne

 

INTRODUCTION

Imagine A Midsummer Night's Dream set in the Louisiana bayou, where friends and family have gathered in Shiver-de-Freeze for the impending nuptials of Grisham Loudermilk and Ariane Thevenot, and you have the newest novel from this "extraordinarily generous and lyrical storyteller" (San Francisco Chronicle). In John Dufresne's world, an ordinary wedding is an impossibility.

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 Adlai must resign himself to a prolonged season of bachelorhood, Miranda Ferry, Grisham's recent lover, wanders into town unawares.

With his signature tragicomic voice and cast of unforgettable and lively characters, John Dufresne explores love, death, imagination, and memory.

 

ABOUT JOHN DUFRESNE

John Dufresne is the award-winning author of Louisiana Power & Light and Love Warps the Mind a Little, both of which were named New York Times Notable Books. He teaches at Florida International University and lives with his family in Dania Beach, FL.

 

AN INTERVIEW WITH JOHN DUFRESNE

What made you want to undertake a re-envisioning of A Midsummer Night's Dream?

I didn't set out to do it, actually. Once everyone arrived at Paradise, however, it occurred to me that now we had an opportunity for some amorous mischief and mayhem.

What made you decide to bring the Fontana clan back in this novel?

Well, I had been wondering for a number of years what Earlene might be up to. And I wanted to get to know the boy she had. I didn't know his name or what he was like. And I wondered, was he cursed, too? The way to find out was to write about them.

Is Boudou the end of the Fontana curse? Do you think he'll be back again in another book?

Boudou could be back somewhere down the line. But he'll be an adult if he does return. The epilogue to Paradise tells us what Boudou will be doing when he grows, and I found his understanding of languages to be fascinating. As to the curse, I expect that if Boudou has a child, the town, at least, will consider the baby cursed. And we'll have to wait and see.

In the appendix you write about Miranda being a character who just wouldn't go away. Are there other characters in this book who were originally meant to be side characters but took on more?

Lots of them. I believe that every character in a novel is the hero of his own novel. I just don't get to write all those stories, but I try to suggest their struggles in the brief time they have on stage.

After Louisiana Power & Light you took a break from this part of the world and wrote about Massachusetts. What are you working on next? Will it be set in Louisiana?

Right now I'm working on a collection of stories and many of them are set in Florida. I've been here long enough to feel comfortable writing about them. I'm also taking notes for a novel that I think may wind up being set in Florida.

 

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

  1. Discuss the Samuel Taylor Coleridge quote that begins the book. In what ways is Paradise like a dreamworld from which the characters must awake?
     
  2. This novel is a re-envisioning of Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream. In what ways are the two stories similar? What story lines and themes did you recognize?
     
  3. A Midsummer Night's Dream is defined as a traditional "comedy", in that it ends with a wedding. Does Deep in the Shade of Paradise fit the definition of a "comedy"? What in the ending—besides the wedding—determines its definition as a tragedy or a comedy?
     
  4. In what ways is Boudou extraordinary? Discuss his relationship with Royce as it relates to the theme of memory in this book. How does Boudou act as Royce's memory?
     
  5. What is the role of the Great Books Group? Discuss their various roles and functions throughout the story.
     
  6. Consider the sermons of Durwood Tulliver that are interjected throughout the story. What ways does religion impact the lives of these characters? How does Benning lean on her faith? What about Alvin Lee and Father Pat?
     
  7. This novel is clearly broken into alternating chapters of night and day. In what ways is the reality of Paradise different during the night than it is during the day? Why can't Boudou sleep? How do Boudou and Adlai use nighttime to make their fantasies come true?
     
  8. Do you believe that Ariane, at any time, loves Adlai? If not, why does she pursue their short-lived affair? What is she trying to get from Adlai that she can't get from Grisham? And then why, in the end, does she stay with Grisham? Also, discuss Adlai's feelings for Ariane? Could he have been truly in love with her and then move to Miranda so quickly?
     
  9. Where Tous-les-Deux are conjoined twins, many of the other characters have opposites, or foils. Do these characters ever interact? In what ways do they affect each other's lives without even knowing it?
     
  10. What is Miranda's role throughout the novel? How did your view of her change and adapt as the action carried on? She spends time during the novel unknowingly watching Grisham's family from afar. What observations does she make? Are they correct?
     
  11. On page 250, the Great Books Group is discussing Evangeline and Margaret says, "It's not a love story...It's a story of bad luck and regret." Is Deep in the Shade of Paradise a love story, a story of bad luck and regret, or both?
     
  12. There are moments when the author and the narrator split and one or the other speaks directly to the reader. Who is the narrator? Who is the author? Why do the two need differentiating?
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 20, 2003

    Deep in the Shade of Faulkner

    Dufresne's novel is a romp through the South as only a Southerner would know it. It is also a deep frolic through the gardens of "narration" and literary analysis. This is the most entertaining book on the South since Faulkner's "As I Lay Dying."

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