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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.
Posted February 20, 2003
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."Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.