This is the first book that I’ve read for the Southern Reading Challenge that Maggie concocted over at Maggie Reads. No Place, Louisiana is a first novel for author Martin Pousson. It gives a look at life in Louisiana’s Cajun country as seen through the eyes of Nita, who is looking for any way to escape her poor life. Unfortunately, Louis is it. Great voice, immaculate timing, and classic Southern drama set in the slow 60s and 70s of the lazy bayous of Louisiana.  You feel Nita’s yearning and want something more for her but know what the limitations that are placed on her are.  A new Southern classic for me.

The Publishers Weekly critique states:

From Publishers Weekly
Louisiana-born Pousson debuts with a tightly wound novel about a claustrophobic Cajun marriage. Life in Jennings, La., is no bowl of jambalaya for 16-year-old part-time waitress Nita Morrow when she meets Louis Toussaint on a blind date. Looking to escape her groping stepfather and dead-end existence, Nita marries crude, cheap, car-crazy Louis only to find that her ticket out of town leads to another small town. Nita and Louis make a life together, but not one where he can be the domestic king he imagines or she can even be satisfied. Over the years, Nita succumbs neither to her disapproving mother-in-law nor to her husband’s outbursts of machismo. Yearning for something more, she moves her family to successively bigger homes in better neighborhoods. Both husband and wife learn to focus their hopes for the future on their two children, while anger and disappointment with their own lives fester until the inevitable tragedy occurs. Southern family dysfunction is certainly not a new theme, nor is the failure of material wealth to make up for psychological deprivation. Pousson updates these situations with crisp technical adeptness by recounting his story both from Nita’s perspective and from Louis’s: the date, the wedding, the wedding night, the years that follow. Both husband and wife miss opportunities to deal effectively with feelings or the problems that undermine their happiness, and each injures the other intentionally and unintentionally. Pousson’s portrait of discontent is made up of piercing vignettes and Louisiana-inflected dialogue. Setting out to capture the modern South, the first-time novelist confidently eschews the style of a Faulkner or the charm of a McCullers to evoke the prejudices and limitations of Cajun culture in its unique, enriching and destructive complexity. (Mar. 18)Forecast: Fans of Richard Ford and Larry Brown will respond to Pousson’s dark perspective and adept prose.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

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