Saturday, January 28, 2017

Memories of Cypress Parish

Reading Elise Blackwell is quite an enjoyment; her words evoke such imagery and emotions that could only come from someone who has seen and experienced much in their life. Although she and I have never met face to face, I consider her to be a friend, if only in the aether.

The Unnatural History of Cypress Parish is a reflection, albeit a fictional one, of a man looking back on his life and the choices he made during the Spring of 1927. Louis Proby, now an old man, is awaiting the "arrival" of Hurricane Katrina, yet his mind goes back in time to when New Orleans first flooded in 1927. During that year, he was a strapping 17 year old man in Cypress, Louisiana who had seen little yet knew that there was more to Life. During this Spring, he fell in love and lost his virginity, made friends with men in high places, experienced the big city of New Orleans in all its glorified debauchery, and was a victim of a flooding that shouldn't have happened in the first place.

His father was an upright and fair man with both whites and blacks, his mother was a pious woman, and his siblings carried their own personalities. I do have to admit that out of all his siblings, I preferred Emily and her connection to the world through her sense of smell. Although Louis' father wants him to be a doctor, Louis desires something else, something grander than what he experiences in the day to day. In thanks to his friend, the artist Gaspar Anderson, he understands that the world is what you make of it; a muddy river can hold so many colours, and a simple girl can be on the verge of exploding into a woman who can feel more than others.

Elise has this thing with her writing that I simply adore - her quiet words create such magick across the pages. The rhythm of what she is trying to convey is simple and direct yet with a hushed sense that holds so much power within. She reveals much with very little as others try to do with over 1000 pages. I always enjoy a book when I can feel myself there among the characters; I had no trouble slipping back in time to 1920s Louisiana and watching Louis come into his own under the threat of a flood. This book, along with all of her others, is highly recommended.

Thank you, as always, Elise.


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