No Place, Louisiana
By Martin Pousson
(Riverhead Hardcover, Hardcover, 9781573222006, 240pp.)
Publication Date: March 18, 2002
Other Editions of This Title: Paperback
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"A remarkably sure-footed and rich first novel, admirable not only for the clarity of its voice and the fluidity of its style but for the coherence of its vision; its dramatic family saga, gradually unfolding in a deftly integrated Cajun universe, reveals the narrator to be a complex and acrobatic survivor. Pousson brings remarkable insight and literary power to the landscape of the American novel." (Lis Harris, author of Rules of Engagement)
Nita is sixteen, working in a diner, putting up with the coarse advances of her stepfather, and living on the edge of Jennings, Louisiana, when her brother sets her up on a blind date with Louis Toussaint. He is rude and cheap, Nita thinks, not exactly what she has in mind. But when he offers an engagement ring, Nita accepts what she believes is her ticket out of the place, the life she already feels is stifling her. She deserves better, and Louis can give it to her, if only he will work hard enough.
So begins a relentless cycle of expectation and disappointment that reaches its destructive zenith when two children are born and become the focus of Nita's fiercest hopes and most damaging desires. Her affection becomes a prison her son cannot escape, even as she denies her daughter. Soon Nita's incessant demands, seething prejudices, and unpredictable rage drive her family to the precipice, and over.
No Place, Louisiana is an unflinching vision of family relationships pushed to the breaking point, which Martin Pousson conveys with a rare empathy and understanding. Its exploration of themes deeply rooted in Southern fiction, and its ability to peer into the secret hearts of its misfit characters invite comparison to the works of Dorothy Allison and Carson McCullers.