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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

First Novelist Brings Us Katrina and Her Disaster-Battered Sisters in Other Parts of the Country

Title: After the Floods
Author: Bruce Henricksen
Publisher: Lost Hills Books
Genre: Novel, 212 pages, perfect bound
ISBN: 978-0-9798535-0-0

Reviewer: Susan Larson in the New Orleans Times-Picayune
Susan Larson can be reached at slarson@timespicayune.com
Permission to reprint this review has been granted by Lynn Cunningham of the Times-Picayune. lcunningham@timespicayune.com

"A Whimsical Look at Poet-Katrian Exile"

In his first novel, After the Floods, former New Orleanian Bruce Henricksen tells a tale of two cities--New Orleans and Cold Beak, MN--both recovering from disastrous floods, both filled with folks trying to make a comeback. And not just people--add some crows and dogs into the mix.

The novel opens with George and Ruby surveying post-Katrina damage on Laurel Street. "Laurel is the street where Ruby's heart had been broken, broken with the branch that snapped in the storm, sending her eggs splattering to the sidewalk." The two fly north, a couple making a fresh start.

Billy Boischild is another New Orleanian who heads to Cold Beak, leaving behind a life in New Orleans in which he engaged in experiments in scientific faith implantation. He rents a trailer and starts examining his life, engaged in constant electronic spiritual debate with God and a nun called Sister Ann . . . But life in Cold Beak is wide open, as Billy finds . . .

The characters move in and out of one another's lives, looking for love and redemption, and sometimes, blessedly, finding it. Henricksen brings such fey charm to this spiritual comedy, with tender feeling for all these searchers, flying from despair toward hope, and ocassionally back again. Sometimes the reader feels she has wandered into Garrison Keillor's Minnesota, sometimes John Kennedy Toole's New Orleans. It's a short, thoroughly enjoyable flight of fancy, filled with sweet wisdom about the way we lean on--and crash into--one another.


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