More About the Author
Louis Maistros is a longtime resident of the New Orleans 8th Ward neighborhood. His work has appeared in publications such as the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Relix Magazine, the Baltimore City Paper, Entrepot, and many others. He is also an accomplished art photographer, and has been called "a wizard with light, shadows, and colors" by Louisiana Poet Laureate Julie Kane. He is mildly self-conscious about the fact that he shares a birthday with Lee Harvey Oswald, and is currently working out a conspiracy theory about that -- in the form of a novel-in-progress tentatively entitled "Holy Meaux."
"One has to write with considerable authenticity to pull off a story steeped in magic and swamp water that examines race and class, death and rebirth, Haitian voodoo, and the beginnings of jazz in 1891 New Orleans. Maistros's gritty debut novel follows the interconnected lives of the Morningstar siblings--all lovingly named by their father after disease-- as they wrestle with a powerful demon, con outsiders, kill and die, die and are reborn. The plot is complex and magical, grounded in the history of the city, without being overly sentimental. There is a comfort with death as a part of life in this work that reveals deep feeling for the city and its past. Of course, every novel about New Orleans must have a good hurricane. Like the one in Zora Neale Hurston's classic Their Eyes Were Watching God, this hurricane destroys the city while making hope possible. Highly recommended for all fiction collections, especially where there is an interest in jazz."
"This book sings out in true jazz fashion -- wildly inventive, oddly formed yet perfectly made, and never a sour note."
-- The Anniston Star
"Louis Maistros has written a lyrical, complex, and brave novel that takes enormous risks and pulls them all off. He is a writer to watch and keep reading, a writer to cherish."
-- Peter Straub
Maistros creates a city that is part dream, part hallucination. His New Orleans embodies both the grim reality of a particular time and the city's eternal, shimmering beauty. And, with the book's title, he provides us with a new and unforgettable metaphor for the sound of hammers at work, whether boarding up for a storm or rebuilding after one."
-- Susan Larson, New Orleans Times-Picayune & USA Today
"(The Sound of Building Coffins is) a macabre and utterly hypnotic feat of literary imagination, an extended tale of voodoo and jazz in the Crescent City, circa the turn of the 20th century. The novel is so fluently delivered that it sometimes feels as if it were being channeled via the same spirits - evil and good - that inhabit these richly drawn characters. Maistros, a New Orleans record-store owner and former forklift operator with no formal training as a writer, has crafted a work spiked with historical characters and events, so striking and original that it probably deserves a place on the shelf of great fiction from his adopted hometown."
-- Phillip Booth, St. Petersburg Times
The Sound of Building Coffins is set in turn-of-the-century New Orleans, where, explains Maistros, residents have 'a long and curious relationship with death, a closeness, a delicate truce.' In spite of all of the death and violence and betrayal, Coffins is also filled with love. Love moves characters to commit terrible acts, but it also drives them to right their wrongs. Love offers second chances, sometimes in this life and sometimes in the one beyond."
-- Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"The Society of North American Magic Realists welcomes its newest, most dazzling member, Louis Maistros. His debut novel is a thing of wonder, unlike anything in our literature. It startles. It stuns. It stupefies. No novel since A Confederacy of Dunces has done such justice to New Orleans."
-- Donald Harington, winner of the Robert Penn Warren Award
"The Sound of Building Coffins is easily one of the finest and truest pieces of New Orleans fiction I've ever read."
-- Poppy Z. Brite
"A writer of lesser ability would have been swallowed up in the swirling complexity of such a plot, plunging it to the level of a silly period piece regional novel. However, The Sound of Building Coffins is different. Maistros keeps his head above water and pulls off an admirable story because of his keen research into the history of New Orleans and his compelling style that is fired by his use of foreboding imagery.The Sound of Building Coffins is riveting. It is a good read and a remarkable first novel."
-- Endtype: A Canadian Literary Magazine