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The Neon Palm of Madame Melancon Hardcover – July 19, 2017
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"The Vonnegut is strong in this one: Will Clarke's The Neon Palm of Madam Melançon is at once bitterly funny and entirely earnest in what it relates to us about family, New Orleans, and this poor, wrecked planet of ours." - Owen King, author of Double Feature and co-author of Sleeping Beauties
Duke Melançon grew up in New Orleans, at the corner of Magazine and Napoleon, in a fancy, inherited house that his wild Cajun family has practically destroyed. His father married a Russian fortuneteller, known as Madame Melançon, and they had seven sons and one girl. The youngest son, Duke, is a corporate lawyer in the External Affairs Department for oil giant Mandala Worldwide. During an accident on a rig in the Gulf of Mexico, 50 workers died, and oil is pouring into the Gulf. The company transfers Duke and his wife and kids to New Orleans to deal with the fallout, and Duke learns of a family crisis "when their witchy mother runs out into the hot, syrupy night, chasing a calico cat." Madame Melançon doesn't come home, and the family launches a search effort while Duke's new home is invaded by a gaze of raccoons. As Duke's wife and kids flee the craziness for Houston, Duke searches for answers about his mother from colorful locals, including a Kurt Vonnegut-like homeless guy and a shady villain. An elusive necklace of gold coins may hold the key to Madame's location as Duke tries to stay afloat with his career and his marriage. Clarke's riotous, amusing novel parallels real events, namely the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, which does help ground a story that moves toward a moderately supernatural conclusion. The Melançons' stomping ground, the boisterous streets of New Orleans, is described in raucous and earthy details, a perpetual morning-after that juxtaposes inebriated tourists and battered locals. The family crisis is as pressing as the oil disaster. It's all very entertaining but also raises consequential questions about whether money can solve a moral crisis.
A bizarrely soulful ride through New Orleans with corporate high jinks and some mystical, unseen forces adding to the experience.
About the Author
WILL CLARKE grew up in Shreveport, Louisiana and holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of British Columbia. He is the author of several works of fiction including, Lord Vishnu's Love Handle: A Spy Novel (sort of) and The Worthy: A Ghost's Story. He lives in Dallas, Texas with his wife and family.
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The Neon Palm of Madame Melançon
Middle Finger Press
Hardcover, 978-0-9726-5883-6 (also available as an e-book); 354 pgs.Read more