Two visions of New Orleans: one you may recognize, the other—hopefully not.
Former contortionist and trapeze artist Boyden (Pretty Little Dirty ) invokes an array of New Orleans voices on Uptown's Orchid Street. Daniel Harris, a smalltime teenage drug dealer who goes by “Fearius,” hopes “[t]oday gone be his day” and the coming Hurricane Ivan will drive junkies into a stockpiling frenzy. Although his voice more often mimics street patois than evokes his character, language crystallizes with character in his white neighbor, the 57-year-old Philomenia Beauregard de Bruges, who seeks to divest her neighborhood of undesirables. Orchid Street's Minneapolis transplants, Ed Flank and Ariel May, meanwhile, struggle to maintain a family in an American Babylon that batters and woos with delights and disasters. Into the mix move the Guptas, an Indian family who have a difficult time breaking the ice. Though it could lose some extraneous passages, the book's nuanced story of people who “choose to live... inside the big lasso of river” reveals a side of the Crescent City not often seen in fiction. (Aug.)