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Praise for The Sound of Building Coffins:
"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."
"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 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
“Maistros’s book, The Sound of Building Coffins, exhumes volumes of New Orleans myth and legend and folk-historical matters on death and rebirth and spirituality and epic storms. It’s the story of a haunted family of five children named after dread diseases—Diphtheria, Dropsy, Cholera, Malaria and Typhus—out of their father’s respect for the redemptive inevitability of death. Here, Buddy Bolden appears as Diphtheria’s feckless love interest, but also as a teenage witness and musical accompanist to a searingly intense New Orleans-style exorcism. In that moment, Bolden sees God’s face and begins to play cornet like a man who’s experienced ungodly awe and terror. This Bolden, largely unsympathetic—at times unforgivable—feels very much the author’s own. Louis Maistros' [The Sound of Building Coffins] is relentlessly absorbing."
—Steve Nathans-Kelly, Paste Magazine
"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... 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
"(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."
"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
"The Sound of Building Coffins is a magnetic story with beautifully drawn characters that keep you turning the pages. Maistros captures the dialect, the neighborhood, the whole ambiance of Old New Orleans superbly."
"Louis Maistros's novel, The Sound of Building Coffins, brings turn of the century New Orleans to life. Maistros masterfully interweaves tales of voodoo, hurricanes, the birth of jazz, and even demonic possession in an unforgettable book written in eloquent prose that draws the reader further in with every plot twist, turn, and character insight."
"This powerful novel set in 1890s New Orleans is a complex debut novel from Louis Maistros... Lyrical in its prose, the book deftly paints a world that is changing, a world where music fills the streets even as pain fills the doorways. A beautiful and compelling first novel."
"One of the best New Orleans novels I've ever read, Louis Maistros' debut seems dictated in a fever dream of automatic writing."
—Patrick Millikin, The Poisoned Pen, Scottsdale, AZ
"For me, it was the perfect book, at the perfect time, and I will cherish it forever."
—Ray Shea, from "The Last Book I Loved" at TheRumpus.Net
"The multiple plot lines smoothly interlock like simultaneous horn solos in an early Louis Armstrong single, and the steady flow of closely observed details and dialogue are a consistent pleasure."
—Joab Jackson, The Baltimore City Paper
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