The book jacket and accompanying press release of TJ Fisher’s Hearsay from Heaven and Hades: New Orleans Secrets of Sinners and Saints makes this book sound absolutely fascinating. There is no city like New Orleans, and the notion of 40 days and 40 nights in the muck of this most remarkable town with one of its colorful characters is intriguing.
“If you have a mindset that is stormy, curious, questioning, defiant and capricious, and you like a little poison in your paradise – if you have been broken into a thousand pieces at least once – this book is for you. Hearsay from Heaven and Hades voices the conflicted darkness and light of those who embrace life on the edge” - so says the book’s back cover.
The prelusion written by Fisher is engaging: part tribute, part endorsement and a dash of satire. The book should have ended there. Instead, there are over 500 additional pages of pretentious slogans, dubious observations and pointless insights. Line upon single line – a few of these thoughts have genuine quality and character, most are unnecessary and bizarre – and not in a good way.
A few examples:
“What is banned and prohibited is more enjoyable than ever.”
Several sound oddly familiar:
“Promises are debts, with a price.”
“If you do not stand for something, you stand for nothing.”
Some could promote energy drinks:
“We all swim in a sea of anarchy.”
“Harness the dragon inside.”
So it goes for over 500 pages. Single sentences, set apart, proposed to provide character, wit and charm, and failing miserably at it.
TJ Fisher is an award-winning author and a long-time resident of New Orleans famed Bourbon Street. She collected these thoughts over a decade and pulled them together after Hurricane Katrina.
Fisher has many projects and is a curious character in eccentric Louisiana. She just completely missed the mark this time.