Morris Ardoin discusses STONE MOTEL: Memoirs of a Cajun Boy in conversation with Robert Fieseler
Independent New Orleans bookstore Octavia Books presents a conversation with author Morris Ardoin presenting his debut book, STONE MOTEL: Memoirs of a Cajun Boy, in conversation with Robert Fieseler, award-winning author of TINDERBOX.
Please do show your support by treating yourself to copies of the books, STONE MOTEL and TINDERBOX, available from Octavia Books at https://www.octaviabooks.com/book/9781496827722 and https://www.octaviabooks.com/book/9781631495953.
Dispatches from the childhood of a Louisiana son raised in a roadside motel
In the summers of the early 1970s, Morris Ardoin and his siblings helped run their family’s roadside motel in a hot, buggy, bayou town in Cajun Louisiana. The stifling, sticky heat inspired them to find creative ways to stay cool and out of trouble. When they were not doing their chores—handling a colorful cast of customers, scrubbing motel-room toilets, plucking chicken bones and used condoms from under the beds—they played canasta, an old ladies’ game that provided them with a refuge from the sun and helped them avoid their violent, troubled father.
Morris was successful at occupying his time with his siblings and the children of families staying in the motel’s kitchenette apartments but was not so successful at keeping clear of his father, a man unable to shake the horrors he had experienced as a child and, later, as a soldier. The preteen would learn as he matured that his father had reserved his most ferocious attacks for him because of an inability to accept a gay or, to his mind, broken, son. It became his dad’s mission to “fix” his son, and Morris’s mission to resist—and survive intact. He was aided in his struggle immeasurably by the love and encouragement of a selfless and generous grandmother, who provides his story with much of its warmth, wisdom, and humor. There’s also suspense, awkward romance, naughty French lessons, and an insider’s take on a truly remarkable, not-yet-homogenized pocket of American culture.
In this memoir, Ardoin provides an episodic narrative, detailing the sweet, sometimes awkward, often funny memories of his family, but moves beyond the personal to also document Louisiana life in the 1960s and 1970s. Through his descriptions of the regional French dialect spoken by his elders, to nostalgic images of places lost to time and progress, a unique portrait of a small community in Cajun Louisiana unfolds. Moving from childhood into adulthood, Ardoin’s story speaks to what shapes a life—location, culture, language, heritage, and family.
STONE MOTEL was published by University Press of Mississippi.