“On Archimedes Street” by Jefferson Parrish— Across the River in New Orleans

on archimedes street

Parrish, Jefferson. “On Archimedes Street”, Dreamspinner Press, 2013.

Across the River in New Orleans

Amos Lassen

When I opened the package that contained this book, I stepped back seeing the name Jefferson Parrish. Being originally from New Orleans, I knew that this has to be a nom de plume. For those of you who do not know, the state of Louisiana is not made up of counties but parishes. New Orleans is in Orleans Parish while most of the suburbs that surround the city are in Jefferson Parish.

Archimedes Street is just across the river from New Orleans and it is there that people live in an “insulated bubble” among oak trees that are centuries old. It is also here that we find professors Honoria Abbott and Rita Simmons, neighbors and matriarchs of the neighborhood. They long to make matches between men and together they formulate a plan to bring two of Honoria’s male students, Dutch and Flip together. They set things in motion is to find them an apartment in Rita’s house and then for them to be roommates.

Dutch is a rich narcissist who is very attracted to Flip, a good looking transfer student. Flip is sure of himself but he does not know how to deal with Flip’s arrogance and brilliance. What many people do not understand about writing about New Orleans is that the city has so many of its own unique traditions that it is difficult to write about them. Yet Jefferson Parrish succeeds beautifully in doing so. He captures the flavor and even the smells of the city and the gay underground of Archimedes Street is wonderfully shown here. To make sure that non-New Orleanians know what he is talking about, he provides us early on with a glossary of New Orleans terms which really had me laughing and make me remember walking on the banquette to the cordner and crossing the street to the nootral groun’. He also includes some wonderful New Orleans “receipts” for cooking. What great fun and a fun read.

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