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Monday, October 7, 2013

Cities of the Dead: Double Vision

Cities of the Dead, Jason Phillip Reeser

For newer readers of Room With No View, I'd like to let them know about my most popular book, which is perfect for this time of year.  Cities of the Dead is a ghost story collection set in the cemeteries of New Orleans, Louisiana.  Tales of ghosts, pirates, thieves, and dead rock-and-rollers can be found in this eclectic congregation of mystical chronicles.

Back in 2006, my wife and I took a guided tour of Lafayette Cemetery Number One in the historic Garden District of New Orleans.  It was the first time I'd been to one of the many above ground cemeteries that are nestled into the various neighborhoods of the Crescent City.  Due to the fact that the city sits below sea level, burying the dead is not possible, since the dead seemingly refuse to stay buried.  Citizens of the early city discovered that the saturated ground always shoved the dead back to the surface.  The simple response was to bury the dead above ground in crypts.  As a result, the cemeteries look like...well, let's let Mark Twain describe it.  His view on it sums it up the best:

Lafayette Cemetery Number One
There is no architecture in New Orleans, except in the cemeteries. They bury their dead in vaults above ground. These vaults have a resemblance to houses--sometimes to temples; are built of marble, generally; are architecturally graceful and shapely; they face the walks and driveways of the cemetery; and when one moves through the midst of a thousand or so of them, and sees their white roofs and gables stretching into the distance on every hand, the phrase 'city of the dead' has all at once a meaning to him. Many of the cemeteries are beautiful and kept in perfect order...if those people down there would live as neatly while they were alive as they do after they are dead, they would find many advantages to it.

Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi, 1880

During our 2006 tour, which was just one year after Hurricane Katrina devastated that venerable city, amid the rasping wail of power-saws and chattering hammer blows (evidence of New Orleans' second reconstruction phase), we followed our guide past sun-bleached sepulchers and vibrant green alleys of thick, recently mown grass.  As a writer, I was struck by the crowded nature of this necropolis.  I began to wonder just what it would be like for ghosts to live here.  We generally think of ghosts in lonely, empty places like an abandoned house or a distant moor.  But here, if a ghost were to haunt the earth, it would not be lonely.  It would, in fact, be heavily beset by other ghosts.  Many of the crypts are family crypts, and family members are stacked in on top of one another like chord-wood.  Imagine, I thought, what sort of complications would arise between them all?

At the 2012 Louisiana Book Festival--look for us again on Nov. 2, 2013
Before long, I had begun to write a few stories along this theme.  Over the next four or five years, I added more stories, until I'd completed thirteen of them.  It seemed an appropriate number on which to stop.  Since the book's publication, it has been well-received.  It is a mainstay on the tables of a handful of stores down in the French Quarter, and was a popular item during its release at the 2012 Louisiana Book Festival.

Several of the stories are available here at Room With No View.  Just click on the links below to read them.
The Wanting Dead  (originally printed in The Louisiana Review, Spring 2008)

And now for the Double Vision!  Beginning this month, Saint James Infirmary Books has made it possible for costumers who purchase the print version of COTD to receive a free eBook version along with it.  Even better, if you purchased a copy of this book through Amazon in the past, you can log in and receive your free eBook copy also.  We are offering the same free eBook copy from the Saint James Infirmary Books website.  If you purchased a print copy from us (and all of our copies can be signed if you request it) or you choose to purchase one from us now, we will send you a free eBook copy of the book.  So be sure to get a copy today if you don't already have one.

For more information on the book, check out our website here.

To order a signed copy, just click this link.

Or you can use one of the Amazon links below.  The Kindle edition is on the left, the print edition is on the right.

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