Praise for Louis Maistros and The Sound of Building Coffins:
"The Sound of Building Coffins is filled with the music of New Orleans -- the richly imagined siren song of Buddy Bolden's horn, cacophony to some, sweet inspiration to others; the lapping waves of the Mississippi; the clamor of Storyville barrooms; the banter of street corners.
"This is a novel about love and life and death, New Orleans-style, when a cure can take the form of a healing or an abortion or an exorcism; where a hand on a heart can be a blessing or a burden; where the dead walk among the living and are known and listened to; where spirits live on and on, to torment or to love. "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 and USA Today
"(The Sound of Building Coffins) 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."
--Philip 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."
"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 CONFEDERACY OF DUNCES has done such justice to New Orleans."
-- Donald Harington, winner of the Robert Penn Warren Award
"Set in a meticulously researched, living and breathing Storyville-era New Orleans, The Sound of Building Coffins is variously an ultraviolet comedy, a family saga, and a meditation on race, class, and how those who think they're at the top of the heap seldom really are (more important points than ever in our post-Katrina landscape). Vividly drawn and frequently heartbreaking; a big, tremendously complex, absorbing, essential novel. Some authors live here all their lives and manage to write nothing but cliches about the city, but Louis Maistros gets it right the first time. 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
"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
"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. Maistros's gritty debut novel follows the interconnected lives of the Morningstar siblings-all lovingly named by their father after diseases -- as they wrestle with a powerful demon, con outsiders, kill and die, die and are reborn. The plot is complex and magical, grounded in the history of the city, without being overly sentimental. There is a comfort with death as a part of life in this work that reveals deep feeling for the city and its past. Of course, every novel about New Orleans must have a good hurricane. Like the one in Zora Neale Hurston's classic Their Eyes Were Watching God, this hurricane destroys the city while making hope possible. Highly recommended for all fiction collections, especially where there is an interest in jazz."
-- Library Journal
"A book like The Sound of Building Coffins couldn't have been set anywhere else than in New Orleans. This is a good thing -- even people who haven't had the experience of living there can get a feeling for the place, thanks to the wonderful writing of Louis Maistros. But for anyone who has lived there, this book sings out in true jazz fashion -- wildly inventive, oddly formed yet perfectly made, and never a sour note."
-- The Anniston Star
"If Maistros was a traditional storyteller rather than a writer, he would be one of those gifted individuals that you would listen to raptly, late into the night."
-- The Roanoke Times
"The Sound of Building Coffins manages to be surprising and deeply inventive through to the end... For those of us who were schooled in the refined belle-lettres traditions of American literature, this novel is a raw and unsubtle example of what it means to open a vein and write. To wit: 'Like a hurricane party or a jazz funeral, an embrace of some fast-coming and brilliantly inevitable (if unjust) end, an open invitation to the last and wildest party on earth, a high stakes gamble with neither certainty nor hope'."
-- The Alabama Press-Register
"Maistros has created a page-turner of gritty magic realism, voodoo lore, effective dialect, and swift pacing. Ever-present is the river, with a life force of its own, ready to take out the city. It does take a hurricane and its ensuing flood to cleanse New Orleans of the lingering demon, with Morningstars remaining daughter, Malaria, offering hope amongst ruin. The Sound of Building Coffins is for any reader fascinated with New Orleans and its history -- and who isnt?"
-- ForeWord Magazine
"Maistros succeeds by populating (the novel) with hoodoo queens, jazzbos, tricksters, rounders, and various folks with one foot in reality and the other in the spirit world. Such an approach richly underscores his overreaching themes of life and death, salvation and damnation, birth and rebirth, as his lively cast of characters struggle through troubled times with equally troubled souls. ... A sprawling, complex, and ultimately absorbing work."
--John Lewis, Baltimore Magazine
"The stories [of The Sound of Building Coffins] weave in and out 'like threads in a rug,' connecting in a lyrical prose that's as unique to Maistros as his story... In the back of your mind, you know that Maistros's absorbing tale will lead to a grand finale, one that will explain all.
"And he delivers.
"It's hard to read a New Orleans novel with so many water references and not connect the story to the events of 2005. But this is not a Katrina book. Instead, Maistros displays what most of us realize despite the horrors of the past few years, that New Orleans flirts with death constantly, whether it be yellow fever, hurricanes or devastating fires.
"And as Marcus Nobody Special learns, the waters come to wash over the city and all is reborn."
-- The Times of Acadiana
"Magical realism meets the seedy melting pot of early 20th-century New Orleans in this richly complex novel. The story has plenty of ghosts, magic, demons and, this being New Orleans, a 'Cajun bogeyman' named Coco Robicheux. It depicts a world where Jesus himself, speaking to a pastor busily wrestling with demons, would say 'Get the fuck out of this house.' It shows a place where outsiders are conned with elaborate scams that send them packing, none the wiser but considerably poorer. Those who survive this dangerous milieu are bound together by water, and the liquid becomes one of the novel's major leitmotifs. If all of this sounds improbable, it is. Yet this novel contains considerable wonders as well, and these wonders are more than enough to transcend the story's complexities."
-- Publisher's Weekly
"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."
"The Sound of Building Coffins is a big book in a little package, like a whole life in a mitered box, a story tucked away for eternity. Maistros built a lasting one-- gripping and gorgeous, somber and deadly... Many writers pretty up the past; this one gives it to us straight. We hardly ever hear those stories..."
-- T.F. Rice, The Other Herald
"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. Readers can never guess what is coming next as the various threads are revealed and followed. The story, although complex, rings true because of its meticulous backdrop and immediate reader sympathy with the Morningstar family.
"Maistros' story is not a fantasy tale. It is about life and the timeless theme of how people integrate living with the good and the bad around them and how they can emerge with newness as a result. The Sound of Building Coffins is riveting. It is a good read and a remarkable first novel."
-- Endtype: A Canadian Literary Magazine
"Maistros's novel is a painstakingly authentic depiction of New Orleans at the birth of the Jazz Age, and also a myth of the birth of Jazz itself... Describing the sprawling plot in a review would be like describing New Orleans in a sentence: difficult and probably inadequate... I like Maistros's New Orleans. I like its spaces and its dirt and its sounds. The city teeters on the precipice of natural and supernatural disaster alike, but it never turns into a landscape where good and evil battle for possession, rather, it operates like a dance floor, where the two circle each other, where good is not completely good, and evil not entirely irredeemable, and sometimes the two become indistinguishable."
-- The Front Table: The Web Magazine of the Seminary Co-op Bookstore at Chicago University
"Deeply original and as hypnotically strange as New Orleans itself, this novel breathes to life a magical realm. Louis Maistros' haunting characters are at once timeless and firmly tethered to their city's dark history."
"Much like my first visit to New Orleans, so many years ago, I am completely intrigued and beguiled. I must know more. I am seduced by the characters who become immediately tactile to me. I can smell the river as the first peddles his bicycle, and dips his hands in the water.
"This is not just historical fiction to me, but literature that illustrates human motivation soaked in the magic of human emotion. Everyone who is curious about or already in love with New Orleans should read this book."
-- GiO, The Burlesque Queen of New Orleans
"Louis Maistros has an original and dark vision, full of power."
-- Douglas Clegg
"The nineteenth-century New Orleans that Maistros creates in The Sound of Building Coffins could not come from normal research; you can write a book like this only after spending years obsessed, trawling through old newspapers and out-of-print books and even the streets themselves for clues to evoke this vision of the city's earlier life. That he tells a strange and intriguing story - a horror novel about the birth of jazz - almost doesn't matter. The weird way that this commercial thriller sings its paean to that lost era reminds me of Russell Greenan's IT HAPPENED IN BOSTON?, another classic that defies the easy caricature."
-- Peter Orr
"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 ambience of Old New Orleans superbly."
-- Raymond Buckland
"The Sound of Building Coffins is a soulful work from a writer of the weird. Maistros does more than make you feel for his characters and their twisted, damaged lives; he makes you want to feel."
-- Paul G. Tremblay
"Maistros is an explosive new talent whose writing reverberates with color and subtle irony."
-- S .P. Somtow
"Cursed lives revived and cleansed by a 1906 New Orleans flood... Riotous... yet mesmerizing."
-- Kirkus Review
"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