Bayou de la Mere, by Poppy Brite

by djsacramento

#6: “Bayou de la Mere” by Poppy Brite

Synopsis: Two chefs from New Orleans head inland for a weekend vacation and run smack up against one of their pasts.

They were staying on the second floor of a 160-year-old hotel that looked out over the bayou. The place smelled of lemon floor polish and genteelly decaying wood. “I gonna show you up to y’all room,” said the proprietress when they checked in. The accent out here was nothing like the exuberant, full-throated New Orleans one; rather, it was low and musical, with a hint of the French spoken here less than a century ago. The woman’s jet-dark eyes, curious but not overtly hostile, kept slipping back to them as she showed off the room with its double bed. We might not like everything y’all do in New Orleans, Rickey imagined her thinking, but we need y’all money.

Lots of people know Brite as an early 90s purveyor of splatterpunk, but I think his Liquor series, featuring chefs G-man and Rickey and their adventures in the New Orleans restaurant trade, are far and away superior to the splatter and remain some of my serious comfort reads.

Brite knows New Orleans and the surrounding environs and if nothing else, these stories are a beautiful capturing of the region, pre-Katrina. “Bayou de la Mere” appears in the collection The Devil You Know.