Shaman Circus

General Fiction

By Gail Gray

Publisher : All Things That Matter Press

ABOUT Gail Gray

Gail Gray
Gail Gray, formerly of Lowell, MA now living inGreenville, SC, USA, is the owner of Shadow Archer Press which publishes edgy chapbooks and Fissure magazine. In the past Gail has worked as a photojournalist, managed a psychological practice, curated an art gallery, worked as a barista, deli More...


In New Orleans following Katrina all bets are off; all masks dissolved. “Don’t forget the sham in shaman,” Jacob Laguerre lies to his new apprentice, Alex Hampton.

When Alex Hampton, a twenty-eight year-old anthropology professor goes on field-study to post-Katrina New Orleans, he enters a chaotic and altered landscape where he’s psychologically, physically and spiritually challenged by the sarcastic mentoring of the mulatto, Laguerre, a current day voudou shaman.  

Here he learns all bets are off; all masks dissolved. “Don’t forget the sham in shaman,” Jacob Laguerre lies to his new apprentice, Alex Hampton. Both Laquerre’s and Alex’s psyches struggle through stages of transition and rebirth as their lives are enmeshed with a group of quirky fringe-dwellers, as colorful and eccentric as New Orleans itself. Lily Hampton, a sculptor, torn between her love for both men; Mavis, an artist who spent nights in her attic, but survived the floods;  Perry Laguerre, Jacob’s hermaphroditic twin, and Bad Jacqui, lesbian owner of a French Quarter bar: are pulled together to form the cynical but ultimately idealistic team who vow to stay in post-Katrina New Orleans. 

They all follow a taut path between madness and redemption in the no man’s land of RefrigeratorTown as they assist in the aftermath and healing of both the city and those who remain. 

On a trip to New Orleans shortly after Hurricane Katrina, I saw thousands of trailers parked in fields along the highway in Lumberton, Mississippi. I knew some people in New Orleans who still lived in tents, even though they'd been promised a trailer. The trailers were never delivered. The cost to the tax payers was $16,000 for each trailer. This is just one of the horror stories I heard from people who survived. Later that year, I saw a performance of a poet/singer whose portrayal of the voudou/voodoo god, Baron Samedi, was incredibly powerful. It made me wonder what would happen if Baron Samedi took things into his own hands to help the people of his religion locate and bury their dead. It took me seven months to write Shaman Circus, more than three years to edit it.

"Shaman Circus is a powerful story of love and loss, of the calling of the Gods and what price we pay for denial of our true path. Set in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, Gail Gray takes us on a sweeping journey: one part documentary of the travesty, one part magical romp where lively characters take the action and move toward a painful, but revitalizing end game.
Jacob La Guerre brings his Rock Star Style to the streets of Katrina, one part verve, one part voodoo. Set opposite is stolid and nervous sociology professor Alex, who has left his family in South Carolina to study the effects of the Hurricane on the Voodoo community. Shaman Circus is a gripping tale of misery and triumph. It is the story of New Orleans."
- Brian K. Ladd, Pushcart Prize nominee, author of poetry book, The Devouring Rime, The Atavist Puzzle Pieces and numerous short stories.

Plot-wise, Gray's book is unique and believably unbelievable (am I making sense here?). The setting is New Orleans, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The characters are desperate and emotionally fragile, and yet their culture is so incredibly strong that they are never hopeless or weak. What I'm trying to say here is that the book's plot is out there, filled with magic and voodoo, otherworldly things, and yet it's centered on spiritual questions, questions that seem a commonality in the characters' minds. Perhaps in the readers'(?) --J. L. Knox "Musical Chairs”

Shaman Circus is a story of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. The writing has great detail and provides an understanding of what life was like in that city with clarity that wasn't in either the news media statistics or the graphic pictures provided at the time of the storm. I was especially affected by a section where an artist was cleaning her studio. When she discovered that one of her works was only half destroyed from water damage, she ripped off the ruined part and kept the rest hoping she could recreate the painting someday. Gray's images of huge out of control trash fires and colorful Louisiana Voodoo rituals performed in half destroyed warehouses, pulled me into her story and held me there. There was also a fascinating love triangle between Alex, Jacob, and Lilly. Their relationships swirled around with almost as much destructive force as the hurricane. Shaman Circus is the type of book that makes its readers want to slow down to carefully pull in every word. It is more than a good read. It is a wonderful journey.  - Steve Lindahl, author of Motherless Soul

The Katrina disaster brings kindred spirits together in a story steeped in occult mysticism. In an environment shattered by natural disasters, the fractured lives of people search for meaning. Their struggle is not only with the physical, but spiritual. A mix of educated personalities and people of the street participate in thought provoking occult rituals. Personal relationships are altered as they seek understanding of who they are. Is shamanism the answer? Can relationships survive personal change?

Gail Gray has proven herself as a good author. For readers who are interested in the paranormal, they will enjoy this book.
Abe F. March "To Beirut and Back,” “They Plotted Revenge Against America, and “ Journey Into The Past”