The Floating World

The Floating World

A dazzling debut about family, home, and grief, The Floating World takes readers into the heart of Hurricane Katrina with the story of the Boisdorés, whose roots stretch back nearly to the foundation of New Orleans. Though the storm is fast approaching the Louisiana coast, Cora, the family’s fragile elder daughter, refuses to leave the city, forcing her parents, Joe Boisdo...

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Title:The Floating World
Author:C. Morgan Babst
Rating:
Edition Language:English

The Floating World Reviews

  • Devin Murphy

    This book blew me away. I loved the language and story. The fact that it is about to come out just after Houston is flooding is wild. What a great read you should jump on right NOW.

  • Becky

    I got my hands on an ARC of this book through a friend in the industry who thought I'd like it, and she was not wrong. This book was beautifully written. While the plot centered around death, destruction, and deteriorating familial relationships, the language coursed in a very poetic, lyrical way, and the global structure ebbed and flowed between the past and the present... which just seems fitting for a story about the effects of Hurricane Katrina on one New Orleans family.

    The book is not about

    I got my hands on an ARC of this book through a friend in the industry who thought I'd like it, and she was not wrong. This book was beautifully written. While the plot centered around death, destruction, and deteriorating familial relationships, the language coursed in a very poetic, lyrical way, and the global structure ebbed and flowed between the past and the present... which just seems fitting for a story about the effects of Hurricane Katrina on one New Orleans family.

    The book is not about the city as a whole or the hurricane or its aftermath to the city itself, but rather about one family who can trace their own history almost as far back as the founding of the New Orleans. The Boisdoré family is tied to the city - there is a recurrence throughout the generations of attempts to leave, only to be drawn back - but when the mandatory evacuations before Katrina were given, Joe (an artist) and Tess (a psychiatrist) pack up and leave with Joe's father (a former artisan furniture maker and current sufferer of some form of dementia), but leave their adult daughter, Cora, alone to brave the storm, while their other daughter, Del, watches the news from her NYC home.

    Something happens during the storm that leaves Cora trapped in her own mind. She won’t talk to anyone about what she saw, she spends most of her days in bed, and wanders from the house in the middle of the night, barefoot, through all the toxic muck left by the storm. Del leaves everything she has in NYC and rushes home to New Orleans without any intention of returning, and their parents separate, the blame they lay on themselves and each other for Cora's reaction only exacerbating years of doubts and tensions stemming, not insignificantly, from their different race and class backgrounds. Tess stays with the girls, and Joe moves into the Boidoré cabin with his father, each dealing with their own personal demons and a heavy dose of denial. The style of the book unfolds the story from each of the characters’ unique points of view, giving us a unique portrait of how they each deal with grief, tragedy, and betrayal.

    Despite the profound depression cast over the plot, there is a sense of perseverance. Like the city after the storm, the Boisdoré family, torn apart and broken, still has the hope and strength to rebuild. Rebuilding will look very different, maybe even more like a re-creation, but it could be better. I liked the metaphor of the family for the city, and the storm for the whole slew of problems the Boisdorés are facing. I loved the use of language and the peek into this family’s lives. That being said, this book is not for everyone. It fits squarely into the Literary Fiction category, which I guess some people don’t like. It’s not a genre book, so it’s not going to follow a formula or give you all the pieces of a neat little puzzle. Like real life, you’re going to be missing certain things when you get to know these people. But it’s a beautifully told story that I enjoyed very much – probably about a 4.5 on the star scale. I rounded to 5 because it deserves it.

    One critique – at the end, there are some phone numbers used for Rome, Illinois (in the central part of the state). The area code in the galley copy was 319, which is actually central Iowa (Cedar Rapids/Iowa City), which also experienced horrific, toxic, home-destroying, thousand-year flood conditions only 3 years after Katrina hit New Orleans. While there were definitely those who lost homes in both floods, I would hate for any of the characters in this book to be connected to both, especially erroneously.

  • Marlena

    Earlier this month I was listening to an interview with Margaret Atwood on the blog Call Your Girlfriend. The interviewer was asking Atwood what she thought about in terms of how eerily prescient The Handmaiden's Tale remains decades after it was written and now made into a television series - and what role dystopias take in fiction as a response to our current political climate. Atwood elaborated (I'm paraphrasing) that for many people, their worlds are always a dystopia, and we just choose to

    Earlier this month I was listening to an interview with Margaret Atwood on the blog Call Your Girlfriend. The interviewer was asking Atwood what she thought about in terms of how eerily prescient The Handmaiden's Tale remains decades after it was written and now made into a television series - and what role dystopias take in fiction as a response to our current political climate. Atwood elaborated (I'm paraphrasing) that for many people, their worlds are always a dystopia, and we just choose to not see it. Those words have stuck with me as hurricanes have made landfall, more rights have been taken away, and millions of Americans live in abject poverty, despite our nation being "rich." For all those people worried about a zombie take-over, we've forgotten that apocalypses happen on - and off - our shores regularly, including the neglect and abandonment of New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina.

    Babst takes us through this time - before the Hurricane falls and after - and her words mold (literally), whip, crack, pummel, and submerge the reader to peer into one family's life and lies. How do we define "place" and where we are in space and time and societal norms, and what happens when we leave place - to flee, hide, and start anew? Pick up this book, hunker down, and emerge with hope and hopelessness.

  • Kate Olson

    This book is not an easy read. It's not a page turner or a nail biter. It's not a story of a strong New Orleans rising after a devastating storm and it's not a story of a family coming together in a time of need. It's a

    This book is not an easy read. It's not a page turner or a nail biter. It's not a story of a strong New Orleans rising after a devastating storm and it's not a story of a family coming together in a time of need. It's a fiercely honest account of a family going through tortured times, both emotional and environmental. It's a story of hearts breaking and a city sinking and the absolute worst that people can do. As you read, you are trapped in the brains of humans who are suffering, both in typical ways and in ways brought about by mental illness and dementia.

    But. But. You also experience the depths of the human condition and the brutal racial divide in the city. You learn about the horrors of a storm most of us haven't experienced firsthand, and to understand is to empathize.

    Is this happy? No. Is it important? Yes.

    If you like dark, ruminative stories about complex social issues, this one's for you. If you're looking for a light, fast-paced adventure story about surviving a hurricane, this will definitely surprise you with its slow and meandering nature and psychological focus.

  • Diane S ☔

    Before, during and after Hurricane Katrina. A family torn apart by the refusal of one daughter to leave with the mandatory evacuation order. Changes and survival. Unfortunately I found the writing style not to my liking, just kind of disjointed and strange. Never really connected to any of the characters nor the storyline, so abandoning after fifty percent. Kept reading, was interested in the subject matter and kept hoping it would draw me in. Accepting defeat!

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