A breathtaking free fall into the long-buried (and fictional) history of a utopian era in American lighter-than-air travel, as told by its death-defying, aero-acrobatic heroes.
In the early years of the twentieth-century, the use of airships known as dirigibles—some as large as one thousand feet long—was being promulgated in Southern California by a semi-clandestine lighter-than-air movement. Groups like the East LA Balloon Club and the Bessie Coleman Aero Club were hard at work to revolutionize travel in the pre-apocalyptic Southwest, with an aim to literally lift oppressed people out of racism and poverty.
ELADATL tells the story of this little-known period of American air travel in a series of overlapping narratives told by key figures, accompanied by a number of historic photographs and recently discovered artifacts, with appendices provided to fill in the missing links. The story of the rise and fall of this ill-fated airship movement investigates its long-buried history, replete with heroes, villains, and moments of astonishing triumph and terrifying disaster.
Written and presented as an "actual history of a fictional company," this surrealist, experimental novel is a tour de force of politicized fantastic fiction, a work of hybrid art-making distilled into a truly original literary form. Developed over a ten-year period of collaborations, community interventions, and staged performances, ELADATL is a furiously hilarious send-up of academic histories, mainstream narratives, and any traditional notions of the time-space continuum.
Praise for ELADATL
"Hold this infra-surreal, no-surreal, under-realm account (in gyroscopic fashion and thru various sightings re-dacted and questionable dialogues, voice pepperings) of our fast approaching Kaliyuga. Multiple reincarnated figures appear (Lee Harvey Oswald, Tina Lerma, and Elmer Fudd, CIA Agent). Not to mention truish photos of things. Live things! Be mindful of the encyclopedic plethoras aimed at your pineal glands. Woe are those that are not privy to the East LA Dirigible Transport Lines (buzzing over you at this very critical moment in our wild lives)—here is the evidence in your febrile hands. Power, Culture, Text, Bhaktin, are in a clash Hip-Hop—in a Marvin Gaye 'What's going on?' As stated in these investigations: 'The Poet of the Universe will stand on her or his balcony as night falls and consider her or his options.' Mind-crushing consciousness blasting artefactos of our dissolving propellers. Viva Sesshu Foster! I bow to you!"—Juan Felipe Herrera, Poet Laureate of the USA, 2015-2017
"Sesshu Foster's second novel ELADATL: A History of the East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines is not some preciously honed theoretical tale scripted as an abstracted warriors' syllabus, but instead, it gives a powerful account of a curious quotidian revolt that accompanied the East LA Balloon Club and the Bessie Coleman Aero Club rife with the contradiction that singed their arcane thriving. This novel not only explores the actual quest for physical elevation, but, more significantly, with the complication of inner elevation, attempting to rise above a circumstance studded with racism and looming financial debacle. Mr. Foster's novel magically inscribes the trenchant character of an opaque and transitional zeitgeist."—Will Alexander, author of Kaleidoscope Omniscience