A memoir of life in the “lowest part of Louisiana…arguably the wettest, wildest, and freest part of the country.”

Lourd, now an investment banker in Los Angeles, grew up in a place so remote that even his Cajun neighbors called it “the country,” a bit of raised land in the middle of the world’s largest freshwater swamp, pieces of which had been sold over the years to pay off gambling debts. The author’s father, muscle car at the ready and beer can in hand, had a few such debts himself. “Dad was a betting man, like his father before him,” Lourd writes, and a born salesman who understood that the key to being successful is to roll with the punches when rejection arrives, as it always does. The author writes with affection and sympathy for his father, his mother, and the ways of the South, from pulling on a cold beer with professional wrestling blaring in the background to tearing down a dirt road in a “1972 purple-and-black Dodge Super Bee Charger.” Yet, if all men seek to understand their fathers, all boys have to break away from them at some point or another. Lourd’s break had the usual fraught qualities, with a few twists of fate along with a few bittersweet words of wisdom along the way. The author, suffice it to say, survived his sentimental education, and some of his notes are solid. He writes affectingly of boys looking for guidance to men who were lost, weren’t sure of the way, or “instinctively held to the truth that trudging through the fertile, teeming marsh of life was path enough.” However, some of the book seems like a cross between Dr. Phil and The Dukes of Hazzard as filtered through a country song (“Dad was drunk and I watched him sway”).

There’s not a lot of art here, but there’s plenty of heart and intelligence.