Eladatl: A History of the East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines (Paperback)
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.
Foster and Romo's 'real fake dream' of the future-past history of the East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines is a superb and loving phantasmagoria that gobbles up real histories for breakfast and spits out the seeds.--Jonathan Lethem, author of Motherless Brooklyn
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, 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 derring-do 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.
Poet Foster (Atomik Aztex) and artist Romo deliver a maddeningly accomplished inquiry into the secret history of East Los Angeles. . . . This is as much fun to read as it must have been to make.--Publishers Weekly, Starred Review
One of the wildest, most creative and deeply-cutting novels I've read in years, a genuine piece of newness in both content and form. To wade through this surreal narrative archeology is to experience, in the finest sense, literature as fever dream.--Omar El Akkad, author of American War: A Novel
Visionary, hilarious, anarchic, this assemblage of breakneck dialog, blisteringly brilliant film criticism, bureaucratic documents, revolutionary chatter, mass transit, and fake dreams of the secret police, is the counterfactual novel to beat all counterfactual novels.--Mark Doten, author of Trump Sky Alpha
Hilarious and prophetic and profound, truer than truth, and realer than all realities currently available for purchase, ELADATL is strong medicine against the erasures of history, a mega-vitamin for struggles yet to come. This book combats despair.--Ben Ehrenreich, author of Desert Notebooks: A Road Map for the End of Time
About the Author
Sesshu Foster has taught composition and literature in East L.A. for 20 years. He's also taught writing at the University of Iowa, the California Institute for the Arts and the University of California, Santa Cruz. His work has been published in The Oxford Anthology of Modern American Poetry, Language for a New Century: Poetry from the Middle East, Asia and Beyond, and State of the Union: 50 Political Poems. His most recent books are Atomik Aztex, a novel; World Ball Notebook, poetry; and City of the Future, poetry (2018). He lives in Alhambra, CA.Arturo Ernesto Romo-Santillano was born in Los Angeles, California in 1980. His artwork, mostly collaborative mixed media works but also drawing, has been circulated internationally. Fluency, agency and folly are central themes in his practice; he sees his artwork as a companion multiplier, folding folds, netting nets. His art-making is pushed through explorations on the streets of East and North East Los Angeles, which feed into an ongoing series of collaborations with writer Sesshu Foster. He lives in Alhambra, CA.