ELADATL: A History of the East Los Angeles Dirigible Air Transport Lines by Sesshu Foster and Arturo Romo / ISBN 9780872867703 / 328-paperback from City Lights
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
"Poet Foster 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
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.