Review: The Upstairs Lounge Arson – Clayton Delery -

Upstairs Lounge Arson
Paperback: 216 pages
Publisher: McFarland (June 5, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0786479531
ISBN-13: 978-9780786479535
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Details the fire, subsequent deaths, and lives involved in the Up Stairs Lounge Arson.


On June 24, 1973 in New Orleans Louisiana, an even occurred that the majority have not heard of. A gay bar caught fire, and 32 lives were lost. But what were the events that led up to this horrific event? Author Clayton Delery-Edwards takes us through that time period in a very honest look.

Mr. Delery-Edwards gives us a look at those 32 who died, some gay, some straight allies. He delves into the political climate of the time. The Fire department actually provided a more detailed case against the perpetrator than did the police. The police it seemed didn’t seem to care, it was just a bunch of gays.

This though, was a very difficult book for me to read. At times, it was so heart-wrenching, that I had to put it aside. But it also didn’t match what I thought going on. While I thought before reading it, that these people were murdered due to their sexuality, it appears that it was not the case.

The book is peppered throughout with historical photographs from the fire, and before the fire. Please note though, that some of the images may not be for the squeamish. However, for me they really helpd bring the whole story and case to reality.

A lot of the book reads more like a true-crime novel than a historical memoir. I found myself, despite the initial emotional turmoil enjoying that aspect of it. The author pulled from police reports, fire reports, newspapers, and personal interviews in providing a clear view the days prior to and preceding the fire.

With Pride Weeks happening all around the country, I felt that it was important to bring attention to this subject. There are still many areas of the country, where crimes against the gay community occur without any penalty, and with little to no concern by those in charge.

If you are a fan of history, are interested in LGBT history, or just want a great look into a crime that was never truly “solved”, then you will enjoy this book. So check it out, drop back by and let us know what you thought of it.

About the Author

Clayton Delery-EdwardsClayton Delery-Edwards is a native of Louisiana who grew up in the New Orleans area. He has a B.A. and an M.A. in English from the University of Louisiana, Lafayette, as well as a Ph.D. from the Graduate Center of the City University of New York. Since 1989 he has been a member of the faculty of the Louisiana School for Math, Science, and the Arts, where he currently serves as the Director of Academic Services. He has been interested in the fire since seeing the first news coverage in 1973. He married his husband, Aaron, in a Canadian ceremony in 2008. They live in Natchitoches, Louisiana, with their two dogs, several chickens, and a pond full of gold fish.

*Disclaimer* A special thanks goes out to Kristal Hamby at for a review copy of this book. It in no way influenced my review. You can discuss it here or join my facebook page and discuss it there.