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Stone Motel - Memoirs of a Cajun Boy

Stone Motel

Memoirs of a Cajun Boy

By Morris Ardoin
Series: Willie Morris Books in Memoir and Biography

Hardcover : 9781496827722, 280 pages, 14 b&w illustrations, April 2020
Paperback : 9781496849533, 280 pages, 14 b&w illustrations, September 2023

Dispatches from the childhood of a Louisiana son raised in a roadside motel


In the summers of the early 1970s, Morris Ardoin and his siblings helped run their family's roadside motel in a hot, buggy, bayou town in Cajun Louisiana. The stifling, sticky heat inspired them to find creative ways to stay cool and out of trouble. When they were not doing their chores—handling a colorful cast of customers, scrubbing motel-room toilets, plucking chicken bones and used condoms from under the beds—they played canasta, an old ladies’ game that provided them with a refuge from the sun and helped them avoid their violent, troubled father.

Morris was successful at occupying his time with his siblings and the children of families staying in the motel’s kitchenette apartments but was not so successful at keeping clear of his father, a man unable to shake the horrors he had experienced as a child and, later, as a soldier. The preteen would learn as he matured that his father had reserved his most ferocious attacks for him because of an inability to accept a gay or, to his mind, broken, son. It became his dad’s mission to “fix” his son, and Morris’s mission to resist—and survive intact. He was aided in his struggle immeasurably by the love and encouragement of a selfless and generous grandmother, who provides his story with much of its warmth, wisdom, and humor. There’s also suspense, awkward romance, naughty French lessons, and an insider’s take on a truly remarkable, not-yet-homogenized pocket of American culture.


"Its details impressive, Stone Motel is a layered memoir, both nostalgic and forthright in recalling family struggles. "

- Laura Leavitt, Foreword Reviews

"One of the three best gay biography books of all time"


"Morris Ardoin knew he had to escape the hostile world into which he was born before he could find himself as a gay man. He succeeded in this quest, only to discover, as this brave, complex memoir makes clear, that his past remains an inextricable part of the person he has become. "

- Daniel Burr, The Gay & Lesbian Review

"Focusing on tradition, family, and food, Morris Ardoin’s Stone Motel will resonate with those searching for personal identity in an unaccepting time or place. Intensely personal and incredibly emotional, there is a sense of victory in his survival."

- Valerie J. Andrews, School of Communication and Design, Loyola University New Orleans

"Stone Motel is much more than a memoir; it is a meditation on the intersection of place and identity. Ardoin elevates the classic coming-of-age story to an art form with authenticity and wisdom, all the while never wandering too far from his Cajun roots."

- Frank Perez, author of Treasures of the Vieux Carré and other books about New Orleans

"One can categorize this memoir as a queer coming-of-age story; however, to limit your understanding of this book to just that theme short-changes the scope of Ardoin’s story. This is a book about work, family, grieving, and finding yourself, and your freedom, that will resonate with a broad range of readers. If you’re looking for something good to read, cher, try this one."

- Rachel Lutwick-Deaner, Southern Review of Books