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With Hawks and Angels - Episodes from a Southern Life

With Hawks and Angels

Episodes from a Southern Life

By Joel Lafayette Fletcher III
Foreword by Ann Brewster Dobie
Series: Willie Morris Books in Memoir and Biography

Hardcover : 9781496844699, 256 pages, 65 b&w illustrations, March 2023

A funny, fascinating chronicle of a privileged misfit from Louisiana and the journey for self that took him around the world


With Hawks and Angels: Episodes from a Southern Life chronicles the fortunate life of a man born in the Cajun country of Louisiana and his interaction with the three distinct parts of his home state: the swampy, laissez-faire South where he was born, the red clay hills and piney woods of northern Louisiana where his relatives lived, and exotic New Orleans, where he was educated.

Author Joel Lafayette Fletcher III examines his childhood on the campus of what is now the University of Louisiana at Lafayette where his father, Joel Lafayette Fletcher Jr., was president for twenty-five years, to his time as a student at Tulane. The book follows Fletcher through his service as a naval officer—when he began to admit to himself, accept, and explore who he really was—to his life in Europe and, eventually, Virginia where he now resides. With Hawks and Angels intimately explores the life of a young man growing up in the racially segregated Deep South while coming to terms with being gay at a time when being out was not socially acceptable.

Based on his personal journals and recollections and filled with the unique characters he met along the way, With Hawks and Angels is the culmination of writing that, for Fletcher, was a way of holding onto an important part of his true self that for many years he felt compelled to hide.


"Joel Lafayette Fletcher III’s memoir is a moving account of the emotional journey of a young, white southern boy battling the changing social currents of the last sixty years of the twentieth century."

- Michael Wade, professor emeritus of history at Appalachian State University

"Joel Fletcher’s memoir contains artists and actors and eccentric people of many kinds, and almost all of them have made the world a better place. This is a grand book, not only for its expansiveness, but for its appreciation of differences in people, whether in Paris or New Orleans. If you love the arts, if you love people, you'll love this book."

- James Lee Burke, Guggenheim Fellow and author of Every Cloak Rolled in Blood

"Rich and complex as gumbo, yet told with welcoming ease, the stories in With Hawks and Angels meander from the bayous of Louisiana to the hallowed halls of the Uffizi. In the end, we come to know a man who had the quiet bravery to defy the conventions of his southern roots to forge a life of his own, all while honoring the history that shaped him."

- Cory MacLauchlin, author of Butterfly in the Typewriter: The Tragic Life of John Kennedy Toole and the Remarkable Story of “A Confederacy of Dunces”

"This is a charming and thoughtful narrative that pleases with its honesty and humor. For those of us old enough to remember the era in which it is set, it brings back poignant memories. For all readers it charts the course of a life marked by the desire to live fully and deeply."

- from the foreword by Ann Brewster Dobie, author of Voices from Louisiana: Profiles of Contemporary Writers

"I wish this book was written twenty years ago so my younger self could see what someone from Lafayette could offer the wide world. For Fletcher, it was all beautiful and magical. . . . This book will make you wonder about your most authentic self and beckon it to come out amongst the hawks and angels."

- Toby LeBlanc, Southern Review of Books