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1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina Paperback – August 21, 2007

78 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1416552987 ISBN-10: 1416552987 Edition: Reprint

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The physical and psychic dislocation wrought by Hurricane Katrina is painstakingly recollected in this brilliant collection of columns by award-winning New Orleans Times-Picayune columnist Rose (who has already hand-sold 60,000 self-published copies). After evacuating his family first to Mississippi and then to his native Maryland, Rose returned almost immediately to chronicle his adopted hometown's journey to "hell and back." Rose deftly sketches portraits of the living, from the cat lady who survives the storm only to die from injuries sustained during a post-hurricane mugging, to the California National Guard troops who gratefully chow down on steaks Rose managed to turn up in an unscathed French Quarter freezer. He's equally adept at evoking the spirit of the dead and missing, summed up by the title, quoting the entirety of an epitaph spray-painted on one home. Although the usual suspects (FEMA and Mayor Ray Nagin, among others) receive their fair share of barbs, Rose's rancor toward the powers that be is surprisingly muted. In contrast, he chronicles his own descent into mental illness (and subsequent recovery) with unsparing detail; though his maniacal dedication to witnessing the innumerable tragedies wrought by "The Thing" took him down a dark, dangerous path ("three friends of mine have, in fact, killed themselves in the past year"), it also produced one of the finest first-person accounts yet in the growing Katrina canon.
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From Booklist

Hurricane Katrina boosted Rose's career and damn near destroyed his life. A columnist for the Times-Picayune, Rose wrote disarmingly direct, funny, and fully loaded essays about the horrific aftermath of the storm, the terror and loss, injustice and irony. An intrepid explorer of the wreckage, Rose chronicles the decimated city's horrible smell, daunting debris, and Twilight Zone atmosphere. Rose jokes about how Survivor should have been set in New Orleans and tells jaw-dropping and heartwarming stories about chance and stoicism, brutality and heroism. Readers love and rely on his column, which earns him a Pulitzer, and when he self-publishes a collection of his essays, it promptly sells 65,000 copies. But as a conduit for all the sorrows of the lost city, Rose experiences a catastrophic inner storm and candidly reports on his plunge into depression. This frank and compelling collection combines Rose's original book with later dispatches from hell covering all of 2006 and adding up to vivid and invaluable testimony to the true repercussions, public and personal, of the devastation of a city. Seaman, Donna

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 364 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; Reprint edition (August 21, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416552987
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416552987
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (78 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Chris Rose is a columnist for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, an essayist for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and a frequent commentator for National Public Radio's Morning Edition. In 2006, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Commentary in recognition of his Katrina columns and was awarded a share in the Times-Picayune staff's Pulitzer for Public Service. Rose lives in New Orleans with his three children.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

55 of 59 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Huston on February 3, 2008
Format: Paperback
There are times when I sit and wonder, Am I crazy? Am I crazy?, especially when I look at the state of modern America these days. Back in 2005 I watched with the rest of us the terrible storm that swept over New Orleans, and the knowledge that something truly awful was going to happen. With it came the knowledge that there was going to be damn little that any of us could do about it either.

People being plucked from rooftops by helicopters. Water up to the roofline. Trees, cars, and everything else -- including the dead -- floating in water that crawled with god only knew what. The real horror came a little later, when it was realized that many did not survive, abandoned in the mad rush to get to safety. That's what shook me up the most; it wasn't the looting or violence, but that we, America, had left the disabled and elderly to die in their homes.

Writer Chris Rose, a commentator with the Times-Picayune in New Orleans, has collected his columns from the newspaper into a book that takes a hard look at the Crescent City, and what life was like after Katrina left. He talks about what it's like to come home and find your house gone. Or what it's like to drive along the street and see household contents piled up on the edges. Or that nary a rat was to be seen for weeks after the hurricane. Most chilling for me was the description of bodies, or the messages scrawled on homes mentioning the number of dead that were within. And finally, The Smell that engulfed everything for weeks afterwards, a stench that crawled into everything as trash decomposed.

They say that writing can help to heal the effects of trauma.
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27 of 28 people found the following review helpful By K. G. Schneider on August 26, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Chris Rose was a Pulitzer nominee for his post-Katrina writing. I was glad to see the Times-Picayune snag some well-deserved Pulitzers, but sad that Nicholas Kristof (however much I like his columns) edged out Rose.

In any event, this is a stand-out collection of columns--really, in most cases, very brief essays.

When I first read the book, in a small-press edition, it stayed with me for days. No matter what else I was reading or doing, I saw the people Rose writes about, sitting on door stoops, calling him "baby" in grocery stores, struggling to rebuild after the unthinkable, taping up their stinking refrigerators. In his stories about trying to raise children, battling depression, and yes, refrigerators, Rose makes it clear that the hurricane was an event, but Katrina is a condition New Orleans struggles with every day.

A year later, this book is now available in a new, expanded edition. One or two essays are a little over-sentimental, but never mind. This is an amazing book. (Read it alongside, or after, "Breach of Faith.") Rose's direct prose and grim, funny, heart-ful imagery make this book essential reading for any caring person, and a must for library collections.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Judy Young on August 12, 2007
Format: Paperback
Friends in the New Orleans area recommended this book. I LOVED it. Then I gave it to my husband and my sister and they loved it too. Written by a reporter from the New Orleans Times Picayune newspaper, who was there during those awful early days of the aftermath. I was there 3 months after Katrina and met locals who shared stories similar to his. The book is engrossing and sad but, believe it or not, it's actually funny in some parts. Chris Rose tells his story beautifully. This is a book people from New Orleans will give to their grandchildren to explain what it was really like after Katrina.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By David Zimmerman VINE VOICE on January 4, 2008
Format: Paperback
The most personal book I've read about Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath in New Orleans is this collection of newspaper columns from New Orleans Times Picayune writer Chris Rose. Proving that living somewhere involves more than occupying a house there, Rose seemingly suffers the trauma of all New Orleanians, even though his own house and family endure essentially no damage from the storm (other than a four-month relocation of wife and children to Maryland). The title refers to words painted on the side of a house as a message to recovery crews. More than a year after the storm, the words are still on that house.

Along with chronicling Rose's personal journey, the book serves a second purpose of telling the stories of dozens of other New Orleanians and "The Thing", as Rose calls Katrina. Among my favorites is the guy who collects magnets off the thousands of abandoned rerfigerators to cover his truck. Rose waxes poetic and fantastic along the way. You'll love "Refrigerator City" and maybe even his rants about Mayor Ray Nagin's "Chocolate City" comment (the column about breakfast with God and Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of a kind.)

This second edition is a combination of the popular shorter first edition and a second book initially intended to be published separately as "Purple Upside Down Car" (a phrase taken from Rose's young son noticing one of the many destroyed cars around the city).

My only complaint with the book is with its somewhat haphazard organization. The book is organized into several subsections and is for the most part chronological, but often not. Still, the columns within each subsection don't necessarily fit together that well.
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