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Feet on the Street: Rambles Around New Orleans (Crown Journeys) [Kindle Edition]

Roy Jr Blount
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $9.99
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

“Betcha I can tell ya / Where ya / Got them shoooes. / Betchadollar, / Betchadollar, / Where ya / Got them shoooes. / Got your shoes on your feet, / Got your feet on the street, / And the street’s in Noo / Awlins, Loo- / Eez-ee-anna. Where I, for my part, first ate a live oyster and first saw a naked woman with the lights on. . . . Every time I go to New Orleans I am startled by something.”

So writes Roy Blount Jr. in this exuberant, character-filled saunter through a place he has loved almost his entire life—a city “like no other place in America, and yet (or therefore) the cradle of American culture.” Here we experience it all through his eyes, ears, and taste buds: the architecture, music, romance (yes, sex too), historical characters, and all that glorious food.

The book is divided into eight Rambles through different parts of the city. Each closes with lagniappe—a little bit extra, a special treat for the reader: here a brief riff on Gennifer Flowers, there a meditation on naked dancing. Roy Blount knows New Orleans like the inside of an oyster shell and is only too glad to take us to both the famous and the infamous sights. He captures all the wonderful and rich history—culinary, literary, and political—of a city that figured prominently in the lives of Jefferson Davis (who died there), Truman Capote (who was conceived there), Zora Neale Hurston (who studied voodoo there), and countless others, including Andrew Jackson, Lee Harvey Oswald, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Jelly Roll Morton, Napoléon, Walt Whitman, O. Henry, Thomas Wolfe, Earl Long, Randy Newman, Edgar Degas, Lillian Hellman, the Boswell Sisters, and the Dixie Cups.

Above all, though, Feet on the Street is a celebration of friendship and joie de vivre in one of America’s greatest and most colorful cities, written by one of America’s most beloved humorists.

Also available as a Random House AudioBook

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this brief walking tour of New Orleans, Blount (Robert E. Lee; Be Sweet) spins an atmospheric, pleasantly meandering tale about a city he clearly knows and loves. Rather than offer up the standard guidebook-style list of things for tourists to do, Blount divides the book into eight "rambles," because "New Orleans is my favorite place in the world to ramble. Even on those deep-summer days that make a person feel swathed in slowly melting hamfat." Blount's yarns will make readers want to visit the city, soak up the mood and create their own memories. Even something as simple as a rain shower reads like a possible adventure: "It can rain so hard in New Orleans that you expect to see alligators bouncing off the pavement ... Also dramatic in their way are the soft showers of the early evening, sometimes arriving spookily in full sunshine from no clouds at all." Of course, even the most unconventional guide to the Big Easy would be incomplete without a mention of the city's food, and Blount devotes an entire ramble to raw oysters, which he says "give you a coolish inner lining collateral to the sheen that New Orleans humidity gives your skin." Blount's New Orleans isn't sugar-coated; it's at times wistful, melancholy and even dangerous. But all this combines to give the reader the impression that anything can happen in New Orleans, which is precisely the author's point. Those looking for a nontraditional portrait of this unconventional city will be delighted by Blount's colorful, almost tender account.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Blount, a well-known humorist, commentator, and biographer (Robert E. Lee 2003), contributes to the Crown Journeys series of travelogues an example of the best kind of travel-reading experience: when good writers perambulate through and around places they know and understand, and, in Blount's case, that place is the city of New Orleans. His observations and descriptions of interesting places within the city and his reflections on general and specific attitudes to be found there are both celebratory ("the best town for eating in America") and honest ("the city is hardly a model of racial harmony"). He makes several stops in his guided tour, taking time to ponder such topics as the frightening fact that New Orleans lies below sea level, the constant feel of wetness from the persistent rain and humidity, eating raw oysters as a "rite of passage," and, of course, the superabundance of characters--eccentric individuals who seem drawn to the Crescent City like moths to the flame. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Product Details

  • File Size: 234 KB
  • Print Length: 144 pages
  • Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1400046459
  • Publisher: Crown (February 1, 2005)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B000FC2RK4
  • Text-to-Speech: Not enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #824,621 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The New Orleans I Remember and Love November 22, 2005
This book, a walking tour of the Big Easy, is another installment in the publishers' Crown Journeys. For me, it was a trip back to a city that I love and that means so much to me.

It's all here, from beignets at Cafe du Monde to the street kid who approaches the obvious out-of-towner with this line: "Betcha' I can tell you where you got your shoes?" In between we stroll through the sex and sin of Bourbon Street and the verdant splendor of Audubon Park and the Garden District.

This book will suffer, of course, due to some unbelievably bad timing for the author and the publisher. Still, I found this read to be like visiting with an old friend. The New Orleans depicted in this slim volume is the one I remember and love, the one I believe will soon be again. In spite of the destruction and death of Hurricane Katrina there is fresh hope: Cafe du Monde began serving coffee and chickory again after the longest delay of business in their 150 history. Also, the American Library Association announced days ago that they will go ahead with plans to shop the Crescent City for their annual meeting.

The opening and ending of the book, with its ominous foretelling of the Big One and what it would do to the city wasn't enough to chase me away from the laughs to be found within. I'd tell most anyone to pick this book up.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Glimpse Inside October 10, 2005
I love New Orleans, but only know it as an infrequent visitor. I love to read books about New Orleans for more in depth, inside information. That is just what the author offers in this compact book. He offers up the flavor, the mixed history, the impressions you'd get walking down street of one of the most well-known, least understood cities. The author doesn't offer justification or explanation, he just tells it like he has experienced it. I like it that way.
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17 of 22 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not For Everyone March 30, 2005
Roy Blount, Jr. chose a slightly different approach in this latest addition to Crown Journeys' travelogue series. Instead of a straight forward description of New Orleans' attractions, Blount takes the reader on an "emotional" journey by tying various locations to memories of his time spent in the city. When it works, it is very evocative in portraying New Orleans' distinctive character. In those successful passages, one can almost feel the humidity dripping off the page and smell New Orleans' unique scent. However, when it doesn't work (like in the chapter about some of the "friends" Blount remembers), it comes off as self-indulgent drivel. The result is a very uneven book.

For those whose recollections of New Orleans weren't influenced too strongly by alcohol, Feet on the Street will bring back good memories of arguably the most distinct city in the United States. Still, even those who have a familiarity with New Orleans may have trouble relating to some of Blount's musings. Those who have no familiarity with the city will probably not enjoy the book, simply because they won't be able to put a frame of reference to the places Blount mentions. Consequently, readers trying to discover New Orleans' special qualities via the written word should probably pass up Feet on the Street.
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23 of 31 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars offensively inaccurate April 23, 2005
I was willing to ignore glaring errors in this book such as Voodoo not being capitalized as with any religion, the statement that Marie Laveau the second was the famous Voodoo queen (when it was actually the first, her mother), calling a sno-ball a snow-cone... so many details. I was willing to ignore all of these pretty huge mistakes until I read what he had to say about my former employer and place of employment on pages 80 and 140.

If he'd bother to ask a few questions, he may have discovered that these highschool band kids often run into "cheesy clubs" such as the Tropical Isle and steal money off the bar. He may have discovered that the "fat white man" who ran out of the bar to "shoo" (trust me when I say Mr. Earl does not shoo anyone) these poor unfortunates away is a champion of local music and culture. That when he found out that the Chicken Man's (local character who used to sell incense to the bartenders and tourists and who earned his moniker by biting the heads off live chickens in a 1950's nightclub act) ashes were sitting on a shelf in a local funeral home because his daughter couldn't afford to pay for the cremation, he paid not only for the ashes, but a full funeral complete with a second line that had Bourbon street immobilized for the entire day. That the Handgrenade man is usually someone that he's rescued from homelessness by giving him a job that pays well, the opportunity for promotion and often an apartment. That his employees stay with him for years and not only because of the high pay, medical, dental, 401k and life insurance he pays a great deal of money for. That the Tropical Isle has hosted as regular performers the likes of Timothea, Jon Gros and Al Miller.

Instead, he chose to imagine a sterotypical greedy white Southern man victimizing the downtrodden youth of color.

Oh and the Handgrenade is not "an icky concoction of rum and sweet syrups." It is quite tasty and hasn't a drop of rum in it.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nostalgia for the New Orleans Veteran February 15, 2005
I never thought a 'travel book' could make me laugh and nod in agreement. Maybe this isn't really a travel book after all.

Blount captures what the city is really like in an almost poetic way from the architecture to the food to the people to the smell. It's all one big intertwined experience; Blount's writing style reflects this making "Rambles Around New Orleans" the perfect subtitle.

The read is a very reflective and visual one and if you haven't been to New Orleans, you may miss the beauty of some of Blounts descriptions. For instance, much of one's experience in New Orleans derides from the group of friends brought along or made there. Chapter ("Ramble") 7 entitled Friends is something of a recount of how different individuals impacted the author while in New Orleans. If you hadn't been to New Orleans and realized that how much you like the city depends on who you were with; you may miss the point of this chapter because it is deliberately only implied.

This book is the best description of New Orleans I know. With that in mind, it's not for everyone. Blount speaks to the reader as a New Orleans veteran. Having some memories of New Orleans makes this read come alive.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars "Feet on the Street". It's more important than you might first think!
Don't visit the Crescent City without first reading this offering from the great Roy Blount, Jr.! He guides you clear of the tourist "traps" and steers you straight toward... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Pete Andrews
5.0 out of 5 stars wonderful companion to the big easy
Roy Blount jr's conversational and personal vignettes make a compelling read for first time visitors and frequent Traveller's to the crescent city. Highly recommended.
Published 3 months ago by Elizabeth Cutler
4.0 out of 5 stars The Voice of New Orleans
I ran into Roy Blount Jr. in a small used bookstore on Dauphine Street in the French Quarter. Immediately afterwards I downloaded this book. Read more
Published 9 months ago by Kelly Malone
5.0 out of 5 stars New Orleans Revisited
Having traveled to New Orleans twice (in different company), it was great to revisit familiar places through the mind's eye, and to benefit from Roy Blount, Jr. Read more
Published 15 months ago by Nancy Lepage
2.0 out of 5 stars Walk Away
While not the worst book on New Orleans I've every read, it sure is close. The book is comprised of seemingly random self-centered stream-of-conscious ramblings. Read more
Published 16 months ago by RDU_Rhen
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, sweet and interesting
Roy Blount, Jr. is a lovely writer, and his rambles on New Orleans are the perfect tour of this strange, hot, shadowy and delicious old city.
Published 17 months ago by K. Cole
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended
Best CD...this is a funny, heart-warming compilation of stories and antidotes about New Orleans and the South. Author/narrator's voice is priceless!
Published on December 3, 2009 by R. Boyd
4.0 out of 5 stars Nice little read
This little book is lovely to read, especially as a recent New Orleans transplant. It gives you lots to look out for and go dig up in the city. Read more
Published on August 16, 2009 by lindsay james
4.0 out of 5 stars Comfort Readind
Roy Blount Jr. is a fantastic author with a great sense of humor and a very creative story telling language. Read more
Published on March 11, 2009 by Eric Ray Moss
4.0 out of 5 stars A great listen and read
I own the book and the CD. This book takes you right down the streets. Roy Blount Jr. makes you feel like you are right there with him. This really makes you smile. Read more
Published on August 13, 2006 by GR
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