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My New Orleans, Gone Away Hardcover – July 9, 2013


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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

The contributions of the Wolf family to the cultural and commercial life of New Orleans went back five generations by the time Peter was growing up in Metairie, just outside the city. Despite their deep roots, Jews were still outsiders to the country clubs as well as the powerful social organizations behind Mardi Gras. Peter’s parents, somewhat disengaged from Jewish culture, seemed relatively unfazed by anti-Semitism as they managed a glittering life. Peter followed his father to Yale but, drawn to the Jewish roots he found among his East Coast friends, wanted a different life for himself. After years of struggling to resist the charm of New Orleans and the appeal of a comfortable career in his father’s firm, he finally made peace with his southern heritage. A noted urban policy expert and architectural historian, Wolf offers a loving and beautifully written portrait of New Orleans in the 1950s and 1960s as well as beautifully rendered memories of New Haven, New York, and Paris in this journey of self-discovery and tribute to his roots. --Vanessa Bush

Review

"I adore this book and read it in a kind of dreamy fog, unable to put it down and think of anything else. It strikes just the perfect note for a New Orleans memoir, smart and graceful, with the affectionate heart of a native son and the clear eyes and keen intelligence of a scholar of cities. And it's a very brave book, coming from a man who's struggled and taken the risks of his passions. What a lovely way Peter Wolf has found to reconcile his past and present selves." -Susan Larson, The Reading Life, WWNO, NATIONAL PUBLIC RADIO FOR NEW ORLEANS.

"A noted urban policy expert and architectural historian, Wolf offers a loving and beautifully written portrait of New Orleans in the 1950s and 1960s as well as beautiflly rendered memories of New Haven, New York, and Paris in this journey of self-discovery and tribute to his roots." - Venessa Bush, Advanced Review for BOOKLIST

Peter Wolf's book is a charming, insightful memoir, which is beautifully written and descriptive of what it was like to grow up Jewish in New Orleans in the mid-20th century. Peter's journey is worth reading for those who enjoy memoirs steeped with interesting people, places and experiences. - Scott Cowen, President, Tulane University.

A heartfelt, intimate, and painfully honest account of the coming of age of one shy boy  and of the exotic city he left behind, but will never forget. A story of the courage of breaking away and the "you are there" descriptions of places and people that make the reader part of this narrative of struggle and triumph. -Barbara Goldsmith, author of Obsessive Genius: The Inner World of Marie Curie, and Historian. -

Peter Wolf has planned communities, and written meaningfully about the importance of place, for much of his life. In New Orleans: Gone Away, you realize where it all comes from, and how powerfully the aura of New Orleans has influenced everything he has done. Wolf's story is personal and intimate, yet addresses something that matters to every one of us: the compelling theme of home, and how all of us are shaped by it.
-Paul Goldberger, Pulitzer Prize winner and author of Why Architecture Matters.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Delphinium; Second Printing edition (July 9, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1883285569
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883285562
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.8 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (45 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #604,267 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author



For more biographical information and details about prior books go to www.petermwolf.com.

Peter M. Wolf is a nationally recognized author, land use expert, and investment advisor.
The author of six previous books, his new memoir My New Orleans, Gone Away, captures the fabled town of his youth and delves into the aspirations, expectations and disappointments of his post-war generation. The narrative incorporates themes of identity, love, and longing bound into the story of his family, education, romances and career. Celebrated author and historian Barbara Goldsmith has praised My New Orleans as "A heartfelt, intimate, and painfully honest account of the coming of age of one shy boy and of the exotic city he left behind, but will never forget." Sidney Offit calls it "the triumph of a memoirist with the eye of an architect and the heart of a poet."
A Yale, Tulane and New York University graduate, after earning a Ph.D., Wolf was elected Chairman of the Institute for Architecture and Urban Studies in New York, and appointed Adjunct Professor in the School of Architecture at Cooper Union. Over the years he has earned a Fulbright Fellowship, received honors, awards and grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Ford Foundation, the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts, and twice been selected a Visiting Artist/Scholar at the American Academy in Rome.
Wolf's philanthropic activities began immediately after college when he served as a trustee of the New Orleans Public Library and the fledgling New Orleans educational television station. More recent commitments include Founder and first Chairman of the Thomas Moran Trust, and trustee in East Hampton of Guild Hall and the Village Preservation Society. He is a past Chairman of the Van Alen Institute and served as an advisory board member of the National Academy of Design.
His hobbies, avocations and digressions include playing tennis, making watercolors, traveling to remote places, biking, canoeing, and kayaking.

Customer Reviews

4.0 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By H. P. on July 11, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
If you're looking for a memoir about Katrina, this is not the best place to look. Despite the connotation the "Gone Away" in the title carries with it, Katrina is only briefly addressed in the epilogue. The second half of the title more likely refers to Wolf, who leaves New Orleans (apparently for good) near the end of the book. What he does write about Katrina he writes well, although he is very right that "[t]he enormity of the destruction and the scale of the tragedy were too vast to be captured by even the most skilled photographer or journalist."

Most of the book takes place in the 40s (the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor when Wolf was 6), 50s, and 60s. Title notwithstanding, only about half the book takes place in New Orleans. We follow Wolf as he wrestles at Exeter (by my math he just missed John Irving there), wrote at Yale (becoming buddies with Calvin Trillan), made an abortive attempt at medical school, and after a sojourn back in New Orleans moves to New York to pursue a PhD in architectural history (he became enough of an authority to hobnob with the Menils in Houston).

I thoroughly enjoyed the above, though, and the New Orleans sections were as rich as the food. Wolf is old enough that people from New Orleans were still going to weekend houses in Pass Christian to escape the danger of yellow fever. Wolf's parents were distant and seemingly enjoyed partying more than parenting. Despite a family local commercial empire, his people were locked out of the city's power structure--Mardi Gras Krewes--because they were Jewish. Acme Oyster, Café du Monde, and Galatoire's (especially Galatoire's) are frequent haunts. He lived in New Orleans when it was more bohemian than tourist trap.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Retro Guy on July 9, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Just a beautiful evocation of time and place, childhood and adulthood. Regrets? Some. An appreciation of the joys of life. Lots! A wonderful, beautifully-written memoir. Peter M Wolf takes us from New Orleans to New England to Europe and back again. My New Orleans is a peaceful, thoughtful book for noisy times.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Judith Spencer on July 14, 2013
Format: Hardcover
My New Orleans, Gone Away by Peter Wolf is a charmer - partly a love song to a city where he grew up as an assimilated Jew in a highly respected family, yet felt the barriers of being "other". This is a thirty year saga, a coming of age story, told with unusual frankness. Wolf reluctantly departs from New Orleans to gradually find his path to success in New York via Exeter, Yale, and Paris. At times the journey is tinged with sadness, yet triumphs in the end, as he discovers his talents, and ultimately pays tribute to his New Orleans roots. The intimate, well paced writing style captures the reader from the beginning, and leaves one wanting more of this multifaceted, gifted man.

Judith Chatfield
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Neil Erwin on August 14, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A unique perspective of New Orleans, different from most people who remember growing up in New Orleans, but sincere and beautifully written. It is as much a story of Mr. Wolf, as much, if not more, than New Orleans. There are gaps in the story, both personally and historically, and the reader will come away with many unanswered questions. The vignettes of local restaurants, department stores, and cultural landscapes are rich in small details that could only have been written by someone capable of noticing and remembering the smallest things that are soon forgotten by most. Best of all, Mr. Wolf, as he immodestly describes himself in the book, is simply a great story teller. His fellow Southern writers known to have sojourned in New Orleans would be proud to have him share a table at the Napoleon House Bar. My reaction after finishing the book was a big thank you for both the historical gifts from his family tree and the wonderful memories brought to mind for those of us fortunate enough to have spent time in this wonderful city. Thank goodness it lives again.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By ruthjoec on August 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover
When I first saw the book cover and title I figured this was another "how things are different since Katrina" book. If you read the above summary, you'll see that it is not. Rather, it is the memoir of an old man. I made it half-way through before calling it quits. Frankly, if you have no connection with New Orleans, the first half will mean little to you. Wolf included long lists of people he knew and with whom he associated. The names mean something to me; being in the legal business, I'm familiar with many of the old New Orleans names. I know the streets Wolf mentions and the school he attended.

You might also like it if you want to remember your days at Yale, or if you wonder about life at Yale in the 1950's. Wolf tells us in great detail about his dorm room, joining the student newspaper, and joining exclusive clubs.

Peter Wolf was raised as a non-observant reform Jew in suburban New Orleans. The biggest social event his parents hosted every year was a Christmas party--the the rabbi was a regular guest. He talks about his complete lack of religious belief and about how he, as a rich Jewish man, was discriminated against because he was not allowed to join the Carnival Krewes populated by the rich Uptown crowd.

Basically, the book has too much detail about things that are of little interest to me--some would have been interesting but I'd say the book is at least twice as long as it should be and there were a couple of times I think I read basically the same paragraph on different pages.

Still, if you are looking for a picture of a particular time in New Orleans' history as viewed by a wealthy secular Jew who had deep roots in the community at large, this may be just what you are looking for.
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