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New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writings from the City Paperback – Deckle Edge, January 31, 2006

4.3 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In this lovely collection of very short essays (many two pages long), gravelly voiced NPR commentator Codrescu sketches finely honed portraits of a fabled city and its equally fabled inhabitants. The author, who has called the Big Easy home for two decades, shows how, like some gigantic bohemian magnet, New Orleans attracts some of the world's most talented, self-indulgent freaks. Codrescu finds himself quite at home there. He expertly weaves pages of New Orleans history through his stories of personal discovery and debauchery. The last few essays, written post-Katrina, radiate simultaneous anger and clarity. Full of pride and defensiveness, Codrescu closes the collection ruminating about rebuilding the city and his longing to return to its rhythms and eccentricities. Despite Codrescu's frustrations, this collection is, in the end, gentle and sweet. Readers can't help coming away from reading it without an abiding hope in the ability of ordinary people, under the worst circumstances, rising to whatever challenges they face. (Jan. 6)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

The author is a popular NPR commentator who, although Romanian born, has been a New Orleans resident since the early 1980s. The release of this collection of essays about the city that occupies his heart could not be timelier; in fact, he has included a half-dozen pieces about its post-Katrina state. Two-page commentaries frequently give way to longer ruminations, but whether within a brief or long space, his remembrances and testimonies about the Big Easy, from the point when he arrived to the present day, share heartfelt moments and characters and conditions that are only discoverable in this most exotic of American cities. Crime is ever present, he admits, but he is equally adamant about how lovable a city it is, a place where many people call the phone numbers of the dead and fully expect the deceased to answer. Yes, living with alligators is, as he says, "an acquired taste," but on the other hand, St. Charles Avenue "has to be the most charming boulevard in the world." A place of uniqueness in all forms. Brad Hooper
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books; 47479th edition (January 31, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565125053
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565125056
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #379,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Sometimes it takes someone from elsewhere to really appreciate a place. I have long been a fan of Andrei Codrescu's NPR commentaries and knew that he lived in New Orleans so when I saw this book I knew it would be good. It is. Codrescu, like so many of us who choose our new "hometown" loves everything about New Orleans and sees it with both loving and honest eyes. Like all great lovers he loves the flaws as much as he loves the beauties.

He writes about his years on carnival krews, about hours spent prowling the French Quarter, about Marie Laveau the legendary voodoo queen and other New Orleans characters, about food and the cemeteries where people meet as if they were parks. He writes about not being able to get out of his hammock --- all with wry humor, grace, and appreciation. And he writes with anger about Katrina and its aftermath.

I have only visited New Orleans but love it and was happy to be transported back there through the words of someone who notices everything and sees it honestly. I particularly appreciated some of his literary references. WARNING: this book can cause you to buy a lot more books. But, if you love New Orleans, you will treasure them, too.
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I am a true fan of New Orleans. I read everything I can get my hands on about this city. Andrei Codrescu does an amazing job bringing you right back to this great city. You can almost smell the city as you read it. It is hard to put this book down. This is one of the best books I have ever read about New Orleans, My Love.
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Format: Paperback
"New Orleans is Blache DuBois" the essayist tells us and in a few lines, he gives the evidence for something that we may have suspected. Here is a city that brags about its great literature and then begs you not to read it-or at least not take it seriously. Come buy our life, it says, just don't look at all the death.
And so, unlike many other love songs to particular places, Codrescu's is sad. Perhaps some other cities will evoke the same sense of folly and loss- Venice is a likely candidate-but you can't imagine a similar book about New York or Prague or even Rome.
This is a book of essays whose roots in radio are obvious. You can almost hear them spoken aloud. They are also remarkably personal-the author sees America as a displaced Rumanian-turned-American. The perspective is valuable and he doesn't deny the reader its benefits. Read him following the National Guard as it responds to a flood on the Mississippi near Hannibal, Mo. to be undeceived about us. Read his obit for Jim Monaghan, romantically crusty barkeeper to be gently hoodwinked again.
These are stories about a city, but more fundamentally stories about displacement and encountering one's second home town.
All in all, a great and provocative entertainment.

Lynn Hoffman, author ofbang BANG: A Novel which is set in the author's second home town.
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Contains lots of humor and vivid sensuality of what it's like to live in modern bohemian New Orleans.

If Codrescu wanted to include writing about Katrina and it's aftermath, why leave that for the final few pages? It leaves an otherwise pleasant book on a note of despair and political bitterness. Better to have left this out entirely as it didn't fit the tone of the rest of the book. But that shouldn't dissuade anyone interested in New Orleans and its people and history from reading the first 95%.
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I've been a fan of Codrescu for years through his spoken word bits he's done on National Public Radio (NPR). This is a collection of essays that he's written over a twenty year period about his adopted city of New Orleans, and it is a marvelous read. Codrescu's humor and insight are always sharp, and ordering this collection in this way allows the reader to follow his love affair with the city as it evolves from an initial infatuation to a deep and abiding love (the good and the bad), with the dark, unhappy moments that come with the package. Knowing about hurricane Katrina and post-Katrina New Orleans only serves to make many of his early observations even more relevant and powerful. Codrescu's essays reveal an ever-present awareness, likely shared by his neighbors, that the City was living on the edge of disaster.

I normally recommend reading collections like this in bits and pieces, and, certainly, one could do that, but the coherency of this anthology is so striking that I'd suggest taking it all in as you would a memoir or biography - a memoir is what this anthology turns out to be.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
<b><i>New Orleans is Catholic, pagan, poor, and Bohemian. The music is the Devil's music and we are a cesspool of sin.</b></i>

The Crescent City. If you ever visit New Orleans you will never forget the time you spent there. If I had never visited New Orleans prior to reading <i>New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writings From the City</i>, I would have made my way there as soon as I finished. I'm listening to Second Line music as I type these words.

Codrescu, a Louisiana State University professor, introduced us to the city at ground level. He didn't try to glamorize the city nor did he try to take us on a tour of its most popular places. These essays ranged from the details and familiar faces at the local bar scene to the history of the city's cemeteries and its burying rituals. With each essay, Codrescu takes the reader on a daily walk through the city revealing a hidden treasure each time.

<b><i>Katrina found us dreaming.</b></i>

The world watched New Orleans drown when the levees broke. Codrescu put it this way:

<b><i>We already knew who's going to pay for all this: the poor. They always do. The whole country's garbage flows down the Mississippi to them. Until now, they turned all that waste into song; they took the sins of American unto themselves. But this blues now is just too big</b></i>

New Orleans is my favorite city to visit in literature. <i>New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writings From the City</i> reminded me why New Orleans is and always will be my favorite city.
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