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Do You Know What It Means To Miss New Orleans? Paperback – August 28, 2012
This month's Book With Buzz: "Stranger in the House" by Shari Lapena
In this neighborhood, danger lies close to home. A thriller packed full of secrets and a twisty story that never stops - from the bestselling author of "The Couple Next Door." See more
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About the Author
Toni McGee Causey has a three-book deal with St. Martin's Press. The first book, "Bobby Faye's Very (very very very very very) Bad Day," about a pissed off Cajun beauty queen, is due out in spring 2007. Toni writes the blog Electric Mist, at www.electricmist.net. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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This collection of post Katrina writings is a necessary read for anyone living in exile, apart from their nurturing Crescent City...whether it's due to a hurricane, economics, or just because. The brilliance of it is this....the construction of the collection that Rutledge has designed gives you a "Jazz Funeral" for the city....to allow you to grieve not so much it's loss (it's still there obviously) but it's temporary loss in your life as you live elsewhere.
The beginning is sad, tear wrenching, will make you cry in public if you read it in public. Like the funeral slowly processing from church...the band playing a low dirge...the family crying into handkerchiefs. The middle is ritual. Almost testimonies. Not cold...but something that must be done...the service at figs grave. The end....oh the end....the band strikes "Didn't He Ramble".... The family realizes their departed is at peace, victorious, and reminisces hopefully & joyously about, not a death, but a life well lived....the hankies are now in the air...as we march hopefully into what life brings us...knowing one day we will be reunited. The afterward isn't one..it's appropriately called a lagniappe...and in true New Orleans fashion it is all a lagniappe should be...unexpected, not really a logical fit, fun & funny, & leaves you with a sense of happiness so profound you smile to yourself & the tears now come from a happy peace.
Thank you for creating this. Or, more appropriately, "Mr. Rutledge....Yeah you right!!"
The anthology, structured like a jazz funeral, includes essays by Jason Berry and Toni McGee Causey as well as reproductions of nineteenth century prints of the city.
The book feels rather like a diary, full of reminiscences on life in New Orleans before, during and after Katrina. Just after the preface, there is a list of census data from 1900 and 2000, along with a map of the city showing where the events in each chapter took place. The publishers have been unafraid to take a different approach to the book's content and diversify the style of its presentation: throughout there are 19th century engravings of the city, recipes for local dishes and the words to turn of the century Creole songs. As well as adding the excitement of never letting you know what you will find on the next page, these lyrical vignettes remind you of the city's history and cultural heritage at a crucial time when what hasn't already been swept away by the storm threatens to be destroyed by the corporate greed of `reconstruction' that will come in its wake.
Above all, this book is about hearing a wide variety of voices telling different stories. It is an incredible feeling to read all their outlandish tales and know they are actually true. On the other hand, in among these recollections there are other true stories that fill you with rage: Barbara Bush praises the fact that all these poor people are suddenly finding a better life as refugees and FEMA's Michael Brown receives an email from his press secretary telling him to roll up the sleeves of his shirt like the President so as to look more hard working.
It is a beautifully made book and a joy to hold, something I truly appreciated when the often shoddy mass production of books has taken away any sense of personal touch. The disaster that brought these writers together for this volume should never have been allowed to happen, and yet I am very happy that this book was published and I strongly recommend it. Having suffered such catastrophic negligence, New Orleans needs this kind of attention to detail.