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Tuesday, May 27, 2008

1 Dead in Attic by Chris Rose

One of the books that I read while on maternity leave was 1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina by Chris Rose. As you can probably tell by the title, this was about Hurricane Katrina. Rose is an award-winning writer for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and chronicled the aftermath of the hurricane in it's pages. This book is a collection of his columns spanning the next 18 months or so. He addresses the death, the smell, the expectations, the mayor, the New Orleans Saints, Mardi Gras and, near the end, depression and PTSD, and everything else.

I feel odd saying this was a great book. It seems a little cruel to enjoy a book about such a tragedy. However, it's a very readable book. Since it began life as a series of newspaper columns, it's written in a very conversational way. You can imagine Rose sitting there and telling you these things over coffee. Rose is very open about his own life and how he was directly impacted. His family evacuated and his house was not lost and he doesn't pretend otherwise. He does, however, take you on a tour of the areas that were devastated.

Rose addresses the topic of how people can go on over and over. Why have Mardi Gras? Why celebrate the return of the N.O. Saints? Why spend money to rehabilitate small businesses instead of building homes and streets? All of these things are directly tied to the morale of the city. New Orleans is a city people love. It has a personality and a character all it's own and those who live there are invested in recovering that feeling. At times it seems an uphill battle and near the very end of the book Rose includes this editorial about his depression following the hurricane. I found this particular one, and the one that immediately followed it in the book to be very powerful. I highly recommend that anyone who loves New Orleans pick this one up.

This is the second book I've read about New Orleans post- Katrina lately. The first was fiction (The Tin Roof Blowdown) and this is non-fiction. I have a soft spot in my heart for Anne Rice's The Witching Hour. Does anyone have any suggestions for other New Orleans flavored reading, fiction or non-fiction?

Review also posted at We'd Rather Read.

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