I came late to understanding post-Katrina New Orleans, because I didn’t visit the city again until last winter. But Chris Rose’s collection of essays “1 Dead in Attic” retains its immediacy. Here was essentially a lifestyle columnist one of the few standing–broadcasting from the belly of the beast. It tells you the power of being a trained observer. And the limits–Rose descends into a breakdown, addiction, and divorce.
The dedication says it all: “This book is dedicated to Thomas Coleman, a retired longshoreman, who died in his attic at 2214 St. Roch Avenue in New Orleans’ 8th Ward on or about August 29, 2005. He had a can of juice ad a bedspread at his side as the waters rose. There were more than a thousand like him.”
Which takes me to “Treme”–the wonderful HBO series. My New Orleans informant who recommended it said–it starts three months after Katrina, or as you can see, it might be three years…” Lacking television, I watched the first series all at once, with its elaborate weaving and back weaving of plot worthy of a nineteenth century novel. There is a lot to like–not to mention the music–but the thing I might have found the hardest to understand is the self-destruction of writer/intellectual Cray. However, having read “1 Dead in Attic” I saw it coming.
Of interest to writers, the book was originally self-published. Of interest to us all, the opening quote from Judy Deck: “If there was no New Orleans, America would just be a bunch of free people dying of boredom.”