Books: My New Orleans: Ballads to the Big Easy by Her Sons, Daughters, and LoversWhy I am recommending this book:
My New Orleans gives those people who call New Orleans home, a way to pay tribute and to remember. For those of us who do not know New Orleans, it is an opportunity to learn.
This book is a beautiful tribute to a city that many will fight to preserve. While it is unlikely that New Orleans will ever be what it was, what it can become will inevitably be informed by the heart and soul of its past.
The New Orleans of legend might be gone, but it's not forgotten, as evidenced by this reverential anthology of poems and essays by current and former Big Easy residents and a number of artist-types who have visited and departed, but remain infatuated. James, co-founder of the New Orleans-based Pirate's Alley Faulkner Society, keeps the selections brief but beguiling: There are tributes to food, of course, "the very best food, ingenious dishes created from a poor people's basics: beans, rice, okra, fish, crabs, oysters, shrimp, peppers, garlic, onions, file..." Ella Brennan, owner of Commander's Palace, writes of the education she received in that venerable New Orleans institution. Paul Prudhomme of K-Paul's Louisiana Kitchen recalls his experiences in the restaurant business and the influences the city has had on him: "It nudges you to be what you need to be." Wynton Marsalis, Charmaine Neville and writer Christopher Rice pay homage to the city's rich music history and libertine philosophy. But barely heralded here are the darker things for which New Orleans is famous: corruption, voodoo and violence. By addressing these aspects, James might have given depth to this sentimental work, a charming but incomplete look at a beloved American city.