What is the meaning of a place like that, and what is lost if it is lost?
The winds of Hurricane Katrina, and the national disaster that followed, brought with them a moment of shared cultural awareness: Thousands were killed and many more displaced; promises were made, forgotten, and renewed; the city of New Orleans was engulfed by floodwaters of biblical proportions—all in a wrenching drama that captured international attention. Yet the passing of that moment has left too many questions.
What will become of New Orleans in the months and years to come? What of its people, who fled the city on a rising tide of panic, trading all they knew and loved for a dim hope of shelter and rest? And, ultimately, what do those people and their city mean to America and the world?
In Why New Orleans Matters, award-winning author and New Orleans resident Tom Piazza illuminates the storied culture and uncertain future of this great and most neglected of American cities. With wisdom and affection, he explores the hidden contours of familiar traditions like Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest, and evokes the sensory rapture of the city that gave us jazz music and Creole cooking. He writes, too, of the city's deep undercurrents of corruption, racism, and injustice, and of how its people endure and transcend those conditions. And, perhaps most important, he asks us all to consider the spirit of this place and all the things it has shared with the world—grace and beauty, resilience and soul. "That spirit is in terrible jeopardy right now," he writes. "If it dies, something precious and profound will go out of the world forever."
Why New Orleans Matters is a gift from one of our most talented writers to the beloved and important city he calls home—and to a nation to whom that city's survival has been entrusted.
The Things They Carried won France's prestigious Prix du Meilleur Livre Etranger and the Chicago Tribune Heartland Prize; it was also a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
Whatever Gets You through the Night is an irreverent and deeply funny retelling of the Arabian Nights and a wildly inspired exploration of the timeless art of storytelling. Award-winning writer Andrei Codrescu reimagines how Sheherezade saved Baghdad's virgins and her own life through a heroic feat of storytelling--one that kept the Persian king Sharyar hanging in agonizing narrative and erotic suspense for 1001 nights. For Sheherezade, the end of either suspense or curiosity means death, but Codrescu keeps both alive in this entertaining tale of how she learned to hold a king in thrall, setting with her endless invention an unsurpassable example for all storytellers across the ages. Liberated and mischievous, Codrescu's Sheherezade is as charming as she is shrewd--and so is the story Codrescu tells.
Thankfully for us, he hasn't. In The Devil Never Sleeps, one of America's shrewdest social critics sets out to uncover the Devil's most modern and insidiously banal incarnations. Once easily recognizable by his horns, tail, and propensity for plague, today's Devil has become embedded in every fiber of our culture. Discussing everything from rock 'n' roll to William Burroughs to New Orleans bars to the Demon of Prosperity, Codrescu mockingly unmasks Old Nick as the opportunistic technocrat he really is. Embracing cell phones, cable access, and cyberspace, the ubiquitous Devil of secular culture embodies the true evil facing us today--banality.
In a world teeming with distractions, we are still more than capable of being bored to death. Tormented as much by insomnia and its ravages as the Devil (perhaps they are one and the same), we've become as twenty-four-hour society, swinging desperately between tedium and terror and sleeping fitfully, if at all. As Codrescu points out, the Devil never sleeps because we just won't let him.
With his characteristic charm and playful exuberance, Andrei Codrescu has successfully teased the Devil out from the darkest recesses and comic excesses of the human experience. The Devil Never Sleeps is his most wonderfully perverse book yet.