Books & New Orleans
by Marla Norman, Publisher
For over twenty years, Romanian poet and NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu has been writing about his adopted city. In describing his first encounter with New Orleans, he says: “How did we fall in love? At first sight, violently.”
Codrescu’s book New Orleans, Mom Amour is, as the title suggests, a series of love letters to this quirky, often bizarre, but totally delectable city. Collected for two decades, the short pieces describe the author’s daily life experiences, historical reflections, and post-Katrina hopes for the city’s rebirth.
New Orleans Stories, with an introduction by Codrescu, is a superb anthology with an impressive range of authors from William F. Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, and Anne Rice, to Truman Capote and Louis Armstrong. The number and quality of writers the city has attracted over the years is noteworthy. Faulkner wrote his first novel This Side of Paradise in a house on Prytania St. Tennessee Willliams wrote Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in New Orleans and, of course, A Street Car Named Desire is set in the French Quarter. Mark Twain, Truman Capote…the list goes on and on. Codrescu says that in New Orleans, the “official language is dreams…Writers come and eavesdrop and take some of those stories with them, but these are just a few drops from a Mississippi River of stories.”
Codrescu’s own favorite New Orleans titles include these: The Confederacy of Dunces, by John Kennedy Toole “is a kind of primer to the life-speciae new orleansis. But for something rarer and still true, there is The Mysteries of New Orleans by Baron von Reizenstahl, written before the Civil War by an eccentric young German bohemian who lived in the French Quarter.”