1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina

( 21 )

Overview

1 Dead in Attic is a collection of stories by Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose, recounting the first harrowing year and a half of life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Celebrated as a local treasure and heaped with national praise, Rose provides a rollercoaster ride of observation, commentary, emotion, tragedy, and even humor—in a way that only he could find in a devastated wasteland.

They are stories of the dead and the living, ...

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Overview

1 Dead in Attic is a collection of stories by Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose, recounting the first harrowing year and a half of life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Celebrated as a local treasure and heaped with national praise, Rose provides a rollercoaster ride of observation, commentary, emotion, tragedy, and even humor—in a way that only he could find in a devastated wasteland.

They are stories of the dead and the living, stories of survivors and believers, stories of hope and despair. And stories about refrigerators.

1 Dead in Attic freeze-frames New Orleans, caught between an old era and a new, during its most desperate time, as it struggles out of the floodwaters and wills itself back to life.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"The Crescent City's bard"
— Harry Shearer, The Huffington Post

"These are impressionistic cries of pain and mordant humor...they so aptly mirrored the sense of surreal dislocation experienced by New Orleanians that they turned Rose into a voice of the tortured city."
— Ken Ringle, The Washington Post Book World

"The most engaging of the Katrina books...packed with more heart, honesty, and wit...Rose was more interested in telling the searing stories of his shattered city than assigning the blame for its demise..."
— Michael Grunwald, The New Republic

Publishers Weekly

The physical and psychic dislocation wrought by Hurricane Katrina is painstakingly recollected in this brilliant collection of columns by award-winning New Orleans Times Picayunecolumnist Rose (who has already hand-sold 60,000 self-published copies). After evacuating his family first to Mississippi and then to his native Maryland, Rose returned almost immediately to chronicle his adopted hometown's journey to "hell and back." Rose deftly sketches portraits of the living, from the cat lady who survives the storm only to die from injuries sustained during a post-hurricane mugging, to the California National Guard troops who gratefully chow down on steaks Rose managed to turn up in an unscathed French Quarter freezer. He's equally adept at evoking the spirit of the dead and missing, summed up by the title, quoting the entirety of an epitaph spray painted on one home. Although the usual suspects (FEMA and Mayor Ray Nagin, among others) receive their fair share of barbs, Rose's rancor toward the powers that be is surprisingly muted. In contrast, he chronicles his own descent into mental illness (and subsequent recovery) with unsparing detail; though his maniacal dedication to witnessing the innumerable tragedies wrought by "The Thing" took him down a dark, dangerous path ("three friends of mine have, in fact, killed themselves in the past year"), it also produced one of the finest first-person accounts yet in the growing Katrina canon. (Aug.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416552987
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publication date: 8/21/2007
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 170,150
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Meet the Author

Chris Rose is a columnist for The Times-Picayune in New Orleans, an essayist for The NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and a frequent commentator for National Public Radio's Morning Edition. In 2006, he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Distinguished Commentary in recognition of his Katrina columns and was awarded a share in the Times-Picayune staff's Pulitzer for Public Service. Rose lives in New Orleans with his three children.

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

Writing an introduction for a book like this is tricky business.

Intros I have read over the years are generally composed of personal anecdotes and references to the body of work that follows. But, in this case, what follows is the personal work, the veil pulled away, the soul of a city — and a writer — laid bare.

Newspaper reporters are used to covering death and disaster — it's our bread and butter — but nothing prepares you to do it in your own town. Usually, we parachute into trouble, fill our notebooks, and then hightail it back to the comfort of our homes and offices.

Katrina changed all that.

Our comfort zones disappeared, turned into rubble, wastelands, and ghost towns. I went from being a detached entertainment columnist to a soldier on the front line of a battle to save a city, a culture, a newspaper, my job, my home.

Whether we won or lost the war remains to be seen. New Orleans is still a work in progress. The observations, lamentations, and ruminations that follow are the story so far, as it unfolded to me in the first sixteen months after the flood.

It's probably too emotional for conventional newspaper work. Too sentimental. Too angry. And way too self-absorbed, particularly for someone who weathered the storm remarkably well — in a material sense, at least (I suffered a broken screen door and a loose gutter) — and whose career not only survived the storm, but actually thrived in the aftermath.

I got a book deal, a movie deal, a Pulitzer Prize, dinner with Ted Koppel, and a mention in the social column of The Washington Times. If that ain't Making The Grade, then I don't know what is.

Natural disasters are a good career move for a man in my line of work.

But you didn't have to lose your house, your car, your dog, your job, your marriage, or your grandparents in an attic to suffer the impact of this storm. Unfortunately, most folks around south Louisiana and Mississippi did lose some or all of this.

Others lost less tangible assets: their peace of mind, security, serenity, ability to concentrate, notions of romance, sobriety, sanity, and hope.

The toll it took on me is in the book; I'll not belabor it here other than to say Katrina beat the shit out of me. It beat the shit out of everyone I know. This is our story.

In the winter of 2006, I self-published a collection of my post-Katrina columns from The Times-Picayune, a slim volume of love letters to New Orleans, howls of protest, cries for help, and general musings on the surrealistic absurdities of life in a post-Apocalyptic landscape.

I called it 1 Dead in Attic, a phrase I saw painted on the front of a house in the city's 8th Ward; words that haunted me then, and haunt me still.

Within six months, I ran through five printings of the book, collected great reviews from publications large and small, and sold 65,000 copies. I'm a neophyte in the world of independent publishing, but I'm told that's a real good number for a self-published volume. In fact, it's a good number for any volume.

And that's how the book came to attention of Simon & Schuster. I was preparing a follow-up to Dead in Attic, another collection of stories that I was going to call The Purple Upside-Down Car, a declarative observation my four-year-old son made from our car during a tour of the Lower 9th Ward that I clung to as the perfect metaphor for the whole of New Orleans and not just some wasted, toppled vehicle lying in a field of debris down on — get this — Flood Street.

The irony in this place could kill you.

Simon & Schuster bought the rights to Dead in Attic and the as-yet-unpublished Purple Upside-Down Car and we put them together and that's what you're holding in your hands. Faced with two titles but only one book, we went with the former because it already has brand recognition and because, well... the other one kind of sounds precariously like a Dr. Suess book.

This book takes the reader up to New Year's Day, 2007. A lot has happened since then, to the city, to me. On the eve of publication, I split with my wife of eleven years and went to rehab for an addiction to prescription painkillers, which I turned to in my ongoing struggles with anxiety and depression.

It would be easy to lay this blood on the hands of Katrina, though there is more, much more, to the story.

There always is.

But I guess that's the next chapter, the next story. The next book.

— Chris Rose

New Orleans, June, 2007

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Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction

Who We Are

Early Days

Facing the Unknown

The First Time Back

Survivors

Life in the Surreal City

Hope

Rita Takes Aim

The Empty City

God and Strippers

The More Things Change

Enough to Feed an Army

Tough Times in the Blue Tarp Town

Blue Roof Blues

The Smell

The Elephant Men

Mad City

1 Dead in Attic

Despair

The Ties That Bind

My Introduction to New Orleans

The Funky Butt

The Hurricane Kids

Traveling Man

Have Barbie, Will Travel

Prep Boys and Jesuits

Good-bye

Groundhog Day

Coming Home

Life in the Refrigerator City

Civil Unrest

Refrigerator Town

Lurching Toward Babylon

The Cat Lady

Caving In

The Magnet Man

The Last Ride

Lights in the City

Let the Good Times Roll

Our Katrina Christmas

Tears, Fears, and a New Year

Misadventures in the Chocolate City

Chocolate City

Tutti-Frutti

He Had a Dream

He's Picking the Pairs for Nola's Ark

Rider on the Storm

Car 54, Where Are You?

Not in My Pothole

Survive This

Love Among the Ruins

September Never Ends

The Muddy Middle Ground

Misery in the Melting Pot

The End of the World

A Huck Finn Kind of Life

Our Very Scary Summer

Songs in the Key of Strife

The End of the Line

We Raze, and Raise, and Keep Pushing Forward

Echoes of Katrina in the Country

The Purple Upside-Down Car

Second Line, Same Verse

Don't Mess with Mrs. Rose

Shooting the Rock

The City That Hair Forgot

A Rapturous Day in the Real World

Big Daddy No Fun

Peace Among the Ruins

Artful Practicality

"She Rescued My Heart"

Miss Ellen Deserved Better

Things Worth Fighting For

Rebirth at the Maple Leaf

Melancholy Reveler

They Don't Get Mardi Gras, and They Never Will

Reality Fest

Love Fest

O Brothers, Where Be Y'all?

Funeral for a Friend

Thanks, We Needed That

Say What's So, Joe

A Night to Remember

Eternal Dome Nation

Falling Down

On the Inside Looking Out

A City on Hold

A Tough Nut to Crack

Hell and Back

Letters from the Edge

Where We Go From Here

Children of the Storm, It's Time to Represent

Thank You, Whoever You Are

A New Dawn

Acknowledgments

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 21 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 21 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 3, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    BUY THIS NOW

    This is one of the most touching, heart breaking and inspiring books I've read in a long time. I suggest it for anyone with the slightest amount of curiosity about what happened during Hurricane Katrina. Please read.

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  • Posted October 25, 2008

    more from this reviewer

    Chris Rose touches your heart with this book

    Chris lets you into the world of New Orleans after Katrina. His humor, compassion and love of his city make you realize that we must support and rebuild this wonderful city. Each chapter tells a different story and at the end of the book you are wanting more.<BR/><BR/>God bless Chris for sharing his life after Katrina.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 5, 2008

    Laugh and Cry

    This book is a very accurate thought process of what we were all thinking in the aftermath of Katrina. We didn't really know whether to laugh or cry at some situations. Didn't do any good to cry, so we just plugged along. Chris Rose gave a very humanistic view of our frail state at that time. At times I cried while reading his descriptions and sometimes I laughed out loud or grinned and those around me understood why when I read it outloud to them. I sincerely enjoyed this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 7, 2008

    At times as powerful as Katrina herself...

    This collection of columns by Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose chronicles with heartbreaking detail the impact of Hurricane Katrina on the city of New Orleans and on Rose himself. As with all anthologies, the entries are uneven in both tone and quality. Some will elict a chuckle, some a shrug and too many will leave you with tears welling up in your eyes. But on balance this book eloquently captures the lingering delicate balance that exists in post-Katrina New Orleans between hope and despair. The introduction written by Rose is important as it briefly touches on the toll the storm and the job of covering this story took on him and his family. I imagine that his personal troubles are like many thousands of others. It is a potent and compelling book that I would strongly recommend to everyone especially people travelling to New Orleans.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 10, 2008

    The only book on Katrina Id tell a friend to read.

    Only a person who lives in New Olreans and loves New Orleans could write a book like this. If you really wanna know what it was (and is) like there after 'it', read this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 12, 2008

    A reviewer

    This book is an accurate description of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. If anyone wants an idea of what New Orleans and the surrounding area was like this is it. Chris Rose has done an excellent job at describing the tragedy we endured and are still enduring yet he does it with class. He just tells things as he seen/witnessed/experienced it. This description is accurate without being grotesque, although he could have been. Anyone from New Orleans should read this, this is about our city, our history, our lives. I cry and laugh at this truly amazing book.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2008

    A reviewer

    I read this book in 2 days. It is the best post-Katrina book I've seen so far. It's a chronicle of the days and months after the storm that only a local could really put into words. It was both sad and laugh out loud funny at times. It's a must read for anyone who wants to get a glimpse of how the people from New Orleans really feel about their devestated hometown and why we stay.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2007

    A Local Voice Given to a Local Disaster A++++

    If you love New Orleans, this is the book to read!On my first visit back to NOLA after Katrina, I was told by a local that this was the definitive voice of how New Orleanians have felt after Katrina, so I made it a point to read this book as soon as I returned. I am so glad I did. Everyone who loves New Orleans - and even those who do not - should read this book instead of listening to those who think THEY know New Orleans (politicians, FEMA, etc...). Thank you, Chris Rose. REBUILD NEW ORLEANS!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 8, 2007

    Poignant and Astonishingly Funny

    Can't praise this book enough, it chronicles real life in New Orleans from the day after the storm. This book was assigned to incoming freshman at Tulane University this fall, and it certainly surprised many with it's personal eye-witness account of a great city under extreme conditions. Very well written, insightful, powerful while at the same time striking the perfect chord between pathos and giddy insanity that is New Orleans - - - full of the charm and characters the flood couldn't scour away - - - like he said, you can't make this stuff up. Most helpful is the author's clear discription of where and why the system failed America's greatest city and why the rest of us should care. Also explores the issue of coping with depression when everyone else you see is suffering from the same. This is a treasure of a book and I plan on giving it to all my friends for Christmas. It's just incredible.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 5, 2007

    THE best book to read about H. Katrina

    You won't learn how little storms off the coast of Africa become overblown hurricanes in the Gulf of Mexico, or the effect the Bermuda Low has on the late summer weather of south Louisiana. But you will experience life in New Orleans post-K despite inept governments at all levels and the recently (about 2 yrs.) completed federal levee 'protection' system in the city.

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