Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans

Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans

4.3 44
by Dan Baum

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BONUS: This edition contains a Nine Lives discussion guide.

Nine Lives is a multivoiced biography of a dazzling, surreal, and imperiled city, told through the lives of night unforgettable characters and bracketed by two epic storms: Hurricane Betsy, which transformed New Orleans in the 1960s, and Hurricane Katrina, which nearly destroyed it. Dan


BONUS: This edition contains a Nine Lives discussion guide.

Nine Lives is a multivoiced biography of a dazzling, surreal, and imperiled city, told through the lives of night unforgettable characters and bracketed by two epic storms: Hurricane Betsy, which transformed New Orleans in the 1960s, and Hurricane Katrina, which nearly destroyed it. Dan Baum brings the kaleidoscopic portrait to life, showing us what was lost in the storm and what remains to be saved.

Editorial Reviews

Thomas Mallon
Aware of journalism's failure to reimagine New Orleans as it had been before the hurricane, Baum has written a splendid book that is two-thirds prologue. The winds and waters of Katrina don't begin battering the nine lives he puts on display until the reader is past Page 200, by which time his characters and their city have been realized in all their generosity and folly.
—The New York Times Book Review
Jason Berry
…a spiritual saga strikingly different from [Baum's] magazine reporting. He says little about the political dynamics of Katrina and submerges his own voice as he weaves the experiences of nine New Orleans residents into a sinuous narrative. His technique brings to mind Robert Altman's film "Nashville," cutting between short scenes and longer vignettes from the lives of people who rarely intersect…I applaud Baum's shimmering portrait of the city. He adroitly moves his subjects through parades, prison, divorces, sex changes, fancy balls and gun brawls—yes, the stuff of life here—showing New Orleans as a magnetic, enduring force.
—The Washington Post
Dwight Garner
…at about Page 65, something very real clicks in Nine Lives. The small, stray, unobtrusive details that Mr. Baum has been planting along the way begin coming together and paying off, like a slot machine that's begun to glow and vibrate. By the final third of Nine Lives, as the water begins pouring into the Lower Ninth Ward of New Orleans, I was weeping like an idiot in the coffee shop where I was reading…Nine Lives may be this young year's most artful and emotionally resonating nonfiction book so far, and for that, to Mr. Baum, a belated New Year's toast.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Reporter Baum (Citizen Coors) arrived in New Orleans two days after the levees broke after Hurricane Katrina. He admits his initial accounts of the disaster were flawed, but with this captivating collection of nine linked profiles, Baum has rectified what he claims was his narrow interpretation of events. "While covering Katrina and its aftermath for the New Yorker, I noticed that most of the coverage, my own included, was so focused on the disaster that it missed the essentially weird nature of the place where it happened." Baum begins the narrative with the 1965 battering of the Ninth Ward by Hurricane Betsy and concludes in 2007. He captures the essence of the city "through the lives of nine characters over 40 years, bracketed by two epic hurricanes," people such as Billy Grace, the king of Carnival and member of New Orleans' elite; Tim Bruneau, the city cop haunted by images of Katrina's destruction; and transsexual JoAnn Guidos, who finds a home and, following Katrina, a sense of purpose. Baum, an empathetic storyteller, has nearly perfectly distilled the events, providing readers with a sensuous portrait of a place that can be better understood as "the best organized city in the Caribbean rather than the "worst organized city in the United States." Baum's chronicle leaves readers with a bittersweet understanding of what Americans lost during Hurricane Katrina. (Feb.)

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Ronald Lewis

deslonde street

Ronald Lewis walked past one ruined cottage after another. Miss Hattie Guste's yellow bungalow with the gingerbread trim wore mildew like a three day stubble on a drunk man's chin. The Moseses' place seemed to have been dredged in slime like a piece of useless garbage. Miss Odette's immaculate cottage had become a spooky old hollowed-out skull. Miss Pie's swaybacked shotgun was knocked clean off its bricks so that the porch seemed to be kneeling in the mud. These were Ronald's sacred places, he now realized; he'd been in and out of these houses his whole life. Desecrated they were. Thoughtlessly trashed.

Ronald had seen bad luck before. Houses caught fire, men lost their jobs, children drowned in the canal. Each time, neighbors had given the stricken a bed for the night or a few dollars' help, offering strong backs and consolation. This time, though, bad luck had carried its bucket of bitterness through every house on every block, ladling an equal dose to all. How was anybody to rise out of it, with nobody left unhurt to lend a hand?

Ronald Lewis was fourteen years old, and he'd finally encountered a force of nature more powerful than his mom.

Rebecca Wright was born on the Abbey Sugar Plantation in Thibodaux half a century after emancipation, but not so you'd know the difference. She came up in one of dozens of identical unpainted shacks alongside a cane field, carrying water on her head from a communal pump and listening to her uncles being beaten for the crime of being too sick to work. She had her first baby, Walter, at thirteen, put him on her hip, and lit out for New Orleans. There, she married a quiet man named Irvin Dickerson and had four more children.

When Ronald was born to Rebecca's troubled niece Stella Mae in 1951, Rebecca took him, swaddled in a Charity Hospital blanket, and folded him in with her own born five, becoming the only mama he would ever know. She took him down to the tidy house Irvin had built her, across the canal in the Lower Ninth Ward.

Life across the canal was heaven for newcomers from the country. The lots were jungly—big enough for chickens, pigs, and even horses. The streets were made of rolled pea gravel and crushed oyster shell: easy on bare feet. Neighbors understood each other. You took care of your family, sat on your porch in the evening, and went to church. No need for all that parading in the street like the city people and the Creoles on the other side of the canal. None of that fancy dressing up and drinking until all hours. It was the best of both worlds for Rebecca—a quiet country life right there by the good waterfront jobs. Irvin worked close by in the sugar factory. When a banana boat was in, the whole neighborhood smelled sweet, and it was bananas in the bread pudding, banana cream pies, and fried bananas for breakfast all week long.

By the time Ronald came, big brother Walter was off at sea with the merchant marine, but the compact house on Deslonde Street was still plenty crowded. Ronald shared a room with Irvin Junior and Larry; Dorothy and Stella shared one down the hall. When they got around the kitchen table every evening, it was all shoulders and elbows. They ate eggplants, corn, and tomatoes from the garden, and eggs from their chickens. Mama bought flour, rice, and grits by the twenty-five-pound bag and, for breakfast, baked biscuits this high before everybody got up; they'd sop them in cane syrup poured from big cans. Dorothy, thirteen years older than Ronald, had a good job by Lopinto's Restaurant and brought home sacks of fishbacks that still had plenty meat on them. The family would crowd into the kitchen late at night, rolling the fishbacks in cornmeal, frying them crisp, and sucking off the flaky white meat, while Mahalia Jackson sang from the radio.

Cousins showed up often from Thibodaux, looking for a better life in the city. Ronald knew times when five or ten might be packed into the house, covering the living room floor at night like dead soldiers, standing around the table at mealtimes, spooning up Mama's rice and gravy, and talking in plantation accents that struck his ear like music. They'd tell of hog killings, alligators long as Cadillacs, and hot pones sticky with molasses. Everybody would be shouting and laughing until Rebecca, standing over the stove with her spatula, hushed them all by snapping, "When I die, do not bring me back to that place."

She created for Ronald a tiny, exquisitely textured world, like one of the snow globes that Walter brought home from sea. Ronald didn't cross a street on his own until first grade, and even then the known universe extended but a few blocks. She would send him as far as the dago's on Claiborne Avenue with a nickel for a stick of butter, but she'd spit on the floor and say, "That better not be dry when you get back." There was laundry to stomp in the bathtub and run through the wringer, a garden to hoe, chickens to feed, and always plenty of dishes—Lord help Ronald if he left them in the draining board. If word came up the street that he'd failed to say good morning to Mr. Butler or Miss Pie, Mama would send him out back to cut her an alder switch "as long as you are" and wear him out with it.

Dad passed when Ronald was eleven, and it was left to Mama to see to it he come up a man. She watched from the screen door the day husky Euliss Campbell came round to bully, and called Ronald inside. "Either you beat that boy," she said, "or I'll beat you." From that day on, Ronald was more likely to get a whipping for not fighting than for fighting; she'd rather have him bruised than fearful. As for the white world, she'd come home from doing day work for the white ladies a block away on Tennessee Street and tell him: Look how I do. I do their work, but I don't sing and dance for them.

Mama was only five feet tall but solid as brick, and she strode his world like a colossus. But on the night of September 9, 1965, Hurricane Betsy whipped in across the Lower Ninth Ward, and Ronald watched her confront something bigger than she was. They all huddled together on the couch, screaming to drown out the wind, feeling the shudder and crack of their wooden bungalow in their bones, keeping their eyes on the TV till the room went black and the picture shrank to a glowing pinpoint. Then came the pop and hiss of the oil lamp and its pale yellow halo. Larry banged through the front door, voice cracking, "Water in the street!" and a dark parabola emerged under the door and stretched across the living room—Ronald would remember that as long as he lived. They crossed Deslonde Street, shoulder deep in inky black water, faces bent low to the stinging wind, and clawed their way up the steps to the Alexanders' second floor apartment. When Ronald awakened in the sunshiny calm of the morning and looked out the window, there was the roof of their home poking through a shimmering floor of green water and a family of mallards swimming calmly around it. Mama, sobbing on the Alexanders' sofa, looked to Ronald half her normal size.

The weeks after Betsy were a miasma of heat, discomfort, and irritating little injuries from exposed nail heads and sharp linoleum edges as the family struggled to set the house right—gobbling cold suppers on the porch, sitting hunched up on nail barrels. Mama never stopped moving, as though standing still would allow despair to reach up through the floorboards and drag her under. It was usually well past dark when she'd turn off the hissing oil lamp and they'd retreat across the canal to rented rooms at the Crescent Arms on Poland Avenue.

Lawless Junior High had flooded with the rest of the neighborhood, so Ronald spent most days riding around the ruins on the back of a city owned flatbed, loading up sodden furniture, fallen oak boughs, and floppy sheets of lath coated in wet plaster. The city paid him ten dollars a day, but he'd have done the work for free; it was better than hanging around the wrecked house, mining mulched clothes from the bottom of a closet, or pulling up wet carpet under Mama's grim stare. With no radio, the silence in the house was awful.

Ronald knew the people across the canal looked down on the Lower Ninth Ward, with its hogs and unpaved streets and its hodgepodge of square bungalows and skinny shotguns on brick stilts. It was as far downriver—as far down the social ladder—as you could go in New Orleans. That Betsy had broken only the levee into the Lower Ninth Ward had only confirmed the rest of the city's sense of superiority. Well, he told himself, we just got to live with that.

It was the ruined two story house across from Ronald's that opened the biggest hollow in Ronald's chest. The Alexanders hadn't yet shown up since leaving the storm, and Ronald didn't know when, if ever, he'd see his buddy Pete.

The Alexanders had moved in to that upstairs apartment when Ronald and Pete were in first grade, and the two boys had always had their best adventures together—stringing tin can telephones between their houses, tying towels around their necks to become superheroes, digging machine gun nests up under Mrs. Butler's star jasmine, and, lately, trying to get up next to that girl Janice who whooped and hollered in the Morning Star Baptist choir like Aretha Franklin herself.

The Alexanders were different—city people, Sixth Ward Creole Catholics a little lost among the vegetable gardens and chicken coops of the Lower Ninth Ward. Pete's mother, Miss Jerry Dean, didn't linger on the sidewalk talking to Mrs. Payton or Mrs. Williams the way Ronald's mom did. She kept to herself, upstairs. At first, she didn't much like dark skinned Ronald bulldogging up her front stairs to bang on the door, and she'd unhitch the screen with a reluctant sigh to let him in. As for Pete's dad, he worked at Godchaux's Department Store on Canal Street and came home every night with two quarts of beer—not Dixie or Falstaff, but Miller in those dazzling clear bottles, like a white man in a commercial. Every now and then a two-door Ford would pull up to the Alexanders', and a white man wearing a porkpie hat and sunglasses would climb out and walk right up the front steps and inside—Miss Jerry Dean's uncle. To Pete it was the most normal thing in the world to call a white man kin.

Pete himself had copper-colored skin, wavy hair lying in oiled squiggles along his scalp, and the long straight nose of his Cherokee grandmother. There was none of the sugar plantation in Pete Alexander, none of the earnest country ways of the Lower Nine. He was sly and crafty, with a jazzy way of moving and veiled street smarts. He liked to play with hair, of all things. One day Ronald had let Pete straighten his, and when it was done, it lay across his skull like a Rampart Street gigolo; Mama had about died from laughing. Hair was a way to a girl's heart, Pete always said. Let me do Janice's, and I'll be halfway there.

Ronald couldn't remember a day without Pete Alexander in it. By third grade, Miss Jerry-Dean was as good as Ronald's second mother, and if Ronald went home crying from one of Miss Jerry Dean's whippings, Mama sent him out back for a switch to give him another. The hole they left in his life was bigger than the gap in the levee. Every day since the storm, Ronald checked the Alexanders' house for signs of life a dozen times. But since the morning of the flood, the two-story house loomed over Deslonde Street as silent as a tombstone. The Alexanders were gone, maybe back forever to the Sixth Ward.

No cars moved along Deslonde Street. Easy chairs and sofas that Ronald recognized from paying calls with Mama lay sodden on the curbs. Flower gardens had been flattened, and the air was a heavy green musk, not healthy and alive like pond slime but dank and mildewed, foul with gasoline. Deslonde Street smelled like death.

Before Betsy, life had rolled by on a great, slow-moving wheel—every pebble, every live oak, every fiddling cricket as familiar to Ronald as his own hands and feet. Now that world was gone. He'd been sleepwalking before. He was awake now, but it was too late.

John Guidos

cor jesu high school

John Guidos Jr. wanted nothing more at fifteen than to be invisible. Unfortunately, he was big—with a heavy square head and blocky across the chest. So he compensated by staying quiet, speaking only when spoken to. And he prayed a lot.

His was an all-Catholic world, and Hurricane Betsy had given his parents, his priest, and the brothers at Cor Jesu High School a lot to talk about. Was the storm divine retribution against the sin and squalor of New Orleans? And if so, why had God chosen to wipe out the homes of those poor colored people in the Lower Ninth Ward and leave standing those dens of iniquity in the French Quarter? The consensus was to accept the storm as evidence of God's infinite grace and mercy, which was fine by John. He didn't like thinking too much about sin. He wondered constantly about his own.

He was built for football, and he enjoyed it. Football let him hit people, a much more comfortable means of communication than speaking. It was the locker room that made football hard. He never knew where to put his eyes. And the talk—tits and pussy and wet dreams—kept his burning face turned into his open locker.

"Faggot" was another word that got thrown around the locker room a lot. He had a pretty good idea what it meant, between the locker room talk, paragraph 2357 of the catechism with its talk of homosexuality being "contrary to natural law," and Leviticus 18:22 calling it an "abomination." If he was a faggot, he was going to hell. But as he walked up Elysian Fields Avenue toward his father's store after school, John wondered if it was really true. No matter how many times he ran all the pieces over in his head—which was constantly—he couldn't make them fit. Sometimes he wondered if he wasn't some third thing, something neither the catechism nor Leviticus knew about, something maybe even unknown to God. A memory forced itself up: one of the wicked nuns from St. Louis King of France Elementary School gliding among the desks like an iceberg, tapping a wooden yardstick on her open palm. She'd caught a couple of the boys fighting at recess and as punishment had dressed them in the plaid skirts and hair bows of their female classmates. The other children had laughed and taunted as the boys sobbed in shame, but John had felt an unexpected rush of envy. He'd slammed the door on the monstrous feeling, and had brayed like a donkey along with everyone else.

From the Hardcover edition.

What People are saying about this

Robert Olen Butler
"Nine Lives is stunning work. Dan Baum has immersed himself in New Orleans, the most fascinating city in the United States, and illuminated it in a way that is as innovative as Tom Wolfe on hot rods and Truman Capote on a pair of murderers. Full of stylistic brilliance and deep insight and an overriding compassion, Nine Lives is an instant classic of creative nonfiction."--(Robert Olen Butler, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of A Good Scent from a Strange Mountain)
Jed Horne
"Dan Baum tests the power of a very haunting place to bring these beautifully crafted narratives into a coherent whole-and New Orleans comes through with soulful aplomb. Nine Lives is a masterful portrait of a fragile American outpost between two terrible storms."--(Jed Horne, author of Breach of Faith: Hurricane Katrina and the Near Death of a Great American City)
Jon Lee Anderson
"Dan Baum writes with grace and heart in this extraordinary homage to that most beautiful and broken of America's cities, New Orleans. This is an important American story, and Dan Baum has done a wonderful thing in telling it."--(Jon Lee Anderson, author of Che Guevara: A Revolutionary Life and The Fall of Baghdad)
Tom Piazza
"Nine Lives reaches for, and grasps, an astonishing range of experience in New Orleans. In tracing the paths of these lives over decades, and across the lines of age, race, class, and gender, it gives an essential perspective on what was lost, and found, by the survivors of Hurricane Katrina. Dan Baum doesn't live in New Orleans, but New Orleans lives in him, and on every page of this harrowing, compassionate book."--(Tom Piazza, author of City of Refuge and Why New Orleans Matters)

Meet the Author

DAN BAUM is a former staff writer for The New Yorker, and has written for numerous other magazines and newspapers. He lives in Boulder, Colorado.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Nine Lives 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 44 reviews.
Coggy More than 1 year ago
I cant really tell you why I picked this up but it really does deliver. I live in Houston and can really connect with the events in it. It almost was emotionally hard to read in places because of that close connection with Katrina. The nine lives this book tells draws you in and just refuses to let go. I have always found it interesting to actually think about growing old. To think about what your parents know and to think about what they have seen. This book gives a look at that. Showing you a person grow old, showing their struggles and triumphs. It also provided a different look at Katrina, one you may not have seen before, one that I found eye opening. I will admit I did loose track of the characters stories and who was who with all the changing and darting around from person to person but I always found myself looking forward to hearing about what was next in their lives. The book also really shows you why people find the city so great and why people will really never leave. Awesome.
Meshugenah More than 1 year ago
History. Sociology. Memoir. Biography. New Orleans' people, architecture, geography, contemporary history and problems - New Orleans' culture - pulsates on every page. More importantly, this is a book that shows us the value of community, the meaning of home, and how the insights and desires of individual citizens can do more to move a metropolis forward than all the fingerpointing, posturing and intentions of professional politics.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
New Orleans is a unique city with a mix of people from varied backgrounds. This book confirms the many differances of the people and the unifying spirit of the people who reside in the city.
JJJJL More than 1 year ago
Nine very likeable and different people tell their stories from the 60's through Katrina. New Orleans is such a unique gem of a city and you get a bit of its history in this book. It doesn't try to be a history text book that covers everything, just these 9 people and their personal experiences and points of view. Very well edited- the statements are short and flow together very well. I have only known this city since Katrina and it was enlightening to get some background and a sense of what life was like for some very ordinary people. The book doesn't gloss over the flaws of either the people, the city's movers and shakers or the federal government. You will find yourself rooting for these 9 people and for the city.
VictoriaAllman More than 1 year ago
Nine Lives is the story of New Orleans, its people, and its heart. Dan Baum weaves the stories of nine different New Orleans citizens before and after Katrina throughout his tale of a city that is alive with energy and dripping with culture. This is a book about far more than the devastation of the storm. It captures New Orleans and its residents like no other book has been able to do. You will hear the trumpets blowing, taste the spice in the jambalaya, and smell the chicory in the coffee while reading. It is beautifully written with characters as vivid and colorful as New Orleans itself. I loved this book and if you've ever spent any time in the Crescent City you will too! Victoria Allman Author of: SEAsoned: A Chef's Journey with Her Captain
JoanP60615 More than 1 year ago
New Orleans. There's no other city like it in the United States. It's southern, it's French, it's Spanish, it's African-American. It's the filé in the gumbo, the lait in the café, the feathers of the Mardi Gras Indians and the improvisation of a jazz ensemble. And we nearly lost it. We nearly lost it all. A lot of books have been written about Hurricane Katrina. I've read a bunch of them. This is one of the best, mostly because it's not merely about Katrina. After I came back from the Jazz and Heritage Festival in 2006, I wrote in my Live Journal: I picked up a book while I was there, Chris Rose's 1 Dead in Attic, a collection of his articles in the Times-Picayune. And in the eponymous article he writes about some homes in the Eighth Ward, where many of the Mardi Gras Indians live, and where they have "retrieved their tattered and muddy Indian suits and sequins and feathers and they have nailed them to the fronts of their houses." New Orleans has nailed its colors to its houses; it's not going without a fight. This is Baum's effort to understand and explain, through the lives of nine New Orleanians, just what it is that makes people so devoted to this city, as poor and violent and corrupt as it was, just why they struggled (and still struggle) so hard to return and rebuild. He interviewed these folks (as well as friends, relatives and co-workers) for days, you feel that he knows them as well as he knows himself. His interviewees are as varied as you'd expect: a high school band leader, a transsexual bar owner, the coroner of Orleans Parish, a single mom from the 'hood determined to have a better life, a millionaire king of carnival, the wife (later widow) of Big Chief Tootie Montana. Their lives are so different, and yet they intersect. Each in his or her own way has tried in their lives to make their city a better place. It hasn't always been easy. Wilbert Rawlins, Jr.'s devotion to his band kids, knowing that for many he's the only father, for some the only parent, that they know, nearly loses him the woman he loves. Billy Grace, Rex, King of Carnival, risks losing status to open up the krewes (those social organizations that drive Mardi Gras). Ronald Lewis fights for equal rights on the job, and starts a second-line club to "bring a little pride back" to the Lower Ninth. Setbacks don't stop them, so why should Katrina? Rather than tell one person's story and then the next, Baum has told the stories in bits and pieces, chronologically, beginning in 1965, with Hurricane Betsy (described by Lewis as "a force of nature more powerful than his mom") and ending two years after Katrina. This structure gives the book such great force and drive that I finished it at about 1:00 in the morning, unwilling (unable, really) to stop reading. There's an incredible tension in reading the dates under each section, as we move closer and closer to that weekend in 2005. When jazz great Irvin Mayfield was interviewed by NPR shortly after Katrina, he said "jazz is about taking what you have and making the best of it, and doing it with style". That's what these folks did with their lives, and are still doing to make New Orleans come alive again.
Dulcibelle More than 1 year ago
I LOVE this book. Baum uses the stories of nine everyday New Orleans citizens to explain what's so fascinating about the city. He follows these people from the mid-1960s (right after Hurricane Betsy plowed thru New Orleans) to 2007 and Hurricane Katrina's aftermath. Each person comes from a different strata of New Orleans culture. The parish coroner, a high school band director, the drifter who came in from California are just some who get the chance to tell their story of New Orleans. I find it interesting that by bookending the story between major hurricanes, Baum has put his finger on a problem with our society in general. After Betsy, folks started cleaning up immediately, they didn't wait for someone to come do it for them. After Katrina, even those who wanted to help were hampered by those who expected someone else to do things for them. A highly recommended book.
Sharona_GentillyTerrace More than 1 year ago
I was born and raised in New Orleans and am related to one of the characters in this book and also used to frequently shop at the card shop owned by one of the characters in this book. This book gives you an idea of the great people inhabiting this city and how this city is full of life and has a hold on all of the people that live in it. It is not an easy city to describe nor are the people. I loved reading all of the stories in this book because it gave you an insight on some of the areas that people usually do not and did not come across on a daily basis. It is a great book, though it does not go into as great a detail as I would have liked but it gives you an approach to a city and the diversity of citizens. This city you could describe it in a few words but as the book illustrates, the real city and the citizens you may know are more than the cover of a book, you have to read more into it and them. This book is an uplifting book, it is not just about the effects of Katrina, it is about a city full of culture, neighbors you thought you had known and to the future of our city and it's inhabitants and their strength to move on and rebuild this great city and keep it's architecture, music, and neighborhoods alive. People wonder why try to rebuild here, this book may answer some of these thoughts by giving you an insight on the special people and places in New Orleans. This city is unlike any in the United States, the old is next to the new, the poor live right next door to the rich. This book gives you an expample of the life here but you will want to know more and more after reading this book because you get involved in these people's lives and you are pulling for all of them and their dedication to their families, their city and their fellow citizens of New Orleans.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mr Baum got it! Now resd it for yourself so you can get it! If you live or lived in the city, you don't always understand until you have someone like Mr Baum write about it. I miss the life,the people,the friends, the sounds, the smell, food,the music. I go back once or twice a year to have it embrace me, it's never enough,but it's the best I can do. We left long befor the storm. I wasn't native, my husband was. I feared exactly what happened. We entrenched our life in Lakeview. We used to bring cardboard boxes from big box stores and let our daughter slide down the 17th street levee or the Lakefront Levee like they were sleds. Snowballs on Sunday after mass, friends and family were always a priority, and yet I feared that " below sea level" concept. That "10-15 foot surge" that some older folks talked about in overheard conversations at the bus stop, or the bakery. After our second child was born, and we had our degrees from UNO I convinced my native New Orlenian husband to move to Texas. I had family there. We could start over, create our own unique world. And we did. The nine lives in this book could have ben anyone I know, could have been me. Surviving is just a part of it, going forward, moving toward something, anything, being a part of a greater picture. That, that's the unfolding story.
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I could not put this book down. It was spot on and made me love New Oleans even more. Which I did not think was possible. I am giving this book as a gift to all my N.O. transplant friends.
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