With a new foreword by the author on the tenth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina—Chris Rose’s New York Times bestselling collection: “A gripping book about life’s challenges in post-Katrina New Orleans…packed with heart, honesty, and wit” (New Republic).
Celebrated as a local classic and heaped with national praise, 1 Dead in Attic is a brilliant collection of columns by an award-winning Times-Picayune journalist chronicling the horrific damage and aftermath wrought by Hurricane Katrina in 2006. “Frank and compelling...vivid and invaluable” (Booklist), it is a roller coaster ride through a devastated American wasteland as it groans for rebirth. Full of the emotion, tragedy and even humor—which has made Chris Rose a favorite son and the voice of a lost city—these are the stories of the dead and the living, of survivors and believers, of destruction and recovery, and of hope and despair.
With photographs by British photojournalist Charlie Varley, 1 Dead in Attic captures New Orleans caught between an old era and a new, New Orleans in its most desperate time, as it struggled out of floodwaters and willed itself back to life.
|Publisher:||Simon & Schuster|
|Product dimensions:||5.40(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.00(d)|
About 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.
Read an Excerpt
1 Dead in Attic
I got out.
I’m mystified by the notion that so many people didn’t even try; but that’s another story for another time.
We left Saturday, my wife, kids, and me. We went first to Picayune, Mississippi, thinking that a Category 3 storm would flood New Orleans and knock out power, but that we’d be dry and relatively comfortable in the piney woods while the city dried out.
Sunday morning, of course, Katrina was a massive red blob on our TV screens—now a Cat 5—so we packed up and left again.
We left my in-laws behind in Picayune. They wouldn’t come with us. Self-sufficient country folk; sometimes you can’t tell ’em nothing.
We don’t know what happened to them. My wife’s dad and her brother and their families: No word. Only hope.
Like so many people around the country wondering what happened to those still unaccounted for, we just don’t know. That’s the hardest part.
If you take the images you’ve seen on TV and picked up off the radio and Internet, and you try to apply what you know to the people and places you don’t know about, well, the mind starts racing, assumptions are made, and, well . . . it consumes you.
The kids ask you questions. You don’t have answers. Sometimes they look at me, and though they don’t say it, I can see they’re wondering: Daddy, where are you?
My six-year-old daughter, she’s onto this thing. What is she thinking?
We spent Sunday night in a no-tell motel in a forgotten part of downtown Vicksburg; a neighborhood teetering between a familiar antiquated charm and hopeless decay. Truth is, it called to mind my beloved New Orleans.
Most of the folks in the hotel seemed to live there permanently, and it had a hard-luck feel to it. It was the kind of place where your legs start itching in the bed and you think the worst and you don’t want your kids to touch the carpet or the tub and we huddled together and I read them to sleep.
Monday morning, my wife’s aunt told us they had a generator in Baton Rouge. As Katrina marched north and east, we bailed on our sullen little hotel and drove down along the western ridge of the storm, mostly alone on the road.
Gas was no problem. We had catfish and pulled pork in a barbecue joint in Natchez, and the folks there—everyone we have met along our three-day journey—said the same thing: Good luck, folks. We love your city. Take care of it for us.
Oh, my city. We have spent hours and hours listening to the radio. Image upon image piling up in your head.
What about school? What about everyone’s jobs? Did all our friends get out? Are there still trees on the streetcar line? What will our economy be like with no visitors? How many are dead? Do I have a roof? Have the looters found me yet? When can we go home?
As I said, it consumes you as you sit helplessly miles from home, unable to help anyone, unable to do anything.
If I could, what I’d do first is hurt the looters. I’d hurt them bad.
But you have to forget all that. You have to focus on what is at hand, what you can reach, and when you have three little kids lost at sea, they are what’s at hand and what you can reach.
I took them to a playground in Baton Rouge Tuesday afternoon. They’d been bottled up for days.
Finally unleashed, they ran, they climbed, they fell down, they fought, they cried, they made me laugh, they drove me crazy; they did the things that make them kids.
It grounds you. You take a breath. You count to ten. Maybe—under the circumstances—you go to twenty or thirty this time.
And tonight, we’ll just read them to sleep again.
We have several books with us because—and this is rich—we brought on our evacuation all the clothes and things we planned to bring on a long-weekend trip that we were going to take over Labor Day weekend.
To the beach. To Fort Morgan, right at the mouth of Mobile Bay.
Instead of that, I put on my suntan lotion and went out in the yard of the house where we’re staying in Baton Rouge and I raked a massive pile of leaves and limbs from the yard and swept the driveway.
Doing yard work and hitting the jungle gym on the Day After. Pretending life goes on. Just trying to stay busy. Just trying not to think. Just trying not to fail, really.
Gotta keep moving.
Table of Contents
Who We Are 1
Facing the Unknown 7
The First Time Back 10
Life in the Surreal City 16
Rita Takes Aim 22
The Empty City 25
God and Strippers 28
The More Things Change 31
Enough to Feed an Army 34
Tough Times in the Blue Tarp Town
Blue Roof Blues 41
The Smell 44
The Elephant Men 48
Mad City 51
1 Dead in Attic 56
The Ties That Bind
My Introduction to New Orleans 67
The Funky Butt 72
The Hurricane Kids 75
Traveling Man 78
Have Barbie, Will Travel 81
Prep Boys and Jesuits 84
Groundhog Day 92
Coming Home 95
Life in the Refrigerator City
Civil Unrest 101
Refrigerator Town 105
Lurching Toward Babylon 107
The Cat Lady 110
Caving In 113
The Magnet Man 116
The Last Ride 119
Lights in the City 123
Let the Good Times Roll 127
Our Katrina Christmas 131
Tears, Fears, and a New Year 134
Misadventures in the Chocolate City
Chocolate City 141
He Had a Dream 147
He's Picking the Pairs for Nola's Ark 150
Rider on the Storm 153
Car 54, Where Are You? 156
Not in My Pothole 160
Survive This 163
Love Among the Ruins
September Never Ends 169
The Muddy Middle Ground 172
Misery in the Melting Pot 176
The End of the World 181
A Huck Finn Kind of Life 187
Our Very Scary Summer 192
Songs in the Key of Strife 196
The End of the Line 200
We Raze, and Raise, and Keep Pushing Forward 210
Echoes of Katrina in the Country 215
The Purple Upside-Down Car
Second Line, Same Verse 221
Don't Mess with Mrs. Rose 226
Shooting the Rock 229
The City That Hair Forgot 233
A Rapturous Day in the Real World 238
Big Daddy No Fun 243
Peace Among the Ruins 247
Artful Practicality 250
"She Rescued My Heart" 253
Miss Ellen Deserved Better 257
Things Worth Fighting For
Rebirth at the Maple Leaf 267
Melancholy Reveler 270
They Don't Get Mardi Gras, and They Never Will 274
Reality Fest 278
Love Fest 281
O Brothers, Where Be Y'all? 285
Funeral for a Friend 289
Thanks, We Needed That 292
Say What's So, Joe 296
A Night to Remember 301
Eternal Dome Nation 308
On the Inside Looking Out 317
A City on Hold 320
A Tough Nut to Crack 323
Hell and Back 327
Letters from the Edge 340
Where We Go From Here
Children of the Storm, It's Time to Represent 347
Thank You, Whoever You Are 353
A New Dawn 358
What People are Saying About This
"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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
The story about the refrigerator war has stuck with me. People dropping off their Stinky frig at someone else's front yard for pick up is just a small piece of the pie with the recovery effort in New Orleans. What has happened in the New Orleans\Mississippi Gulf Coast area will not be fixed in my lifetime...maybe not even in my children's lifetime. It seems so simple...should we fix New Orleans or continue to funnel billions overseas to fight a war that the people there don't particularly care if we are there. I pray for the soldiers like I pray for the New Orleaneans.
The title is taken from writing on a flood destroyed house, indicating yet another victim of the Hurricane Katrina New Orleans tragedy . This book, written by an award-winning Times Picayune columnist, contains one-chapter short stories that are simply incredible. Rather than outline what lead to Katrina, Rose focuses on the aftermath of the hurricane. His heart rendering account of a year and a half after is so well written that at times I laughed and others I cried. His pithy, heart breaking and poignant tales of the people who are the soul of New Orleans will haunt me for a long time. I laughed at the tale of refrigerator wars; I cried for a city trying to re-claim itself. After reading this I feel as though I've walked the streets of New Orleans, gleaned some knowledge of what makes the city tick -- the good (those stubborn hold outs who want to rebuild and renew) , the bad (the local politicians, the Army Core of Engineers and the ineffective mayor) and the ugly (very nasty culture that loots, robs, rapes and waits for handouts and blames all others.)
This book gathers several years worth of newspaper columns written by Chris Rose, a New Orleans journalist. His columns show how devastating Katrina truly was. The heartache of an entire city of people being displaced, losing loved ones...losing everything is palpable throughout the book. At times Rose goes off on tangents that slow the books pace down and are hard to understand if one has not lived in New Orleans within the past decade. All in all, this book serves as an excellent chronicle of one of the U.S. darkest natural disasters.As a sidenote: One of the best lines from the book involves Rose searching for a FedEx package 7 months after Katrina. The FedEx call center apparently was outsourced and had little clue as to the devastation in New Orleans. The operator informed him that his package was delayed "due to some weather."
I no longer live in Louisiana, but I grew up there. I have family in the New Orleans area, and they came to stay with us after Katrina hit. Reading this really brought home to me what they experienced as they fled before the storm and after they went back home to rebuild. Chris Rose's stories and descriptions of events and life after Katrina sometimes made me laugh, more often made me cry, and brought home to me the resilience of the human spirit. It made me grieve for what my home state has suffered and rejoice to see rebuilding taking place, even in very small ways.
A collection of Chris Rose's newspaper columns about living in New Orleans post-Hurricane Katrina. There's no way, in my opinion, to read this book and not be moved to tears at some point. It's such an emotional read that I couldn't take it all in at one sitting. Bad idea to read it while commuting to work on public transit. I think people on the bus thought I was crazy, wiping away the tears as I read.
Tears, laughter, memories . . . a very touching compilation of columnist Chris Rose's days in New Orleans following The Storm.
I received this book as an Angel Mooch (Thank you, Linda!) and loved it. This is the ¿story¿ of what happened ¿after Katrina.¿ Chris Rose wrote a column for a couple of years after Katrina telling the stories of how the storm affected the city and the people if New Orleans. He is passionate about his city and in the end the tremendous grief he carried as he did this job almost destroyed him also. So often after a ¿catastrophe¿ when the news media stops covering it those of us not touched by it tend to forget that recovery does not happen instantly¿and sometime complete recovery never happens. That is what this book helps us realize about New Orleans. It¿s a very intense book¿although sometimes there is also some humor, the laughter is most often through tears¿and I had to put it aside periodically. But it is a book I would recommend to anyone who wants to better understand what people go through after a catastrophe. Highly recommended!
First, I wouldn't recommend reading this in one sitting. I left it at my boyfriend's house, and read it when I had time on weekends. As a collection of newspaper columns, it lends itself well to occasional reading. Obviously from the subject, it is not lighthearted. It is, however, at many times inspiring, and nearly always touching. Rose is a talented writer, and this is an in depth look at what happened in the aftermath of Katrina in New Orleans. Rose sets politics aside, and looks at the people, examining the inspiring just as closely as the heartbreak. The reader also sees Rose himself go through the process of healing, to the extent that it can be found, which is in itself a journey worth taking and examining. Whether you are a longtime visitor of New Orleans, have been there only one (like myself), or have never been there at all, this book is something outside of available description. It is worth reading, for anyone. You'll find yourself touched, as could be expected, but also reassured for the state of humanity in general, and you'll learn a great deal along the way. This book is highly recommended, for anyone.
This book had me in tears. It is a collection of stories, recounting the first year and a half of life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
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.
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.
God bless Chris for sharing his life after Katrina.
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!
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.
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.