1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina

1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina

by Chris Rose

Paperback(Reissue)

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Overview

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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501125379
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 08/04/2015
Edition description: Reissue
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 116,925
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.

    Man.

    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


    Introduction     XV
    Who We Are     1
    Early Days
    Facing the Unknown     7
    The First Time Back     10
    Survivors     13
    Life in the Surreal City     16
    Hope     19
    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
    Despair     61
    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
    Good-bye     89
    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
    Tutti-Frutti     145
    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
    Falling Down
    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
    Acknowledgments     363

    What People are Saying About This

    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

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    1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina 4.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
    bettyjo on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Whisper1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    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.)
    MarcusH on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    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."
    bunkie68 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    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.
    sheryll on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    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.
    jocraddock on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    Tears, laughter, memories . . . a very touching compilation of columnist Chris Rose's days in New Orleans following The Storm.
    MusicMom41 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    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!
    whitewavedarling on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    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.
    barras31063 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
    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.
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    BkslrLauren More than 1 year ago
    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.
    PhilliesPhan22 More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    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!
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    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.
    Guest More than 1 year ago
    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.