Anthony Wells was a small-time drug dealer living in the Lower 9th. I often describe this book as being about Hurricane Katrina, but really, it's a love letter to New Orleans. We meet her as a smart young girl who loves books and only wanted to get an education and have a white picket fence life. It is no secret that N'Awlins is one of my most favorite places and I have been fortunate to be able to go there several times over the years. The writing of this book is based on hundreds of hours of interviews with the subjects and the people around them, and as a result, is so skillfully created that I thought it was a roman a clef, not a non-fiction book. When Tootie finally tells his son he was pretty I got a little teary eyed.
Poor blacks and white exiled to Baton Rouge or Houston clawed to get back to a semblance of their lives in an unpainted shotgun house. Then I realized I was missing a chance to know New Orleans more intimately. Still I felt obligated to read Nine Lives as the author is a neighbor and slight acquaintance. If you read only one book about New Orleans, read this one. Critics unanimously praised the author's approach and style, and they compared Baum's effort to the documentary work of Studs Terkel and John Berendt's Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, even if, at times, his jumpy, snapshot approach breaks the narrative flow.
We watch Rawlins grow from a young man to this respected community member. Dan Baum is a journalist who was sent to N. At first, I was just reading the parts that took place in the 80s. Frank Baum's reporting skills definitely shine through this book. I was drawn in by the wonderful slices of life right away. From the single mother struggling to achieve a college education, to the transsexual bar owner, to the Mardi Gras chief, to the local ruling class. For someone in my unseemly profession, it's paradise.
He quickly realized that Katrina was not the most interesting thing about New Orleans, not by a long shot. As much as I have read about the effects of Katrina on the city and its people, this was eye-opening. This book has all the rave reviews it needs, so let me not belabor the point. Both are cities that have dealt with high levels of corruption, crime, and preventable disasters. It's hard to imagine a place where all of this could happen - but it does. Rawlins has been a father figure to countless troubled teens, offering tough love and respect in turn, and giving them an outlet through music. Some of the reviews I read before I picked up the book complained that Nine Lives isn't more focused on Katrina--it's only the la Stunning.
Inspiring, true-life stories about real people who have adapted to life after suffering amputation or limb-absence. After an hour or two of reading comments and reviews of various New Orleans books on Goodreads, I decided to see if I could find in my local library. The author captures that love without being preachy or overly sentimental. I'm hard pressed to name a more powerful non-fiction book I have ever read. I expected the Katrina section to have the most impact, but Dan Baum does an excellent job of putting it in perspective by focusing on what really makes New Orleans special: its people.
Baum is doing a good job of evoking them. I just finished The Great Deluge by Douglas Brinkley before reading Nine Lives and it was a great primer. I loved this book, perhaps even more so than 's books, for its portrayal of people, its sense of place and its insight into unique pockets of society. Dan Baum did an absolutely masterful job at crafting each of their unique stories in their own voices and pretty much their own words. The story begins with the reaction of a 15-year old Ninth Ward resident to the 1965 devastation of Hurricane Betsy and moves through the events surrounding Hurricane Katrina and beyond. The main characters of this non fiction, spirituality story are ,. You got to see the good that's mixed in with the bad.
However, although these are important events in the book, they are not the entire focus of the book. Raised in the 9th Ward, Frank was often involved with people involved in the civil rights movement, and never shied away from patients no matter their race or social class. Some of the reviews I read before I picked up the book complained that Nine Lives isn't more focused on Katrina--it's only the last 100 pages. Ian Colquhoun is an author from Livingston and now based in Edinburgh, Scotland. If the water was this deep here, right in middle of the city, all of New Orleans must be underwater. I did meet two of the heroes of Nine Lives last December - Ronald Lewis and Pete Alexander - at the backyard museum called House of Dance and Feathers, in New Orleans' slowly rebuilding Lower Ninth Ward.
But here's the detail that struck me: Memorial Hospital's name had been changed years before the storm, but in the way of these things, the name change had not been co Just this past week I read a critique of the reporting on Katrina in general, and on in particular, as being written by outsiders who don't know enough to know what they were missing. The bibliography was amazing in its breadth and depth. The stories he tells are candid, real, and fraught with generations of loss and disappointment. Nine Lives is far more character based, with Baum's prose reading almost like fiction. At least the first two-thirds were spent developing the characters' lives after Hurricane Betsy in 1965 in short interlaced vignettes usually less than three pages each. Having grown up in New Orleans, I tend to be a harsh critic of restaurants and books that claim to portray the culture of New Orleans.
Belinda Rawlins is 2nd wife of Wilbert Rawlins, Jr. It's hard to imagine a place where all of this could happen - but it does. And the stories woven here are raw - you can conjure sitting across from the person. I need to write to those gentlemen now that I know their story more fully, thank them for the generosity of spirit that made my friend and me feel so welcome that sunny afternoon. As Hurricane Katrina becomes more distant in our collective rear view mirror, I hope and trust this book will become a critical part of the literature on the subject.