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New Orleans Review - Number 31, 2006

  • Issue Number: Volume 31
  • Published Date: 2006
  • Publication Cycle: Biannual

"The peculiar virtue of New Orleans…may be that of the Little Way, a talent for everyday life rather than the heroic deed," Walker Percy wrote in 1968, in an essay first published in Harper's and reprinted in this issue of the New Orleans Review, which includes work solely by writers with deep connections to New Orleans. If anything has changed since "New Orleans, Mon Amour" first appeared, perhaps it is that we now think of the "everyday" as the "heroic" when it comes to these post-Katrina times. Percy's essay is one of two pieces "from the past," in a heartbreaking and breathtaking issue that includes poetry, fiction, and essays by nearly three dozen contributors, as well as several series of striking black and white photographs, and a clever graphic story by Brad Benischek. There is much of what fascinates us about New Orleans here—music, dance, spicy southern food, the swamp, the heat—and there are tales of earlier hurricanes. And there is, of course, information, images, stories, and emotions about living through Hurricane Katrina and about the city in the post-storm weeks and months. None of the work feels occasional, incidental, temporary, a quick outpouring of grief after the trauma. This work is powerful, memorable, and quite beautiful, even, or perhaps, especially in its evocation of the devastation, confusion, and distress. Poems by Ed Skloog, Rodger Kamenetz, Abraham Burickson, and James Nolan are especially strong. Nolan, a fifth generation New Orleans native, also contributes a fine essay. It seems fitting to conclude this all-too-brief review with the final lines of Anne Gisleson's essay, "The Chain Catches Hold": "One morning my son pointed excitedly up, 'Look, another!' In the hard blue fall sky two jet contrails had crossed each other, and for a moment it wasn't just our houses, or city but the whole sky that the world itself, marked for search and rescue." [www.loyno.edu/~noreview] –Sima Rabinowitz

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Review Posted on June 30, 2006
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