Dan Baum’s New Book Chronicles Nine New Orleans Lives

I haven’t read it yet; but I got word of it from Ken McCarthy, who runs the site Food Music Justice which calls itself “an online video encyclopedia” of New Orleans under these three headings. The blog is sorta in hiatus, although I list it here. I’ll let him say a few words about the book:

1. It’s beautifully written.

2. It puts New Orleanians in a good light. Baum took the time to get to know the people and go beyond the usual sensational media BS.

3. Baum is such a strong advocate for the city that The New Yorker actually fired him for being too enthusiastic (They wanted gloom and doom and petty politics stories – he refused to providethem so they canned him.)

I think that’s the real reason why he was canned.

From Publishers’ Weekly:

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.

Baum is anticipating a move with his family from Colorado to live in New Orleans. He says that it is all about people, families, neighborhoods, and common threads to everyone and everyone. In other words, he gets it, at least for himself.

He maintains that all that talk about remaking New Orleans into some kind of Disneyland on the Gulf of Mexico has faded. I hate to demur, but the projects, even the ones that were viable, definitely have been bulldozed. Housing is high, although former residents have been migrating back to the city. Jindal refuses to take any of Obama’s stimulus funds although the state, and New Orleans definitely needs it. Does the Legislature have any spine left?

Otherwise, check it out, and let me know how good the book is. If you can’t find it, try Amazon, or Powell’s, where at this writing, it has only one left. Anything for New Orleans. There is good news there.

~ by blksista on March 31, 2009.

2 Responses to “Dan Baum’s New Book Chronicles Nine New Orleans Lives”

  1. I read it and loved it. I am a native New Orleanian and lived in various parts of the city for over 30 years. Dan “gets” it. I am glad that history has reported the true story of New Orleans. I wish every American would read this book. Too bad so few of them read.


  2. Thank you for mentioning “Nine Lives.” I hope you will read it. If you or your readers would like to know more about it, please visit http://www.danbaum.com.
    Again, many thanks for putting “Nine Lives” on your radar.


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