Spending 20042005 in New Orleans investigating the city’s legendary past both in the archives and its living culture in the street, this account combines personal memoir, historical research, and on-the-ground reporting to trace a suspenseful arc through the last year New Orleans was whole. The perspectives of daily life and the passage of seasons in the antediluvian city are darkly comic, irreverent, passionate, and angry. Fully revealing the city’s vicious heritage of racism and its murderous poverty, this heartbreaking narrative of joy, violence, and loss features a grand parade of unforgettable characters in the town that is both America’s great music city and its homicide capital.
Musician, musicologist and longtime New York resident, Sublette revisits his Southern roots and recounts a 2004-2005 pre-Katrina research sojourn in New Orleans in this blunt, eloquently humane and musically astute memoir-a worthy companion to his acclaimed The World That Made New Orleans, a music-laden cultural history of the city to 1819. Sublette delves into some quintessential dynamics of modern American popular culture-including racism and poverty as well as restive imagination and invention-through the prism of his childhood in virulently segregated, early rock 'n' rolling Natchitoches, La., and the fraught but idiosyncratic culture he finds in pre-flood New Orleans. If discussions of Elvis, early rock 'n' roll and hip-hop millionaires straight out of New Orleans's projects inevitably rehearse familiar narratives, Sublette carefully marks them out as part of a larger personal and social landscape. Sublette's sensitivity to the precariousness of a system that collapsed completely after he returned to New York is more than mere hindsight; his worldview dovetails movingly with his turbulent and alluring subject and its dogged rebirth. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved