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Why New Orleans Matters
Every place has its history. But what is it about New Orleans
that makes it more than just the sum of the events that have
happened there? What is it about the spirit of the people who
live there that could produce a music, a cuisine, an architecture,
a total environment, the mere mention of which can bring a
smile to the face of someone who has never even set foot there?
the meaning of a place like that, and what is lost if it
of Hurricane Katrina, and the national disaster that followed,
brought with them a moment of shared cultural awareness:
Thousands were killed and many more displaced; promises were
made, forgotten, and renewed; the city of New Orleans was
engulfed by floodwaters of biblical proportions -- all in
a wrenching drama that captured international attention.
passing of that moment has left too many questions. What
will become of New Orleans in the months and years to come?
What of its people, who fled the city on a rising tide of
panic, trading all they knew and loved for a dim hope of
shelter and rest? And, ultimately, what do those people and
their city mean to America and the world?
New Orleans Matters, award-winning author and New Orleans
resident Tom Piazza illuminates the storied culture and
uncertain future of this great and most neglected of American
cities. With wisdom and affection, he explores the hidden
contours of familiar traditions like Mardi Gras and Jazz
Fest, and evokes the sensory rapture of the city that gave
us jazz music and Creole cooking. He writes, too, of the
city's deep undercurrents of corruption, racism, and injustice,
and of how its people endure and transcend those conditions.
And, perhaps most important, he asks us all to consider
the spirit of this place and all the things it has shared
with the world -- grace and beauty, resilience and soul. "That spirit is in terrible jeopardy
right now," he writes. "If it dies, something precious
and profound will go out of the world forever."
New Orleans Matters is a gift from one of our most talented
writers to the beloved and important city he calls home --
and to a nation to whom that city's survival has been entrusted.