New Orleans, Mon Amour: Twenty Years of Writing from the City
Algonquin Books, 2006
For two decades NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu has been living in and writing about his adopted city, where, as he puts it, the official language is dreams. How apt that a refugee born in Transylvania found his home in a place where vampires roam the streets and voodoo queens live around the corner; where cemeteries are the most popular picnic spots, the ghosts of poets, prostitutes, and pirates are palpable, and in the French Quarter, no one ever sleeps. Codrescu's essays have been called "satirical gems," "subversive," "sardonic and stunning," "funny," "gonzo," "wittily poignant," and "perverse"-here is a writer who perfectly mirrors the wild, voluptuous, bohemian character of New Orleans itself. This retrospective follows him from newcomer to near native: first seduced by the lush banana trees in his backyard and the sensual aroma of coffee at the café down the block, Codrescu soon becomes a Window Gang regular at the infamous bar Molly's on Decatur, does a stint as King of Krewe de Vieux Carré at Mardi Gras, befriends artists, musicians, and eccentrics, and exposes the city's underbelly of corruption, warning presciently about the lack of planning for floods in a city high on its own insouciance. Alas, as we all now know, Paradise is lost.New Orleans, Mon Amour is an epic love song, a clear-eyed elegy, a cultural celebration, and a thank-you note to New Orleans in its Golden Age.
"The author is a popular NPR commentator who, although Romanian born, has been a New Orleans resident since the early 1980s. The release of this collection of essays about the city that occupies his heart could not be timelier; in fact, he has included a half-dozen pieces about its post-Katrina state. Two-page commentaries frequently give way to longer ruminations, but whether within a brief or long space, his remembrances and testimonies about the Big Easy, from the point when he arrived to the present day, share heartfelt moments and characters and conditions that are only discoverable in this most exotic of American cities. Crime is ever present, he admits, but he is equally adamant about how lovable a city it is, a place where many people call the phone numbers of the dead and fully expect the deceased to answer. Yes, living with alligators is, as he says, "an acquired taste," but on the other hand, St. Charles Avenue "has to be the most charming boulevard in the world." A place of uniqueness in all forms." - Booklist