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The Year Before the Flood: A Story of New Orleansby Ned Sublette
Synopses & Reviews
With a style the Los Angeles Times calls as vivid and fast-moving as the music he loves,” Ned Sublettes powerful new book drives the reader through the potholed, sinking streets of the United Statess least-typical city.
In this eagerly awaited follow-up to The World That Made New Orleans, Sublettes award-winning history of the Crescent Citys colonial years, he traces an arc of his own experience, from the white supremacy of segregated 1950s Louisiana through the funky year of 20042005--the last year New Orleans was whole. By turns irreverent, joyous, darkly comic, passionate, and polemical, The Year Before the Flood juxtaposes the citys crowded calendar of parties, festivals, and parades with the murderousness of its poverty and its legacy of racism. Along the way, Sublette opens up windows of American history that illuminate the present: the trajectory of Mardi Gras from preCivil War days, the falsification of Southern history in movies, the citys importance to early rock and roll, the complicated story of its housing projects, the uniqueness of its hip-hop scene, and the celebratory magnificence of the participatory parades known as second lines. With a grand, unforgettable cast of musicians and barkeeps, scholars and thugs, vibrating with the sheer excitement of New Orleans, The Year Before the Flood is an affirmation of the power of the citys culture and a heartbreaking tale of loss that definitively establishes Ned Sublette as a great American writer for the 21st century.
"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.)" Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
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.
Spending 2004–2005 in New Orleans investigating the citys 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 citys 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 Americas great music city and its homicide capital.
About the Author
Ned Sublette is the author of The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square and Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo. Cofounder of the record label Qbadisc, he coproduced the public radio program Afropop Worldwide for seven years.
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