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Author Archive: "Cheryl Wagner"

Flood Sleaze, Busting Ass, and Bohemians

How would you describe Plenty Enough Suck to Go Around?

If your sister or cousin was kind of artsy and lived with her kind of artsy boyfriend and two basset hounds and someone suddenly stuck a hammer in her hand and dropped her into a scary, flooded wasteland and said hey, y'all tear down this whole house by yourself and then try to rebuild it while people try to rob you and shoot your friends? This is the book she would write.

Reviewers and readers have said it's a darkly humorous, compulsive, shocking, and fun read despite dealing with some "deep" and "tough" issues.

After years of hands-on construction experience, would you hire Cheryl Wagner for your construction crew?

Some guy did try to hire me, actually. I was outside covered in sheetrock mud with a pan in my hand. That someone would offer a crew job to a thirty-something female wearing glasses and a tank top just because she had sheetrock mud smeared on her arms is either testimony to how utterly the storm transformed me or how ...


Artsy?

Artists and their art projects color the pages of Plenty Enough Suck to Go Around, my memoir of three bizarre years rebuilding my flooded life in New Orleans. Probably more than I realized. Here's a partial guide.

Citizen Loser

A guy named Jonathan had floated around the flood in an innertube taking photographs. After the water subsided, he erected photographic signs all around Bayou St. John and Mid-City. I wasn't sure if it was supposed to be commentary or art or public information. But stumbling upon his flashback signs one day had been a small revelation....His photos illustrated my returning neighbor's stories.
—from Plenty Enough Suck to Go Around by Cheryl Wagner

A Monster Moonwalking

Helen's goofy green monster and Paul's monster ditty made me feel better. It gave me another picture to superimpose over some of what I had seen. When I sat on their backyard glider in my yard, instead of remembering that dollhouse kichen's owner crying with her head in her hands on her back stoop, I ...


Random Nola Book Thoughts

Like a lot of New Orleans bookworms, I lost almost all my books in the flood. Piling all of my ruined belongings on the street for the debris trucks gave me a quick and crazy quasi-Buddhist lesson in impermanence that I can't seem to learn from or shake. In the past, I was always in a battle with my book pile. I'd devised a solution that was part gifting milk crates of books to people and part bringing my basset hound to the French Quarter to trade books and hang out with Kaylie the Hungarian Vizsla at Kaboom Books.

But then Kaboom moved to Houston after the storm. Now books are returning to dust and pile.

Here's a small and somewhat random sampling of books that I have or used to have that have contributed to my understanding of New Orleans:

The New Orleans of Lafcadio Hearn
by Delia Labarre

This collection of satirical writings and illustrations about New Orleans first published in the Daily ...


Totally Awesome, Boo

In the past, sometimes people would give me the Leave New Orleans speech, but it was usually a career talk, and not everyone at the same time. Sometimes, it seemed the new Leave New Orleans speech might be the same old talk about maximizing my earning potential back with a vengeance. Other times, it seemed different. People could not detect the snail's progress we saw. Maybe they just did not believe what I hoped — that mess and crime could not go on forever because too many people were too sick of it. I hoped I was right.
—from Plenty Enough Suck to Go Around by Cheryl Wagner

Years before the flood, Brian used to live in the other half of our camelback in Mid-City. Now he's in Little Rock. He sent this drawing of me walking Clo in her red cape through the crudscape with a disaster worker looming ominously behind. It came with a note. The gist of it was this: Sorry I made you look ...


The Character Previously Known as Jake

"I don't know that I want to be written about anymore," my boyfriend said.

Jake let out a long breath. He stood in the new bedroom doorway we had busted out when rebuilding our Mid-City camelback after the flood. Buster draped himself across the floor like a rug of a basset hound, panting. It was hot with no rain. Not New Orleans hot. Street buckling hot. 104 degrees in City Park, ducks hiding hot. The week had been weird — a bartender had lassoed an alligator in Bayou St. John with a dog leash . Then someone found an old man bobbing in the water. Across the street from our mechanic, he floated. Last year, in the same spot, on a walk we found a lost swamp bird with a broken wing.

I had just read a review of Plenty Enough Suck to Go Around aloud to Jake, a reluctant character in my memoir of three bizarre years rebuilding our flooded life in New Orleans.

"Wagner's hipster sense of humor keeps the operatics to ...


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