Synopses & Reviews
In The Combination, Ashley Nelson paints a beautiful, nuanced portrait of life in one of downtown New Orleanss oldest public housing complexes, the Lafitte. Nelson, who grew up in the project, begins with her own family, merging their often painful history, including her parents drug use and her mothers death from cancer, through the daily life of the community. A brilliant, lyrical observer, Nelsons interviews let the reader hear from voices rarely engaged: a woman who collects cans for a living, the owner of the corner store, neighborhood drug dealers, the projects Residential Council, and other members of the community more often profiled in grim statistics than actually listened to. She writes about and photographs much of Lafitte and the Sixth Ward, from second lines to ward signs, from the Wild Side to the Real Side, from Dooky Chase to Southern Scrap, stories and images now weighted with an almost unbearable poignancy.