Synopses & Reviews
It seems over the years I have become something of a professional enthusiast, which is weird, because I'm also kind of cynical and grumpy. Mostly, this all just makes me a typical New Orleanian of sorts.
The cliché "New Orleans gets into people's blood" happens to be very true — just not always convenient. For Cheryl Wagner (along with her indie-band boyfriend, a few eccentric pals, some ne'er-do-wells, and two aging basset hounds) abandoning the city she loved wasn't an option.
Well-meaning out-of-town friends kept calling my Go phone with absurd suggestions of where Jake and I should stow ourselves. Austin, Asheville, and Portland kept coming up as our personal Shangri-Las for reasons I could not fathom other than that these were towns with well-documented vegetarian populations.
This is the story of Cheryl's disturbing surprise view from her front porch after she moved back home to find everything she treasured in shambles...and her determined, absurd, and darkly funny three-year journey of trying to piece it all back together.
If instead of moving from a small Louisiana town to New Orleans at seventeen I had fled the South like forward-looking modern careerist girls without money are all supposed to, and moved into one of those New York or Metro anywhere cubbyholes off a subway entrance, then I would not be on the back balcony about to fall to my death now. I would be bored, maybe. But safe!
In the same heartfelt and hilarious voice that has drawn thousands of listeners to her broadcasts on public radio's This American Life, Wagner shares her unique yet universal story of rebuilding a life after it's been flooded, dried, and died...and then the copper thieves moved in...
"Wagner captures the nostalgia, the heartbreak and the friendships spawned in Katrina's turbulent aftermath with raw emotional honesty free of sentimentality. Unflinching, humorous and heartfelt." Kirkus Reviews
"Wagner's is a distinctive and funny voice, with that tone of the committed (and at times should be committed) New Orleanian....[W]e end up with this fine book, with its searing honesty, its gallows humor and its survivor spirit." The New Orleans Times-Picayune
NPR's This American Life contributor Wagner tells the story of how she and a few eccentric pals rebuilt their lives after returning home to hurricane ravaged New Orleans.
About the Author
Cheryl Wagner is a contributor to public radio's This American Life. Her work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, Harper's Magazine, McSweeney's, and The Mississippi Review, and has been featured on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's "The Current" and "Definitely Not the Opera." Her cover stories on Hurricane Katrina won awards from the Louisiana Press Association. A Louisiana native, she is a graduate of Tulane University and the Center for Writers at the University of Southern Mississippi. She lives in New Orleans.