1DEAD IN ATTIC: AFTER KATRINA by Chris Rose

When 9/11 happened people were devastated, shocked, broken physically and emotionally from the loss of loved ones and jobs. But the general sentiment all around me was akin to Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more. The consensus was that New Yorkers would move through the tragedy and come out stronger because Americans do not accept defeat.

After Katrina hit on August 29, 2005, people were devastated, shocked, broken physically and emotionally from the loss of loved ones, homes and jobs. As with 9/11, many people around the country and the world stepped up and leant a helping hand to New Orleans. But I was taken aback by the sentiment around me concerning this tragedy. Henry V must have been on vacation. Rallying the troops was replaced by skepticism, judgment, and lack of empathy. Here is what I heard: New Orleans will never bounce back. The destruction was too massive. What a stupid place to build a city—under sea level. Why go back when this sort of thing could happen again and again?

I wasn’t born in New Orleans, but I lived there for six years. It’s the city I call home. When I heard people putting New Orleans down, my gut reaction was to slap them upside the head until compassion and reason returned. Instead, I continued to work on my novel, set in New Orleans, with the hope of communicating the love I have for a city that is like no other. Many residents of New Orleans have written memoirs and documented the catastrophe that occurred on August 29, 2005, but I don’t believe anyone has done it better than Chris Rose.

 You’d have to be crazy to want to live here. You’d have to be plumb out of reasonable options elsewhere.Then again, I’ve discovered that the only thing worse than being in New Orleans these days is not being in New Orleans.

The love New Orleans residents have for their home, in my humble opinion, is greater than anywhere else in the States. I believe this to be true because how a person connects with New Orleans has nothing to do with reason. You Get the city on a visceral level. And Rose shares the Get factor with perfection.

1 Dead in Attic is a collection of the columns written by Rose for The Times-Picayune—the good the bad, the ugly, the anger and the hope that permeated the city—throughout the first sixteen months after the Storm.

The people you see here—and there are many that stayed behind—they never speak her name. She is the woman that done us wrong.

For those of you who didn’t live through The Thing, the book is a tell all that reads like a memoir. Rose’s observations of what transpired, politically, culturally and personally are acute with a black humor edge.

You know how you can feel around here, walking the afternoon streets in the thick of the summer—you feel like the walking dead, only the walking dead don’t have any worries and aren’t waiting for a call back from Entergy, Allstate and FEMA.

Chris Rose is a jazz cowboy determined to lasso readers—from The Great Elsewhere—and hold them hostage until they get with the program and understand that New Orleans is an essential ingredient for the wellbeing of the world.

 We are the music. We are the food. We are the dance. We are the tolerance. We are the spirit. And one day they’ll get it. As a woman named Judy Deck emailed…If there was no New Orleans, America would just be a bunch of free people dying of boredom. 

Other than Hell or High Water by Joy Castro, no other book as ever made me so homesick. Rose places his heart and conscience on every page. His honesty about the shattered mess the city was left in, the anger and violence that rose out of it, while little things like a working traffic light infused hope, and his own spiral into depression shake the roots of the readers souls until we want to cheer for everyone who stayed and came back to the community that for a long time was…

…held together with duct tape and delusion. 

There is no soft-spin on any topic. Rose exposes the crispy edges, the fear and the sorrow. But in the end he is the voice of hope, which is the true spirit of New Orleans.

We’re Sisyphus pushing the boulder up the mountain. We’re trapped in an Escher print, walking down steps that actually lead up, down straight paths that lead us full circle…

But don’t pity us. We’re gonna make it. We’re resilient. After all we’ve been rooting for the Saints for thirty-five years. That’s got to count for something. 

1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina will make you cry, laugh and book a ticket to New Orleans. Thank you, Chris Rose.