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1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina

Chris Rose, Author
Chris Rose, Author . Simon & Schuster $15 (364p) ISBN 978-1416552987
Reviewed on: 12/31/2007
Release date: 08/01/2007
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The physical and psychic dislocation wrought by Hurricane Katrina is painstakingly recollected in this brilliant collection of columns by award-winning New Orleans Times Picayune columnist Rose (who has already hand-sold 60,000 self-published copies). After evacuating his family first to Mississippi and then to his native Maryland, Rose returned almost immediately to chronicle his adopted hometown's journey to “hell and back.” Rose deftly sketches portraits of the living, from the cat lady who survives the storm only to die from injuries sustained during a post-hurricane mugging, to the California National Guard troops who gratefully chow down on steaks Rose managed to turn up in an unscathed French Quarter freezer. He's equally adept at evoking the spirit of the dead and missing, summed up by the title, quoting the entirety of an epitaph spray painted on one home. Although the usual suspects (FEMA and Mayor Ray Nagin, among others) receive their fair share of barbs, Rose's rancor toward the powers that be is surprisingly muted. In contrast, he chronicles his own descent into mental illness (and subsequent recovery) with unsparing detail; though his maniacal dedication to witnessing the innumerable tragedies wrought by “The Thing” took him down a dark, dangerous path (“three friends of mine have, in fact, killed themselves in the past year”), it also produced one of the finest first-person accounts yet in the growing Katrina canon. (Aug. )

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