cover image Feet on the Street: Rambles Around New Orleans

Feet on the Street: Rambles Around New Orleans

Roy Blount, jr. / Author Crown Publishing Group (NY) $16.95 (1

In this brief walking tour of New Orleans, Blount (Robert E. Lee; Be Sweet) spins an atmospheric, pleasantly meandering tale about a city he clearly knows and loves. Rather than offer up the standard guidebook-style list of things for tourists to do, Blount divides the book into eight ""rambles,"" because ""New Orleans is my favorite place in the world to ramble. Even on those deep-summer days that make a person feel swathed in slowly melting hamfat."" Blount's yarns will make readers want to visit the city, soak up the mood and create their own memories. Even something as simple as a rain shower reads like a possible adventure: ""It can rain so hard in New Orleans that you expect to see alligators bouncing off the pavement ... Also dramatic in their way are the soft showers of the early evening, sometimes arriving spookily in full sunshine from no clouds at all."" Of course, even the most unconventional guide to the Big Easy would be incomplete without a mention of the city's food, and Blount devotes an entire ramble to raw oysters, which he says ""give you a coolish inner lining collateral to the sheen that New Orleans humidity gives your skin."" Blount's New Orleans isn't sugar-coated; it's at times wistful, melancholy and even dangerous. But all this combines to give the reader the impression that anything can happen in New Orleans, which is precisely the author's point. Those looking for a nontraditional portrait of this unconventional city will be delighted by Blount's colorful, almost tender account.