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The glamour, sadness, complexity, and delicious foods of New Orleans.
Immersed in the pages of New Orleans: Elegance and Decadence, a Chronicle Books publication from 1993, I was taken back to two idyllic trips to this "foreign" city in America.
Just once, my husband and I let loose the fetters of parenthood: we left our toddler in the care of loving grandparents and departed for four days. This first excursion was a whirl of meals that left taste buds clamoring--Galatoire's, pralines, blackened fish at K-Paul's, po' boy sandwich concoctions at a corner store, beignets.
Another trip, I roomed with my two sisters at our high school reunion in New Orleans. (It's complicated--we were daughters of a military officer stationed around the world; I went to four high schools, and graduated from one in a Tokyo suburb.) This city visit included daytime historic house and garden tours, as well as "go cups" on Bourbon Street.
To get back to my book point, the wonderful photographs in Richard Sexton and Randolph Delehanty's book take you there.
Police Officer on the Beat
I'm so enamored of my pre-Katrina memories of New Orleans that I savor mystery series set in the area.
Author Julie Smith has churned out nine books centering on Skip Langdon, a six foot woman raised to be a socialite, but dedicated to her career as a New Orleans police officer. I don't feel you necessarily have to read them in order, although the website Library Thing nicely arranges the titles.
The first one published was New Orleans Mourning. Caveat: these are not great mystery novels, but for me, the setting and culture and history of New Orleans come through successfully, as well as some very quirky characters.
So much better in terms of writing and history, though, is Barbara Hambly's series about Benjamin January. Her newest book in the series of nine, Dead and Buried, is currently on order for the system. January is a free man of color, educated in Paris as a medical doctor. In 1830s New Orleans, he must make a living as a pianist.
Karen Y. is a member of two book clubs. She reads frantically, looking for structure, meaning, and author's intent. Materials related to Japan, food, arts and crafts, travel, and style attract her like a magnet.