“Letters From New Orleans”

My friend Rob Walker just published a new book:

"It’s a strange book, "Letters From New Orleans" – and that’s no fault
of the author, Rob Walker, who writes The New York Times Magazine’s
Consumed column. He calls this delightful collection, which consists
mostly of what he describes as the "pointless, sporadic and free"
e-mail musings he sent to friends starting in 2000, "just a modest
series of stories about a place that means a lot to me." New Orleans is
the city Walker adopted at the beginning of the millennium and deserted
three and a half years later for, he writes, "reasons that remain
unclear." Now that the city is all but destroyed, his modest stories
have gained weight. You can’t breeze through them, chuckling like the
friends on Walker’s original e-mail list. Your brain collates the
portents, starting on the book’s second page: "The reasons not to move
to New Orleans include . . . the legitimate possibility of being wiped
out by a hurricane or flood." Right from the first sentence – "Random
bullets are a problem in New Orleans, especially on New Year’s Eve" –
you’re parsing irony levels, remembering interstitially how this is all
gone and suspecting you ought not to have laughed at that part. It can
get a bit meta, which is appropriate considering that Walker is best
known for his anthropological investigations of our unconscious
consumer choices. His considerable skill in this area is applied less
to the famous French Quarter, Mardi Gras, Galatoire’s, the city’s
vertical cemeteries – though these are examined – and more to smaller,
lesser-known aspects of New Orleans…"

Review of "Letters from New Orleans"
By Kate Sekules
The New York Times [Registration required]