Tuesday, September 20, 2016
Beauty and Doom
With the New Orleans shindig over, it's time to get back to work. I have a novel to finish and a short story for an anthology to write, so those should keep me busy for awhile. Meanwhile, I'll be hanging around NOLA for a bit longer because I'm finally reading James Sallis' The Long-Legged Fly. I started it on the flight down to New Orleans and will be finishing it on the flight back (I'm writing this on the first leg of my trip, NOLA to Houston). Sallis' novel is a beautifully crisp, affecting and evocative private eye novel so far, and I can't wait to spend more time in the presence of PI Lew Griffin.
As for New Orleans itself, say whatever else you want about it, for all the problems it has and has long had, it's one of those cities that contains an abundance of beauty. No matter how many books you read or movies you see set there, that beauty strikes you when you're walking around or riding a streetcar. I wasn't surprised to read that other people have compared the city to Venice, Italy. Different cultures, different histories, but I thought of Venice and my one visit there years ago as I was wandering around the French Quarter, Algiers, and Marigny. The connection to Venice isn't just because of the physical beauty and the constant presence - in particular locations - of tourists, but because New Orleans, like Venice, has the aura of being a doomed city. At any time (and as everyone has seen), watery disaster can strike this city and threaten to wipe it out. You get all that hedonism, that intoxication, that willing surrender to pleasure, and who knows when the end will come? Of course, the uncertainty about when and how things will end goes for everything and everyone anywhere in the world, but it just seems heightened and made more palatable in a place as sensuous and idiosyncratic as New Orleans.
Meanwhile, and not related to any of what's written here, I'm pondering whether I should open the crummy snack mix pack they just gave me on my plane flight. This junk after the food in New Orleans?
I need a drink.
Sadly, it won't be a Sazerac.