Try it. Right now. Picture the lights going off in the room you're sitting in. The computer, the air conditioning, phones, everything. Then the people, every last person in your building, on the street outside, the entire neighborhood, vanished. With them go all noises: chitchat, coughs, cars, and that wordless, almost impalpable hum of a city. And animals: no dogs, no birds, not even a cricket's legs rubbing together, not even a smell. Now bump it up to 95 degrees. Turn your radio on and listen to 80 percent of your city drowning. You're almost there. Only twenty-eight days to go.
Joshua Clark never left New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, choosing instead to band together with fellow holdouts in the French Quarter, pooling resources and volunteering energy in an effort to save the city they loved. When Katrina hit, Clark, a key correspondent for National Public Radio during the storm, immediately began to record hundreds of hours of conversations with its victims, not only in the city but throughout the Gulf: the devastated poor and rich alike; rescue workers from around the country; reporters; local characters who could exist nowhere else but New Orleans; politicians; the woman Clark loved, in a relationship ravaged by the storm. Their voices resound throughout this memoir of a unique and little-known moment of anarchy and chaos, of heartbreaking kindness and incomprehensible anguish, of mercy and madness as only America could deliver it.
Paying homage to the emotional power of Joan Didion, the journalistic authority of Norman Mailer, and the gonzo irreverence of Tom Wolfe, Joshua Clark takes us through the experiences of loss and renewal, resilience and hope, in a city unlike any other. With lyrical sympathy, humility, and humor, Heart Like Water marks an astonishing and important national debut.
A portion of the author's royalties from this book will go to the Katrina Arts Relief and Emergency Support (KARES) fund, which supports New Orleans-area writers affected by the storm.Visit www.NewOrleansLiteraryInstitute.com to find out how to make a direct and positive impact on the region.
- National Book Critics Circle Awards
As Hurricane Katrina bears down on New Orleans, Clark (founder of Light of New Orleans Publishing) refuses to leave his French Quarter apartment, convinced that he'll be safe four stories up. In the days that follow, he and other friends who stayed behind make the best of the situation, appropriating huge quantities of liquor during a supermarket looting, and organizing themselves as a makeshift cleanup crew to avoid being forcibly evacuated. Such lighthearted moments become increasingly rare as tension develops between Clark's optimistic outlook and his girlfriend's depressed reaction. We each think the other's pathetic, he confesses to a friend, and there's New Orleans busted in the abyss between us. The drawn-out disintegration of their relationship runs through the second half of the memoir, while Clark tape-records impressionistic interviews with fellow storm survivors. The scenes of physical devastation are matched by an uncompromising look at the emotional traumas that unfold in the storm's aftermath--yet through it all, Clark never fully abandons his sense of the absurd. In a short postscript, he turns serious to call attention to the fastest disappearing landmass on the planet, the coastal wetlands that separate New Orleans from the Gulf of Mexico, urging readers to agitate for a solution. (July 10)
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-- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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July 09, 2007
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