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|One in the Crown
Author: Roy Blount, Jr.
|“Betcha I can tell ya / Where
Got them shoooes.
Betchadollar, Betchadollar / Where ya
Got them shoooes.
Got your shoes on your feet
Got your feet on the street
And the street’s in Noo Awlins, Loo-eez-ee-anna.
Where I, for my part, first ate a live oyster and first saw a naked woman
with the lights on. . . . Every time I go to New Orleans I am startled
So writes Blount in this exuberant,
character-filled saunter through a place
he has loved almost his entire life—a
city “like no other place in America,
and yet (or therefore) the cradle of
American culture.” Here we experience
it through his eyes, ears, and taste
buds: the architecture, music, romance
(yes, sex too), historical characters,
and all that glorious food.
The book is divided into eight Rambles
through different parts of the city.
Each closes with lagniappe—a little
bit extra, a special treat for the reader:
here a brief riff on Gennifer Flowers,
there a meditation on naked dancing.
Blount knows New Orleans like the inside
of an oyster shell and is only too glad
to take us to both the famous and the
infamous sights. He captures all the
wonderful and rich history—culinary,
literary, and political—of a city
that figured prominently in the lives
of Jefferson Davis (who died there),
Truman Capote (who was conceived there),
Zora Neale Hurston (who studied voodoo
there), and countless others, including
Andrew Jackson, Lee Harvey Oswald, William
Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Jelly
Roll Morton, Napoléon, Walt Whitman,
O. Henry, Thomas Wolfe, Earl Long, Randy
Newman, Edgar Degas, Lillian Hellman,
the Boswell Sisters, and the Dixie Cups.
Above all, though, Feet on the
Street is a celebration of friendship
and joie de vivre in one of America’s
greatest and most colorful cities,
written by one of America’s most
From Publishers Weekly
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.
© 1997-2005 Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc.