City of refuge lp a novel by tom piazza a very enjoyable read
City of Refuge LP: A Novel by Tom Piazza A Very Enjoyable ReadIn the heat of late summer, two New Orleans families--one black and onewhite--confront a storm that will change the course of their lives. SJ Williams, a carpenter and widower, lives and works in the Lower NinthWard, the community where he was born and raised. His sister, Lucy, is asoulful mess, and SJ has been trying to keep her son, Wesley, out oftrouble. Across town, Craig Donaldson, a Midwestern transplant and theeditor of the citys alternative paper, faces deepening cracks in his ownfamily. New Orleans music and culture have been Craigs passion, but hiswife, Alice, has never felt comfortable in the city. The arrival of their twochildren has inflamed their arguments about the wisdom of raising a familythere. When the news comes of a gathering hurricane--named Katrina--the twofamilies make their own very different plans to weather the storm. The
Donaldsons join the long evacuation convoy north, across LakePontchartrain and out of the city. SJ boards up his windows and bringsLucy to his house, where they wait it out together, while Wesley stays witha friend in another part of town. But the long night of wind and rain is only the beginning--and when thelevees give way and the flood waters come, the fate of each familychanges forever. The Williamses are scattered--first to the ConventionCenter and the sweltering Superdome, and then far beyond city and statelines, where they struggle to reconnect with one another. The Donaldsons,stranded and anxious themselves, find shelter first in Mississippi, then inChicago, as Craig faces an impossible choice between the city he lovesand the family he had hoped to raise there. Ranging from the lush neighborhoods of New Orleans to Texas, Missouri,Chicago, and beyond, City of Refuge is a modern masterpiece--apanoramic novel of family and community, trial and resilience, told withpassion, wisdom, and a deep understanding of American life in our time. Editorial Reviews Piazza knows New Orleans, its flavors and aromas, music and magic,pragmatism and joie de vivre. He also understands the full tragedy ofHurricane Katrina. . . . In unforgettable scenes of biblical conseque nce,Piazza dramatizes more devastatingly than any journalistic account thehurricane’s shocking aftermath, aligning the failure to protect, rescue, andrespect the people of the Lower Ninth with the sweeping brutality of war.By following his characters i nto the Katrina Diaspora and back again,Piazza tells a towering tale of self, family, and place, a story as old andheartbreaking as humankind itself. --Booklist (Starred Review) City of Refuge is an old-fashioned, realistic novel of New Orleans, withall the sensuousness, all the flash-point tumult, the easy-yet-hard-wonvirtue of the city, as well all the forthrightness, the deftness and affirmingintensity of the form. People ask me when will Katrina begin to inform ourart, when will imagination become essential to tell what the raw facts cant.Well, heres an answer: now. City of Refuge speaks eloquently into thatsilence. --Richard Ford To read City of Refuge is to realize that this is what fiction is for: to takeus to places the cameras cant go. The novels characters--and whathappens to them--are unforgettable, and so is the portrait of New Orleans,the city Tom Piazza clearly loves with all his large, generous heart. --Richard Russo City of Refuge is a tremendously moving book. While reading it you willhave to fight the urge to skip ahead to see what happened, and to whom.This is true even though we all know on a general level what happenedduring Hurricane Katrina; Piazza takes what we know to a deeper, more
human level. There are books that give back to art and there are booksthat give back to life--this book is among the latter. --Mary Gaitskill Whatever Tom Piazza writes is touched with magic. As a formerlongtime New Orleans resident, I was astounded at how brillia ntly Piazzacaptured (in vivid detail) the nuances of his City of Refuge. Although this isostensibly a Katrina novel, Piazza transcends genre or pigeonholing inwhat is one of the most deeply humanistic portraits of people coping withcataclysm since The Grapes of Wrath. – Douglas Brinkley City of Refuge is a stunning, irresistibly absorbing novel. A dramatic taleabout the ravaging impact of Hurricane Katrina, it is also an ode to theineradicable beauties of a beloved American city and the resilienc e of itsresidents. --Joanna Scott Tom Piazzas City of Refuge is a great read--sweeping and intimate,elegiac and angry, serving as lyrical witness to the destruction andrecovery of a great city. --Jess Walter Like the city he writes about, Tom Piazzas new book is beautiful,harrowing, compassionate, and complex. City of Refuge does what allgreat American novels must do: it gives voice to the voiceless andremembers the stories the politicians want us to forget. The future ofAmerican fiction--and perhaps America--depends on novelists who can tellus stories like this. --Dean Bakopoulos The Story Behind City of Refuge, by Tom Piazza City ofRefuge pretty much insisted on being written. I didn’t sit down one day andthink, How can I write a novel about Hurricane Katrina? In some ways, itwas the last thing I wanted to do. Immediately after Katrina, in September 2005, while my partner Mary andI were evacuated to Missouri from our home in New Orleans, I beganwriting my short book Why New Orleans Matters. It was completed in fiveweeks, and HarperCollins published it that November. After it waspublished, I found that I had turned into a kind of spokesman for NewOrleans’ recovery; I crisscrossed the country for months, speaking atcolleges, doing television and radio interviews, all of that. I was proud to doit, and I considered it a privilege. But by the spring of 2006 I was a little burned out on speaking about NewOrleans. I needed time to process my own emotional trauma from thestorm. Sometime that March, Sweet Briar College in Virginia invited me tovisit and do a fiction workshop and a public talk on New Orleans. Alongwith that engagement came a gift: two weeks’ residency at the VirginiaCenter for the Creative Arts--time to mend, reflect, and think about whatlife might look like after this disaster. Friends ha d died, friends had losteverything, Mary’s house had been flooded, the house I rented had been
damaged and was unlivable for six months. There was a lot to think about,a lot to reckon with. Then something strange happened. On my way to Virginia, thecharacters in City of Refuge began appearing in my mind with an almosthallucinatory immediacy. I could see them--Lucy, SJ, Craig and Annie andAlice, Wesley--with an eerie clarity. SJ, a carpenter in the Lower NinthWard, working on his house on a hot August afternoon, Craig, aMidwestern transplant to New Orleans, taking his seven year-old daughterAnnie to a street parade, SJ’s sister Lucy waking up at an evacuee campin Missouri and not knowing where she was….. I could see them all, hearthem all, and everything I was seeing and hearing felt urgent andimportant. In nine days at Virginia Center I wrote ten thousand words about thesecharacters, as well as a complete synopsis of what happened to them,starting about a week before Katrina and ending right around Mardi Grassix months later. I have never had a writing experience like that, and Iwon’t count on having another one like it anytime soon. ItPersonal Review: City of Refuge LP: A Novel by Tom PiazzaIts been a week since I finished City of Refuge and I am still thinking aboutthe characters and their experiences. For me, this is the mark of a trulymemorable reading experience - rare in this day of disposable fiction.Like most of those posting here, I did not experience Hurricane Katrinafirsthand. I watched the coverage on CNN, horrified by the scenes ofdevastation and human suffering that unfolded before my eyes. I tried toimagine what it had to be like for those who found themselves trapped intheir attics or on their roofs. I cried for those lost. And I raged against anadministration that would treat this catastrophe with such disregard. This isAmerica, I thought as I watched displaced residents begging for food andhelp from anyone who could give it to them. Why is my government notthere to help them, I cried?City of Refuge brought it all back and more. Not only is the story of actualflood survivors brilliantly depicted, the author has also given us a glimpseinto the lives of those displaced by the storm - lucky enough not to loseeverything, but still placed in a difficult situation. The juxtaposition of thetwo stories emphasizes how different life can be for the haves and thehave nots.I really enjoyed the authors detailed descriptions of New Orleans - beforeand after. However, words really cannot convey the scope of thedevastation, and I found myself researching locations noted in the book tosee exactly how they were impacted by the storm. What I found gavefurther meaning to the book.
Check out Google maps and search for any one of the streets in thecharacter SJs neighborhood (Tennessee St. is a good place to start).Google maps satellite view shows the area after the storm, before anydemolition occurred. What you find will shock you. Street after street withhouses shattered and tossed about like trash. Then, look at the streetviews of the same locations. There is nothing left, just vacant lots whereonce there was a thriving community.To me, the mark of an outstanding work of fiction is that it makes me think,feel, and want to know more. City of Refuge is all that and more. Kudos toTom Piazza for bringing us into the eye of the storm. We cannot forgetwhat happened three years ago and must pledge that nothing like this everhappens in our country again. For More 5 Star Customer Reviews and Lowest Price:City of Refuge LP: A Novel by Tom Piazza 5 Star Customer Reviews and Lowest Price!