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Eh How s that for a rousing review.Two problems with this one, Reed hasn t decided what sort of book she s writing It s billed as a renovating my dream house oh no Hurricane Katrina But both elements are presented in a pretty superficial manner And Reed s house wasn t really damaged by Katrina I think a window broke or something So she basically camps at her parents in Mississppi and goes back and forth and does some touristy journalisty visits to badly flooded areas That s not to minimize her trauma, nor, of course, that of the many other people who suffered But she never goes deep enough for me to feel it.Two, she s a relentless name dropper, of people, places, and things I suspect this is a holdover from her life as a journalist, reviewing lots of restaurants and such But she comes off as someone who s trying to cram as many details in a very brief book as possible to provide authenticity to give herself credibility who knows But I grew tired of it and started to judge her for it I know, I m a bad person. This little book is a love letter to New Orleans After traveling the world as a journalist, author Julia Reed moves into the garden district of NO right before Katrina This is her story of rebuilding I think I would have rated this book 4 stars if I had any knowledge whatsoever of NO She is a big name dropper for restaurants, bars, parades, and important people about town She seems to know everyone My favorite line comes when she finds out her house has only one broken window A feeling of utter unworhtiness and complete relief I think that would be exactly how I would feel too A must read if you love NO, otherwise, a sweet love note. What a load of first world, white girl crap I read the entire thing because I couldn t believe an entire book would go on this way The only small, tiny, minuscule milifraction of a redeeming quality a few sentences worth of historical detail The rest a major Cosmo page turner born from timely sensationalist greed, suckling at the disastrous misfortune and decimation of a populous I hope each family waiting for FEMA relief was distributed a copy with which to wipe their asses. I enjoyed this book but I had to put aside the fact that the author seems a bit out of it Her perspective on Hurricane Katrina seems to be that of an elitist restaurant goer She talked a little bit about the class structure and inept leadership that lead to the catastrophy following the storm, but mostly this was a self involved book about buying a great house, oh look it survived a hurricane , did I mention we had a terrible contractor that I kept on for no reason , oh and look, I m friends with a drug user so I KNOW about hardship Of course, it WAS interesting if you like old houses, New Orleans, and renovation stories It wasn t all bad, honestly, I just don t think I would be able to be friends with the author. Reed s contribution to the ever growing body of work about Katrina is distinguished by its elegance and wit, as well as its poignancy and civic mindedness Told by a 40 something woman of privilege, one who could afford a TV watching companion for her cat while Reed led a split existence between the Big Apple and the Big Easy, she is ultimately a woman without any true home until she moves permanently to New Orleans and finds, first, true love, and then, the city of her heart in ruins.Reed, a contributing editor to both NEWSWEEK and VOGUE, was born in what was the wealthiest, most urbane city in the Mississippi Delta Greenville, also the native ground of Shelby Foote and Walker Percy, was, like its larger, sophisticated sister to the south, nearly destroyed by the Mississippi River flood of 1927 Thus it s in keeping that a beautiful but decaying New Orleans house owned by another Percy becomes home to Reed and her new husband just weeks before Katrina hits.The house remains a wreck, though largely unscathed by Katrina, and the horrors of home renovation and the devastation wreaked elsewhere in the city are almost a match for Reed s descriptions of the glorious, spiritual delights of food She chronicles with obvious glee the progressively better meals she manages to offer an entire contingent of Oklahoma National Guardsmen stationed down the block to fend off looters at a time when almost no city stores are open and no city, state, local or federal officials are to be seen.Despite Reed s self deprecating generosity, also seen in her loving commitment to both new and lifelong friends, to neighbors, to various people who have worked for her, and to an improbably sweet natured crackhead she tries again and again to redeem, Reed ensures that we do not mistake her for Mother Teresa The tantrums she throws at contractors attract neighbors and passing cars she lapses into what she later concedes is a Marie Antoinette moment while she cleans out the rotted contents of her predictably stuffed refrigerator after 12 electricity free days and her scorn for then Louisiana governor Kathleen Blanco and Nagin practically curls the pages.Some readers will be tempted to condemn THE HOUSE ON FIRST STREET as trivial or paternalistic in comparison, for example, to a book like Phyllis Montana Leblanc s NOT JUST THE LEVEES BROKE But Reed marries, and finds her place in New Orleans, to earn what Montana Leblanc possesses at the beginning and end of her tale a family and roots too deep for any hurricane to destroy, despite the anger and tears and grievous loss wrought by our country s greatest natural disaster originally published in BookPage I love Julia Reed This is a wonderful story of NOLA before and after Katrina Julia did an amazing job of telling the aftermath of a great hurricane that I did not know She writes about the city she loves and the chefs, restaurants, friends and the workers on her house on First Street I wanted to know and I am sure there is. |Ebook ☳ The House on First Street: My New Orleans Story ☧ Julia Reed Went To New Orleans In To Cover The Reelection Of Former And Currently Incarcerated Governor Edwin Edwards Seduced By The City S Sauntering Pace, Its Rich Flavors And Exotic Atmosphere, She Was Never Entirely Able To Leave Again After Almost Fifteen Years Of Living Like A Vagabond On Her Reporter S Schedule, She Got Married And Bought A House In The Historic Garden District Four Weeks After She Moved In, Hurricane Katrina StruckWith Her House As The Center Of Her Own Personal Storm As Well As The Ever Evolving Stage Set For Her New Life As An Upstanding Citizen, Reed Traces The Fates Of All Who Enter To Wine, Dine At Her Table For Twenty Four , Tear Down Walls, Install Fixtures, Throw Fits And Generally Leave Their Mark On The House On First Street There S Antoine, Reed S Beloved Homeless Handyman With An Unfortunate Habit Of Landing In Jail JoAnn Clevenger, The Auntie Mame Like Restaurateur Who Got Her Start Mixing Drinks For Dizzy Gillespie And Selling Flowers From A Cart Eddie, The Supremely Laid Back Contractor With Hollywood Ambitions And, With The Arrival Of Katrina, The Boys From The Oklahoma National Guard, Fleets Of Door Kicking Animal Rescuers And The Self Appointed And Occasionally Naked Neighborhood Watchman Finally, There S The Literally Clueless Detective Who Investigates The Robbery In Which The First Draft Of This Book Was Stolen Through It All, Reed Discovers There Really Is No Place Like HomeRich With Sumptuous Details And With The Author S Trademark Humor Well In The Fore, The House On First Street Is The Chronicle Of A Remarkable And Often Hilarious Homecoming, As Well As A Thoroughly Original Tribute To Our Country S Most Original City This was a quick read about the author s post Katrina experiences, bookended by housing renovations woes If you re not familiar with NOLA or don t care about the city s top chefs or restaurants, you can probably skip this book There was a lot of We ate XX at XX s restaurant XXl Heavy on name dropping of well off or well known friends and constant reminders of the author s own wealth and fairly easy lifestyle make it hard to feel any sympathy for her To be fair, she doesn t ever ASK for your sympathy to her many many housing woes and frequently points out that she knows how much worse things could ve been for her, how lucky she really was It serves as a good example of how wealth and race, particularly in a city as divided by both as New Orleans, determines so much of a person s ability to cope with and survive disasters Thankfully the majority of the book focusses on New Orleans and Katrina than on her home renovation because really Who cares about the stone she chose for her yard or how many times she had to repaint the dining room I ve read a lot of books on Nola and there are far better reads than this selection if you re looking to learn about the city or the fallout of the levees failing Those books can be dark in their brutal honesty of the devastation that took place This book does not do that, instead focusing on the first ones that pulled themselves back up after the storm coincidentally mostly white, well off business owners It touches on the tragedies without being depressing, so a lot of it feels glossed over That fits with the purpose of the book though, this wasn t a book that was written to show the true aftermath of such a tragedy If anything it shows that life no matter how much we may feel like it should pause for a moment goes on If you want a real look at New Orleans or the effects of Katrina, pick up Tom Piazza s Why New Orleans Matters or Chris Rose s One Dead in Attic Both are much better books. Reed writes for Vogue, which did an excerpt of this book early on At that point it was an ode to her Garden District house, which she d just moved into and was remodeling, with much detail about her scurrilous contractors and expensive furnishings And then Katrina hit, so it became a story about surviving the hurricane and chronicling the city s recovery It s mildly interesting, but I m put off by Reed s constant name dropping, parenthetical explanations, and restaurant reviews Sentences have the form of And then I met A who was the person who married B, formerly the governor of C and sister in law of D , who helped us drink wines E F and G at Restaurant H, which is owned by I, who also owns Restaurants J and K, and whose chef is L, formerly of restaurant M, and moved here from California I don t give a hoot.There are interesting little details, like she says that one of the trials of post hurricane recovery was cleaning out one s refrigerator, since the heat was oppressive and the power was off for about a month Thousands of refrigerators were unsalvageable When she wrote that piece for Vogue, apparently the editor there nixed it for being too let them eat cake While the detail is interesting, I agree with that editor, and would apply the criticism to much of the rest of the book too While Reed obviously loves her city, and does some civic work to help restore it, she comes off as extraordinarily affluent and very self absorbed. This book is strongest when the author is sticking to her journalistic roots At one point she mentions that one of her editors makes her strike a passage from a piece on cleaning her vile fridge after Katrina, which was her only real loss, because it is her Marie Antoinette moment The book is very Marie Antoinette I was too young to care when the Edwin Edwards hoopla was all happening, and her insights into his campaigns is phenomenal I understood a lot , and I want to look into details now But this book is written by a yuppie with yuppies in mind, for the most part Whine whine whine..I have a bad contractorwoe is meboohoothis contractor stinkswhine whine whineHere s the deal, lady You chose to buy a dilapidated home and fix it before Katrina After Katrina, there were a lot of people who needed way help than you did, and not by choice Be thankful you had who and what you had My father lost his business and was out of work for 10 months, battling with permits and contractors and electricians and plumbers and the like Definitely not by choice He got screwed a few times, too, and you know what he did He fired those people and hired new ones BAM But, for the most part, I enjoyed it.