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376 pages, Hardcover
First published August 13, 2019
... much of what is great and praised about the city comes at the expense of its native black people, who are, more often than not, underemployed, underpaid, sometimes suffocated by the mythology that hides the city’s dysfunction and hopelessness.This is a story of New Orleans that is not included in the tourist brochures. In some ways the fate of the yellow house is symbolic of the city. The house was heavily used and in chronic disrepair to such a point that the family was ashamed of it and wouldn’t let acquaintances visit them there. Likewise much about the city—levees in particular— were in need of repair and consequently succumbed to Katrina.
Before the storm, New Orleans had the highest proportion of native-born residents of an American city—seventy-seven percent in 2000, which meant that only a small fraction of New Orleanians ever left for elsewhere. This was why the mass displacement meant so much.This book contains the first person narrative of the author describing her own experience of “speaking in tongues.”
Tongues was interiority writ large. You had to do it without shame, with no self-consciousness whatsoever. The only control was in letting go. Then you gave yourself over to it, it came bubbling out from you, this foreign language you did not need to study for, that was specific to your tongue, and that you did not know you spoke—until you did.The author goes on to describe the experience of getting “drunk” in the spirit.
I describe this without irony and without sarcasm for I was one of the drunk. … When Pastor Frank came to you in line, energized and speaking in tongues, laughing and praying, you would almost immediately fall down …But it didn’t last long. Within the year the author was finished with this stuff.
By the start of 1997, I had sworn off church. They call it backsliding.These experiences with religion were from her teenage years. This book contains no hint of an interest in religion after her high school years.