Critical Mass

Still Thinking About New Orleans

By Jane Ciabattari

On this fifth anniversary of the beginning of the devastation that we now simply call Katrina, I'm posting links to Thinking About New Orleans, the Critical Mass blog series I began in August 2006, on the first anniversary of the hurricane. I had conversations over several years with a range of New Orleans writers (or writers who were in New Orleans when Katrina hit), including Edgar award wining novelist Tom Adcock, NBCC award winner Blake Bailey, artist/author/editor Brad Benischek, New Orleans native/author/ jazz historian Jason Berry,  Louisiana Writers Award winner and Mystery Writers of America Grand Master Awardee James Lee Burke, NBCC award finalist Joshua Clark, prolific author/editor/NPR commentator Andrei Codrescu, poet/fiction writer/litmag editor Lee Meitzen Grue, who was born in Plaquemines Parish, Orange award winner Valerie Martin, Whiting Award winner (and Stegner fellow) ZZ Packer, novelist/critic/pianist/essayist Tom Piazza, Edgar award winner Julie Smith, and author/actress Kim Sykes, who grew up in the St. Bernard housing projects. Several of them (Adcock, Clark, Grue, Martin and Sykes) took part in an NBCC-sponsored fundraiser I organized in December 2008. Quite a few of them turn their creative energies to writing about Katrina, in memoir and fiction. Take a look at these snapshots of lives being reshaped, revised, and in some cases repurposed. (Incidentally, all but two of these posts from the Critical Mass archives are now available to read for the first time since we shifted from the original Blogger version of Critical Mass to this new blog in late 2008.)