Los Fieles, Four Thousand Fifteen Days, Fifteen Thousand Feet discussed on 1A with Joshua Johnson


Member of the one a text club road yes I lost my home in a divorce even ten years later the Los fieles devastating to me on a personal level as well as a financial assets my home was in a wonderful community that I've lived in for thirty years I miss it still I purchased my beautiful little lake home is a single mother in the mid nineties and was so proud of myself for being able to do that so I was absolutely got it when I lost it cerebral were you living in the yellow house when Katrina hit so I wasn't I I live in Harlem and at the time was was living in Harlem and working for magazine in New York as a writer I had been home just a few days before the storm hit and and but was back in New York when my family was scattering and one of the things I'm really interested in is you know I wondered how I could tell the story of what it means to not have been home when the storm came to have not been with my family I think there is also for many of us who experience that a trauma and something to be worked through and process where did they scatter to when Katrina que to so many places so to Texas and to Alabama and to California and to Mississippi into Atlanta I think there were six or seven cities that people were were just place to and for many of my siblings you know they some of them haven't yet returned and many of them have only recently returned and you know so there's always a question of who can afford to return and also how New Orleans has changed coming back after the storm the way that we know rents are are higher and in many ways it's harder to live in the city now I definitely want to talk about we're New Orleans is today in a little bit but I'd like you to read a passage from the book get sides I believe the passage on pages three and four right at the front of the book before you read it can you just set up what this passage describes sure so this is from a section called map which is the opening of the book and it's a kind of verbal map I wrote to orient the the reader in this space and in the world that I know best all right your cerebral with that exit from the yellow house from high up fifteen thousand feet above where the aerial photographs are taken forty one twenty one Wilson Avenue the address I know best is a minuscule point a scab of green and satellite images shot from higher still my former street dissolves into the toe of Louisiana spoon from this vantage point our address now might size would appear to sit in the Gulf of Mexico distance Linz perspective but it can also shade misinterpret from these great heights my brother Carl would not be seen all who was also my brother rabbit since his days and nights away at forty one twenty one Wilson Avenue at least five times a week after working his maintenance job at NASA or when he is not fishing or near to the water where he loves to be four thousand fifteen days past the water beyond all news cycles known to man still sits a skinny man in shorts white socks pulled up to his kneecaps one gold picture frame around his front tooth sometimes you can find Kroll alone on our lot poise on an ice chest searching the view as if for a sign as if for a wonder or else seated at a pecan color dining table with intricately carved legs holding court the table where Carl sometimes it says on the spot where our living room used to be but where instead of floor there's green grass trying to grow C. Carl gesturing with the long arm if he feels like it wearing dark shades even if it is night see rapid with his legs crossed at the ankles along like it man nodded up I can see him there now in my mind's eye silent and holding a beer babysitting ruins but that is not his language or sentiment he would never betray the yellow house like that Carl often finds company on Wilson Avenue where he keeps watch friends will arrive in pop their trunks revealing coolers containing spirits on ice help yourself baby they will say if someone has to pee they do it in what used to be our den or they use a bright blue Porta potty sitting at the back of the yard where the shed once was now this plastic vertical bathroom is the only structure on the lot written on its front in white block letters on black background city of New Orleans an excerpt from the opening of the yellow house by Serra broom I take away from that Serra that even though the city doesn't really recognize this house is existing on the map anymore you do and the people to whom the house mattered still do and it's still a place where life goes on I mean the the section is called map and a large part of your book is about sort of remapping New Orleans east and where you live so it doesn't just kind of disappear off of people's memories as well as offer people's maps is that it sure there there is I believe a revolutionary quality to simply telling the story of the people who I know best to live in the area I know which is New Orleans east and I thought of myself in this book as a kind of cryptographer revising and expanding a map of New Orleans so that it contains the world where I grew up you know and it's it's I have a complicated relationship to maps because I know the ways that maps can exclude certain communities I know the historical way that native Americans were essentially written off of a map that belong to them on in some in certain ways and so I wanted to think about how we position ourselves in the city and and and to just hello in a really detailed way the story of these lives so that they could last and and stand the test of time I want to know more about what your reckoning has been with all this as we continue our conversation but I just wanna make sure we're clear for the purposes of going forward after Katrina after you know the levees broke the the city of New Orleans came through bulldozed the house and then like I took it off its records or I wanna make sure I understand we're talking about when we say that the house is no longer maps it is there no record of any more like what what does that mean sure so the house was damaged quite badly and two thousand five after Katrina and in two thousand six the house was demolished by the city without my mother or any of us knowing exactly when it was going to happen so one day my brother Carl who I just read about showed up and the house was simply gone and so we were left to contend with this enormous loss you know many years later I I found went to the city and ask them questions about the house being demolished and they gave me a file that had the demolition records and also had a letter that was in fact sent to the mail box in front of the soon to be demolished house we'll continue our conversation in just a moment with native new Orleanian Serra broom her new memoir is called the yellow house also want to get to some of your questions about the nature of New Orleans and Sir I'd like to get a better sense of your reckoning with all of this and what kind of has driven you to have the conception of your home in your head in your heart that you have now because.

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