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1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina

by Chris Rose

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
5342632,669 (4.19)56
"1 Dead in Attic is a collection of stories by Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose, recounting the first harrowing year and a half of life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Celebrated as a local treasure and heaped with national praise, Rose provides a rollercoaster ride of observation, commentary, emotion, tragedy, and even humor--in a way that only he could find in a devastated wasteland. They are stories of the dead and the living, stories of survivors and believers, stories of hope and despair. And stories about refrigerators. 1 Dead in Attic freeze-frames New Orleans, caught between an old era and a new one, during its most desperate time, as it struggles out of the floodwaters and wills itself back to life."--Page 4 of cover.… (more)
  1. 00
    Zeitoun by Dave Eggers (BookshelfMonstrosity)
    BookshelfMonstrosity: A columnist for the New Orleans Times-Picayune, Rose delves into the aftereffects of the storm on his adopted city in this compelling collection of essays.
  2. 00
    Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans by Dan Baum (lilithcat)
  3. 00
    Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans? by David Rutledge (lilithcat)
    lilithcat: These are two of the most powerful books about Katrina I've read, probably because they were written in the immediate aftermath of the hurricane. They don't have an agenda, except, perhaps to tell the truth about what happened, from very personal points of view.… (more)
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» See also 56 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
Award winning Times Picayune columnist Chris Rose was literally embedded with his story, fleeing hurricane Katrina right before it hit. He sent his family to safety in Maryland while he continued to live, work and report on life in New Orleans in the months that followed. This is a compilation of his columns which still appeared when the Picayune could only publish on-line for a time in the aftermath of the storm. It's difficult to maintain journalistic objectivity when you're living the story, so Rose can hardly be blamed for the toll his reporting took on him personally. It's a harrowing story that doesn't shy away from the horror or the hope. ( )
  varielle | Jul 23, 2019 |
This sounds like a ridiculous criticism given the subject matter, but I found this book far too sentimental. Chris Rose was a beat reporter at the Times-Picayune when Hurricane Katrina smashed into New Orleans, and in the aftermath he started writing these short columns about how the city was recovering and how the community was coping; they're supposed to be snippets of personal commentary rather than journalism per se, which perhaps explains the register. Nevertheless, for me the saccharine emotionality of Rose's writing detracted from, rather than reinforced, the impact of what he was describing.

In an open letter to ‘America’, published in September of '05, he introduces the area in a way that gives you a good idea of his general tone:

I suppose we should introduce ourselves: we're South Louisiana.

We have arrived on your doorstep on short notice and we apologize for that, but we were never much for waiting around for invitations. We're not much on formalities like that. …

We're a fiercely proud and independent people, and we don't cotton much to outside interference, but we're not ashamed to accept help when we need it. And right now, we need it. …

When you meet us now and you look into our eyes, you will see the saddest story ever told. Our hearts are broken into a thousand pieces.

But don't pity us. We're gonna make it. We're resilient. After all, we've been rooting for the Saints for thirty-five years. That's gotta count for something. …

So when all this is over and we move back home, we will repay you the hospitality and generosity of spirit you offer us in this season of our despair.

That is our promise. That is our faith.


There's really two options when writing about very serious and traumatic situations: either you become as dry as humanly possible (on several occasions I've sat in newsrooms next to people who were openly sobbing as they typed up their notes, but to read their report you'd think they were observing what happened from a distant satellite, not covered in blood and shit in the middle of what was happening – and the story became devastating through that distance); or, you go full gonzo and do a first-person subjective immersion à la Tom Wolfe or Hunter S Thompson.

Rose chooses not to attempt the former, and is not able to do the latter because, as he says, he himself suffered nothing more serious that a broken drainpipe on his house. So he's stuck in this awkward no-man's-land, inhabiting a kind of borrowed communal misery, buttressed with folky false modesty and clichés of determination, which is completely understandable and even admirable but which doesn't make for powerful journalism.

I feel really bad criticising this, since it's obvious that Rose was utterly traumatised by Katrina – ‘it beat the shit out of me,’ he says – and indeed, a lot of what is in here reads less like a chronicle of a ruined city, and more like a chronicle of someone succumbing to PTSD. (Rose in fact became addicted to antidepressants during this period and separated from his wife.) Still, I wish there had been a little more journalistic examination of the situation – the class and race issues which Katrina brought into such sharp relief are almost entirely absent here.

These columns do make for a revealing snapshot of what a city looks like after a big disaster (so much of what was in here reminded me of being in Port-au-Prince after the earthquake), with the lines of refrigerators on the streets, the fallen trees, the smell of masonry dust and decomposition, the hair-trigger emotions of everyone left. It's partly an audience problem. These pieces didn't connect well with me as an outsider, but when Rose wrote them, they were aimed at his fellow Louisianans, and for that audience who understood exactly what he was going through they probably worked really well. ( )
1 vote Widsith | Mar 8, 2019 |
Katrina happened nine years after I had moved away. I resisted my instant urge to return and try to help, but it was very hard to watch the misery daily and from a distance. Chris Rose's moving and truthful book (which is indeed raw, as another reviewer said) documents the experience in such intimate (and to a former resident, familiar) ways that I felt almost that I had been there. If you love New Orleans deeply, read this book.
1 vote laursand | Jul 31, 2017 |
This book is only 364 pages, which I usually read in a day or two at most. This book took me three months. Rose is a journalist and this is a compilation of columns he wrote post-Katrina. It's raw. So raw that I had to be very careful how much I read, because it was too heavy sometimes. But it's IMPORTANT. If you've been to New Orleans, even now, 10 years later, it's not over completely. There are still neighborhoods that are dead and will not recover.

But the spirit, what makes New Orleans, didn't die and it's here, in this recounting of disaster, that I see again how much New Orleans means to those who love her. The moments of finding her soul again, despite the destruction.

If you love NOLA, this is important to read. It's part of her now. ( )
2 vote amaryann21 | Apr 12, 2016 |
When I moved to New Orleans in 2010, one of the TV stations was running these "Guess who's back!" ads to promote the return of someone famous, quintessentially New Orleans, and much beloved. After weeks of this, the mystery person joining the news team was revealed! And it was a bitter-looking, sardonic man. It was Chris Rose. I did not make an effort to watch his segments.

A little more than three years later, I'm preparing to move onto the next phase in my life - out of New Orleans. I have avoided reading the "Katrina stories" because the city has seemed so invigorated that I didn't want to return to the bleak past, but I figured it was time to read one while I'm still here and can personally envision what happened.

Chris Rose is a beautiful and talented writer. I'm sorry I ever doubted him.

At the beginning of the book I was a little put off by his perspective - he lives Uptown (as do I, full disclosure) where people's homes survived, and by extension, the people in them. How much suffering did he really go through? What does he know? How would he understand?

It quickly becomes evident, though, that he internalizes the city's pain and makes it a part of himself. He spends inordinate amount of time in the ruined, rotten parts of the city so he CAN understand. He becomes the voice of pain - literally.

He eventually admits his struggle with depression - one look at him tells you that he's the guy who scoffs at mental illness as a character flaw, and he fesses up to that, point blank. And though I don't want to encourage ANYONE to live with depression, I thank him for using his considerable talents to put words to the pain so many felt during that time.

What a story. ( )
1 vote tulikangaroo | Sep 24, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 26 (next | show all)
The physical and psychic dislocation wrought by Hurricane Katrina is painstakingly recollected in this brilliant collection of columns by award-winning New Orleans Times Picayune columnist Rose (who has already hand-sold 60,000 self-published copies).
added by hipdeep | editPublishers Weekly (Dec 31, 2007)
 
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This book is dedicated to Thomas Coleman, a retired longshoreman, who died in his attic at 2214 St. Roch Avenue in New Orleans' 8th ward on or about August 29, 2005. He had a can of juice and a bedspread at his side when the waters rose.

There were more than a thousand like him.
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Dear America, I suppose we should introduce ourselves: we're South Louisiana. We have arrived on your doorstep on short notice and we apologize for that, but we were never much for waiting around for invitations.
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"1 Dead in Attic is a collection of stories by Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose, recounting the first harrowing year and a half of life in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Celebrated as a local treasure and heaped with national praise, Rose provides a rollercoaster ride of observation, commentary, emotion, tragedy, and even humor--in a way that only he could find in a devastated wasteland. They are stories of the dead and the living, stories of survivors and believers, stories of hope and despair. And stories about refrigerators. 1 Dead in Attic freeze-frames New Orleans, caught between an old era and a new one, during its most desperate time, as it struggles out of the floodwaters and wills itself back to life."--Page 4 of cover.

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