How can my two weeks of guest boinging be over already? I was just starting to get my blog on, and now it's time to bail. Thanks to Rob, and big big thanks to Xeni. I'll drop one last excerpt of the book on my way out the door. The Year Before The Flood replays the last year the city of New Orleans was whole, 2004-05. As such, it's about the way time passes in the city. (My previous book, The World that Made New Orleans, was about the unique space of the "Crescent City"; constrained from expanding by the swamp, New Orleans was dense and urban from early on.)
The party schedule gets intense. I write elsewhere in the book that New Orleans is "ruled by the year-long cyclical rhythm of festivals, saints' days, parties, and holidays. To relax in between, and to pay for everything, you have a job. It's a relief to go back to work after a big weekend." There's always another Sunday parade coming up. The whole year is modulated by the crescendo toward Mardi Gras, but then come what I heard a WWOZ announcer refer to as "the high holy days between Mardi Gras and Jazzfest."
It's something of a cliché that the past is always present in New Orleans. I used to think that was an overly romantic notion, even as I could feel its truth. Then I learned that cultural historians have a word for this: chronotope, which refers (among other things) to a community's concept of time.