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Sunday Odds & Ends

In recent weeks, I've tried hard to find compassion for the people who haven't come back to New Orleans yet. It's easy to sympathize with people who, for logistical or financial reasons, simply can't come back: no money, no place to live, health problems beyond the scope of what our severely compromised medical infrastructure can handle. My patience is tried, though, by a couple of the people in this article, who seem to be saying, "I'll stay in this other, easier place until you guys have done all the work of rebuilding New Orleans; then maybe I'll consider coming back." You know what? I think we can probably scrape by without you (though my heart does go out to the guy waffling around with his Saints jersey). The same goes for the white people who have allegedly decided not to return because of Nagin's "chocolate city" speech; if that's enough to keep you away, you don't have the intestinal fortitude to live here right now anyway.

But never mind. The viewing stands are going up on St. Charles Avenue, there are pirates in the streets, and debutantes are dressing up as bridges. It's Carnival time! I don't give a good goddamn if some people think the money would be better spent elsewhere or if it sends "the wrong message" to the rest of the country; we as a city need this Carnival more than we need anything in the world except levees, and it is going to be a great one, maybe the best ever.

The literate bloggers' topic of the day seems to be American Book Review's Best 100 First Lines from Novels. I agree with some of these (A Tale of Two Cities has probably my favorite opening sentence ever) and suspect that some of the others owe a great deal to the power of the subsequent second through nth lines -- for instance, though Catch-22 is one of my all-time favorite novels, I could not have told you right off that its first line was, "It was love at first sight," and I don't find anything inherently powerful about the line; its humor and depth come from its context. Then again, I think Harold Bloom's an idiot and don't believe anyone who wrote a first novel as dreadful as Dale Peck's Martin and John is remotely qualified to write silly self-proclaimed "hatchet job" reviews of other novels*, so what the hell do I know about literature?


*No, Peck hasn't hatcheted one of mine that I know of -- I doubt I'm important enough to make a blip on his radar screen -- but if he did, I'd be in good company, and there's precious little sting in being called a bad writer by a bad writer.

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