Why New Orleans Matters
(December 6, 2005) - Hurricane Katrina may have forced Yaddo author Tom Piazza from his New Orleans home, but the storm only intensified his love for his adopted hometown, and that deep-felt affection stirred him to write Why New Orleans Matters in record time.
The week after the hurricane hit, from temporary quarters in Missouri, Mr. Piazza began to put on paper his thoughts about why New Orleans is important to those who love the place and why the fight for the city’s future merits the nation’s attention. In just over five weeks, he finished the book-length essay, and HarperCollins published Why New Orleans Matters as a small-format hardcover in November. The book describes the storied past, imperiled present, and uncertain future of New Orleans and explores the city’s undercurrents of corruption, racism, and injustice. It also pays tribute to the spirit of the city’s people and their ability to transcend difficulty. But Mr. Piazza, who is now on a reading tour for Why New Orleans Matters, fears for the spiritual survival of New Orleans, which he says "hangs in the balance."
Frequent trips to New Orleans to check on the "long, slow road back" of his home have kept Mr. Piazza abreast of the overall recovery process in the city, which he has pledged to help rebuild. He and his longtime partner, Mary, hope to return home in January. But he says "the city itself faces a much longer, harder fight, and it can use all the logistical, creative, and financial help anyone can offer." He is hopeful Why New Orleans Matters will boost the morale of those who are now engaged in the battle to save the city.
Mr. Piazza is the author of seven works of fiction and nonfiction, including the widely acclaimed novel My Cold War and the recent Understanding Jazz: Ways to Listen. A graduate of the Iowa Writer’s Workshop, he has written for The New York Times, the Atlantic, Oxford American, and many other publications. He is the recipient of a James Michener Fellowship in Fiction and he won a 2004 Grammy Award for his album notes to Martin Scorcese Presents the Blues: A Musical Journey. Mr. Piazza has been a guest at Yaddo five times, most recently this past spring.
For information about Mr. Piazza’s upcoming readings in New York City, please click here to view the Yaddo Artists' Calendar listings for December 14, 19, and 20.