Unfathomable City

Unfathomable City: A New Orleans AtlasUnfathomable City: A New Orleans Atlas by Rebecca Solnit

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I wrote an earlier review of this book ( I keep busy) and have now decided to update it since receiving the actual published book as I used the advanced reader copy for the previous review and now after reading more of it in a different location than the last time and viewing all of the maps that weren’t in the ARC and let me share that I did all of that new stuff all on All Saints Day, no less. Told you: multitudes.

I decided to do it without the cranky insertion of MY New Orleans up front that was in the previous review and to simply state that it’s a well designed, well-edited and at times beautifully written and illustrated homage to our mysterious city.
This book gives credit where credit is due. To the city’s geography, to its outlandish robber barons of bananas and oil, to the nameless and named that have brought us and bring us music, food, and public displays and joy and sorrow and pain and punishment. It neatly shows a number of juxtapositions that may be uncomfortable for some to view and others that are certainly unfathomable, but it does show them. There. credit given.
Now, back to me:
If you look through my reviews, you can spot a certain fondness for maps. I love them and love poring over them before, during or in spite of actually traveling to the place depicted.
If you read my reviews, you will no doubt spot a serious fondness for essayists. I admire what seems to me to be honest human bravery in extending a point or a purpose to a new end. Taking a walk with an author is how I visualize an essay, and yes there are times that I turn back before getting to the end, but I still appreciate the offer. So maps and essays seem like two sides of one coin and when put together well can alter or color each other’s point and purpose.

So that this is a book of illusory and real maps combined with odd and delightful essays, edited by two sensitive writers is enough for me to tell you.

Let me let the writers and artists tell you themselves in essays and maps such as:

Civil rights and Lemon Ice

Hot and Steamy: Selling Seafood and Selling Sex

Ebb and Flow: Migrations of the Houma, Erosions of the Coast

Juju and Cuckoo: Taking Care of Crazy

Stationary Revelations: Sites of Contemplation and Delight

The first essays introducing this book are alone worth poring over and sharing; how often is that true? That should tell you about the care and thought put into this entire work and offer the best reason to plunk down your money, open it and thumb through while having a Pimm’s or a coffee in front of you, tucked away in a shady corner of our shared city. Enjoy it all.

View all my reviews

Advertisements

About DW

New Orleans resident, writer, activist. Public market consultant.

One thought on “Unfathomable City

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s