Tuesday, September 2, 2008

New Orleans Lives! Ignatius J. Reilly Defeats Gustav


Nearly three full years ago, I wrote about the statue of Ignatius J. Reilly -- the hero from John Kennedy Toole's Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, ''A Confederacy of Dunces" -- surviving Hurricane Katrina.

So, please, someone explain to me why it is that it seems only hurricanes with European names trying to destroy New Orleans? Katrina...Gustav?

According to the FEMA for Kids web page that explains how hurricanes are named, the names must be either French, Spanish or English (all the languages of the Caribbean), but isn't Gustav distinctly Swedish? Hmmmm...did you also know that a particularly devastating hurricane has it's name "retired," like a Hall of Fame baseball player might have their jersey number retired.

In my experience, most anyone whose visited New Orleans has fallen in love with the city. For starters, it's helluva lot of fun: The food is phenomenal, the music is great and there are innumerable other unmentionable temptations.

But don't forget: NO is also one of the best book towns in the US, with more than it's share of world class bookstores, including Maple Street Book Shop (check out their homage to Walker Percy), the Garden District Book Shop, Octavia Books and Faulkner House Books.

After Katrina, the bookstores were among the first businesses to reopen after the storm and did a roaring business as residents sought out material to take their minds off their tragedy and tried to restock their libraries. (Katrina also forced the closure of Beacoup Books, may it rest in peace and the the Afro-American Book Stop, which reopened only two months ago).

Fortunately for us all, Gustav spared the city and Ignatious J. Reilly remains in his hat and scarf, bag in hand, waiting for his mother, still vigilant over the city he both he helped to define.

2 comments:

Bärbel said...
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Bärbel said...

I could not resist the temptation to comment on the names for hurricanes...
Although Gustav might be Swedish initially, it reminded me of German actor Gustav Gruendgens, who was always associated with the Nazi regime and was famous for his performance as Mephistipheles in Goethe's Faust.
And aren't America's movies full of German villains? Just see Die Hard or the Indiana Jones sequels. What would make a better name for a true destroyer?

In fact there is one! I know it's not really something to make fun about, but far back in the 80s there was a one-hit-wonder band in Europe which I truly hated. The name "Katrina and the Waves"...