Weekly Geeks – Literature in New Olreans

cathedralWeekly Geeks asks us to post all about literature that takes place in our hometown, is inspired by our hometown, or is written by authors from our home town! I could make this a huge post, but I’ll just post about some of my favorites. New Orleans is a city that lends itself very well to literature. It’s a dark and mysterious city, it’s as unique of a city as they come, and it has a fascinating history. I complain about my city quite a bit, but I doubt that I could find another city that I love as much as New Orleans when it comes down to it.

Most people think of A Confedarcy of Dunces when they think of New Orleans literature. Or they think of the plays of Tennessee Williams. Both are literary references that we pride ourselves on. In fact, we have a Tennessee Williams festival every year down here (yes we use anything as a reason to get drunk) that includes a Stella! screaming contest πŸ™‚ And one of my favorite fine dining restaurants down here is a little place called Stella that’s in the French Quarter.

annericeshouseWhen I think of New Orleans literature though, I can’t help but think of horror and gothic novels. I think they capture the feel of the city perfectly. And who else but Anne Rice can capture it so well. I was truly sad when Anne Rice decided to stop writing horror novels and instead focused on Christian novels after she was “born again”. But to each their own. Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles (starting with Interview With a Vampire) take place in New Orleans for the most part, but I think that her Mayfair Witches series, which begins with The Witching Hour, is the greatest feat in New Orleans literature. If you want to know the feeling of New Olreans, read the Witching Hour. Not only is it amazing book, but it caputres our city perfectly. The mystery, the intrigue, the haunted past, the haunted present. It fantastic. The house that the Mayfair Witches live in is actually based on her own house, seen here on the left. I’ve visited her house many times. It’s located in a part of New Orleans called The Garden District and the houses are absolutely gorgeous. It’s all traditional New Orleans architecture with tons of old beautiful trees.

If Anne Rice isn’t your cup of tea and you want your vampires a little more risque, you can go with Poppy Z. Brite. She’s another local author that has since changed her tone quite a bit, but still focuses on New Orleans. She captures it well too. My favorite books of hers are her early vampire books, Lost Souls and Drawing Blood. She’s now writing more about the food scene in New Orleans with novels like Liquor and there is a lot to write about there as well!

I’m just discovering a series all about voodoo written by a fantastic author named Jewell Parker Rhodes. I’m reading Voodoo laveauSeason, which is actually the sequel to Voodoo Dreams, but it works really well as a stand alone novel. I’ve always been fascinated by Marie Laveau. She’s our voodoo queen and everywhere you go in New Orleans you’ll find voodoo shops…shops that cater to tourists and some that cater to people who still practice voodoo. I highly recommend Rhodes’ books from what I’ve read so far. They’re stunning and do a wonderful job of capturing that ehthereal feeling that New Orleans gives where the line between the living and the dead is relatively thin. Marie Laveau’s grave is located in St. Louis Cemetery #1 and it’s a place that people flock to still when they’re having problems or seeking help. The picture of her grave is to your left. It’s a tradition to say a prayer to Laveau, light a candle beneath her grave, and draw an “X” on her tomb. And yes, we bury our people above ground in New Orleans :p

So that’s all of the tour for now! But I know I could think of plenty more! These are just the big names that popped into my head. If anyone wants to come visit, I’ll give you a personalized tour of all of the literary spots here πŸ˜‰

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26 Responses

  1. The idea of a Stella screaming contest cracks me up!

    So your post makes me want to visit New Orleans. It used to be high on my list of must-see places, but after Katrina it fell off the list. But these pictures, especially the Garden District… *sigh*

  2. Anne Rice is the first thing I thought of! Great post and great pics I’ve always wanted to visit New Orleans.

  3. Softdrink, If it cracks you up just hearing about it, you should see it live :p It’s great! People just screaming “Stellllaaaaaaaaaa” in the middle of the street :p Katrina did a lot of damage to our tourism 😦 No one wants to come here anymore. But we’ve come back for the most part and it’s a great city still! Can’t say much for the government, but the people are great. I LOVE the Garden District…it’s my favorite place to go walking…it’s just beautiful.

    Amy, I’m glad that Anne Rice popped into your head! You really should come down here!! I swear, one of these days I’m just going to have a book blogger convention in New Orleans :p

  4. Great post Chris. I haven’t read any Ann Rice books before. My post about Utah authors could be super long too!

  5. Actually Anne Rice IS the first thing that comes to mind when I think of New Orleans. And I’m with you 100%. I really liked all the vampire books, but The Witching Hour is far and away my favorite Anne Rice novel. Voodoo actually creeps me out (yeah…I know. I love vampires and zombies, and voodoo creeps me out. Weird. And Clowns. Don’t even get me started. Give me a blood-sucking vamp any day over a clown!) Sorry for that completely off-topic rant! I still think the voodoo books sound good! And I am eagerly awaiting your review!

  6. New Orleans looks so pretty… (In those photos anyway.) You should take pictures of the Garden District sometime so we can share in the pretty of your walk. ^-~ (And I’d visit New Orleans if I could afford it and wasn’t, you know, terrified of going to/staying in the US. *irrational*)

    Mm… I think you’re lucky to live in so much pretty and fun-sounding, Chris. (Yes, that’s even counting the nightmare that is/was Katrina. *shudders*)

  7. Okay, now I want to read everything you talked about!!! Will you disown me if I admit I’ve never read Anne Rice? Isn’t that horrible?!! This was such a fun post, Chris! You should do a Part 2 sometime and tell us about some of the less famous authors/books.

    A Stella! screaming contest…that is too funny!!! Have you ever joined in?

    And you already, we will definitely be down to visit you one of these days…that’s a promise!

  8. I haven’t heard of the Witches series by Anne Rice – I will definitely have to look them up. I love the photos of New Orleans. It is definitely a place I hope to visit one day.

  9. You know, Chris, it’s just not fair. I’m on this self-imposed new book buying ban and I stop in here innocently this morning and immediately want to go out and pick up two new series. It’s just not fair. πŸ˜‰

    Anyway, not an Ann Rice fan – how in the world does anyone write an entire page in a book that is just one sentence??? But Poppy Z. Brite and Jewell Parker Rhodes have definitely gone on my ‘check ’em out’ list.

    When I was in New Orleans back in 1984 I never made it much beyond le Vieux CarrΓ© but I sure want to expand my wanderings the next time I’m down that way.

    cjh

  10. I am from a one horse hick town so no one I know came from where I lived to become an author.. but James A Owen (Here there be dragons) did live in the same town I did for a few years and went to my high school … he’d be the only literature related person from New Providence N.J. (and he wasn’t really born and raised there so I can’t really claim him lol)

    It’s cool that Anne Rice is from your area!

  11. Loved this post Chris!!! The Witching Hour is definitely my favourite Anne Rice…although I haven’t read the rest of the series yet. Whoops: good thing I’m already making a mental list for RIP. πŸ˜‰

  12. Great post! πŸ™‚

  13. Natasha, I can’t wait to read your Utah post πŸ™‚ You have so many amazing authors over there! Especially YA authors!

    Steph, Glad to find another Witching Hour fan πŸ™‚ Voodoo really isn’t that creepy in it’s real form…it’s not a vengeful religion that stabs people through dolls, lol…that’s all made up. I’ve seen a few voodoo dances and the dancing is just beautiful! Very tribal and haunting..it’s neat!

    Shanra, yeah, Katrina was a nightmare, but aside from that, it’s a great city. It really is such a beautiful city…everywhere you go in New Orleans has something unique about it…I’ll take more pics one day!

    Debi, No, I won’t disown you :p Actually, that’s kind of exciting because you have so much great stuff to look forward too!! I recommend starting with The Witching Hour…though the vampire books are fantastic too and eventually the two stories cross in a couple of books! No I didn’t participate in the Stella screaming contest :p I’ve watched it though and it’s quite amusing, lol.

    Vivienne, Oh, you’re in for a treat with The Witching Hour! It’s such a great book!!

    CJ, LOL…I’m laughing out loud literally over here…Talking about Anne Rice making a sentence last a page, lol! She is a tad descriptive, huh? I don’t know if you’d like Poppy Z. Brite or not…I’d definitely say she’s worth a try though. And I really DO think that you’d like Rhodes’ books! The one I just finished was amazing. You’ve gotta come back CJ!! See more than just the quarter! I’ll be your tour guide πŸ™‚

    Deslily, I remember you talking about Owens being in your same home town! That’s really neat πŸ™‚ I love that y’all have conversed a few times over the internet too! You should do a post just based on him! And I love that Anne Rice is from my area…always have.

    Eva, Isn’t it a fantastic book? Ooooh, that series would make a wonderful RIP read! I may join in with you…I wanted to reread The Witching Hour last year but I never got around to it 😦 Maybe this year!

    Kailana, Thanks!

  14. Wonderful post! Thank you so much for the tour, Chris πŸ˜€ lol, a Stella! screaming contest…I love it.

    You know how much I love Anne Rice and The Witching Hour ❀ But seriously, you have to read A Confederacy of Dunces. It’s SUCH a good book.

  15. You live in a gorgeous part of the world Chris, most jealous!

  16. I think I’m the only person I know who absolutely abhors New Orleans. Nothing personal, but it creeped me out. It was like there was some sort of evil presence. Yes, I know. Now, you’re really ready to haul me to the psych ward, but I have a friend who makes a living as a psychic and she said she felt exactly the same thing. Weird, eh? I love the zoo, though. I could move into the Audubon Zoo.

    Of the books you mentioned, I’ve just read A Confederacy of Dunces. What a strange book, but I’m glad I read it. I’ve read a couple of romantic suspense novels set in N.O., also. And, last I heard, Nevada Barr had moved to N.O. So, there’s another great author in the area.

    Didn’t Anne Rice sell that house? I thought I read that she sold it and one of the selling points was that she’d written vocabulary words on the wall. I may be making that up. πŸ™‚

    Just FYI, I stayed in bed reading and sleeping till 1pm, today, and I feel much better. I finished A Lucky Child (Holocaust book). You can’t feel bad about your life after reading a Holocaust memoir.

  17. Oh, I’m jealous. I love Anne Rice’s early vampire/Mayfair witches novels. Not so much when she brought them together, but hey, you can’t have everything.
    Perfect gothic atmosphere for her books, obviously.
    Happy Weekly Geeks πŸ™‚

  18. *sigh* This post just made me want to go back to NO. Haha, I love the Stella contest. I read this post at work and shouting stella played on in my brain for the rest of the day. πŸ˜›

    I ended up ordering the first and second book of Rhodes off of amazon. Can’t wait until they get here so I can dive right in. I’ve been itching for something along those lines and am glad you stumbled upon it.

  19. Awesome post! New Orleans is one of my favourite literary cities, (due, in large part, to Anne Rice’s work), and I can’t wait to visit in person someday. I’ve been dreaming of it for about ten years now, but I’ve yet to find anyone who’s willing to go with me. Sadness. 😦

    And I’m with everyone else: I love the idea of a Stella screaming contest!

  20. Cool, I just put The Witching Hour on my post.

    When is the Tenn. Williams festival? Is it a summer thing? I’ve got to visit New Orleans one day. You are so lucky to be a local! All that spooky history right at your doorstep.

  21. *oops, I meant I put The Witching Hour on my TBR list. God, the mistakes you make when you comment at work…

  22. Nymeth, I really do need to read Confedaracy of Dunces..I swear I will! lol..eventually.

    Bart, You should come visit!

    Nancy, LOL..You need to come pay a visit…I’ll get rid of those New Orleans fears by showing you some fun stuff πŸ™‚ It’s not all scary, I promise! But at the same time, one of the things I love so much about this city is it’s atmosphere. Anne Rice did sell her house by the way! She originally moved to Kenner which is a nasty little suburb of New Orleans and then she moved to L.A. I still call that beautiful house Anne Rice’s house though πŸ™‚ It’s one of my favorite New Orleans houses. And I’m so glad to hear that you stayed in bed and read all day by the way…I hope you feel better πŸ™‚

    Marree, I know there are quite a few people who weren’t big fans of the combination books, but personally I really loved them!

    Christina, Come on down!!! You should come visit again πŸ™‚ And I’m THRILLED to hear that you bought the Rhodes books!! If the first is as good as this second one has been, you’re in for a treat!

    Memory, It would be a great place to just get away to by yourself actually…Its one of those cities that lend itself well to roaming the streets and taking in the sites!

    T.Y., The Witching hour is fantastic! Hope you enjoy it. I think the Tennessee Williams festival is over the summer but I’m not positive when exactly…I should know :/

  23. I’m glad someone else was kind of thrown off by Anne Rice’s “born again” novels. I know exactly what you mean about the Witching Hour. I read that book a few years ago and wanted to live in New Orleans so badly. She made the city sound both incredibly old but modern and I just cannot resist any city with that “haunted” feel to it.

  24. Great photos! I love New Orleans. And Anne Rice’s pre-Christian books, too. In fact, one of my cats is named Rowan. πŸ™‚

  25. Great post. I enjoyed Interview very much and have The Witching Hour in my TBR. The Jewell Parker Rhodes books sound good.

  26. Chris, seriously, I’ve wanted to go to New Orleans since Interview with a Vampire came out. So that’s like 20 + years now. Then, you post this fabulous post complete with gorgeous pictures……now i have Jewel’s book to look out for, and pictures that I love, and one day I will take you up on your offer of a tour!!! Same goes here, you know. We don’t have creepy atmosphere (which i prefer!), just the capital of Canada and the history of a young country and tons of museums. Frankly the politicians remind me of zombies, so maybe it is creepy here…..

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