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The author of Tarnished Crown goes underground in the city famous for the Mardi Gras and reveals a socially stratified town with political, social, and cultural cauldron brewing beneath its surface.
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Praise for New Orleans
"A tour de force worthy of the colorful city she profiles." --Publishers Weekly
"A revealing look at a broad cross-section of Carnival culture, from the most elite and secretive to the most open and inclusive, and the resulting portrait is as true a reflection of ourselves as we are likely to have... Throughout this beautifully written chronicle run the familiar themes of racial division and yearning for harmony, of the pain of discrimination past and present set against pride in history and tradition...If this lively, compulsively readable book were a song it would be 'Do Whatcha Wanna,' that embracing and inclusive, exuberant anthem by the ReBirth Brass Band. New Orleans is probably the only city in the country that could inspire 22 versions of that song, so many variations on that theme, and Carol Flake, like an extremely talented one-woman brass band, has heard and played them all for readers in this intelligent, vibrant book..." --New Orleans Times-Picayune
"A deep feeling for the city's tantalizing charm...New Orleans is an intimate and well researched study, an amalgam of history, reporting, and personal reflection." --Sunday News & Observer
"A smart, moving look at a city in trouble." --Los Angeles Times
An informative if somewhat longwinded paean to the dying traditions that fuel the annual Carnival, as well as a portrait of changing times in the Crescent City. Flake (Tarnished Crown, 1987; Redemptorama, 1984), who lived in New Orleans for a time during the 1970s, returns to chronicle the changes that have recently taken hold of the yearly bacchanal that, since the mid-19th century, has provided a sense of local identity. To tourists, who fuel the increasingly moribund local economy, Carnival begins on Twelfth Night (January 6) and continues until Mardi Gras, the Tuesday before Lent. To New Orleans natives, however, Carnival is a year-round preoccupation. During the year, the city breaks up into distinct racial and ethnic camps, which plan their respective parades and balls and converge only for the duration of Carnival. The changes gripping Carnival are those that are altering the very fabric of the city, namely, shifting demographics--New Orleans now has a sizable black majority--and commercialism, which has seized hold of the celebration and its white nexus, the French Quarter. Flake profiles local figures, including Blaine Kern, ``Mr. Mardi Gras,'' who designs many of the floats for the parade and has erected Mardi Gras World, a cheesy exhibition attraction; and Dorothy Mae Taylor, a black councilwoman whose well-intentioned campaign to integrate the ``krewes'' (the secret societies responsible for staging the numerous parades and parties) has met with resistance on many levels and led the krewes to voluntarily decrease their involvement. Lamentably, Flake's discursive prose and scattershot approach to reporting facts and events paints a somewhat bland, albeit accurate, portrait of a city well-known for its spicy cuisine. -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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