Happy Mardi Gras! Now go buy this book.

Tomorrow is Mardi Gras day, aka Fat Tuesday. Part of me is a little sad I’m not in New Orleans this week, but the other, larger part of me reminds myself gently that I haven’t liked Mardi Gras festivities since I was in high school, if then. I can remember one year in grad school that a trio of us drove to New Orleans for the weekend before Mardi Gras and had a fine time, but I feel that was an exception that might not ever occur again. I’m happy Mardi Gras is going strong in the New Orleans area this year, but still not motivated to join the crowds in person.
This is the first year I can remember that I won’t have had a single slice of king cake. For the past few years, someone always brought a few to the office and I ate a token piece, even though I can’t stand the goopy white frosting that seems to be standard on king cakes these days. Before that, I would supply a king cake for my friends and coworkers, which my mom would send from Metairie. I didn’t ask for them to send a cake this year, nor have I tried to buy one in Austin, because I wouldn’t eat more than a slice and since I work alone, there’s no one on whom I can foist off the rest. (The Beau doesn’t much like king cake either, and he’s out of town at the moment.) It’s weird to not like something very much and still miss it.

Speaking of missing New Orleans, however, there’s a book you should read. It’s called Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans. I have no idea whether you can find it in your local library or bookstore but you can buy it straight from the publisher, Chin Music Press, at a very affordable price. (Amazon does not seem to have the book in stock yet. Wish they’d hurry up.)
It’s a gorgeous little book, hardcover, beautifully designed. The book contains essays about New Orleans, pre- and post-Katrina, including one I wrote about movie theaters in the New Orleans area. It’s not simply about theaters, though … it’s about my family and which theaters we liked and what happened the day the Robert E. Lee theater showed a Marx brothers movie to an audience full of restless kids.
But wait, there’s more: Ray and Toni also have essays in the book. Toni’s is a wonderfully moving essay about people affected by Katrina, and Ray’s is a hilarious look at Mardi Gras floats.
Even my cat, Rufus T. Firefly, loves the book. See?

I missed the book’s release party because it was in New Orleans a couple of weeks ago and I was too busy and too budget-bound to get myself down there. My parents went and told me later how much they’d enjoyed themselves, although most of their descriptions from the evening centered around the food they ate. Well, people from the New Orleans area are like that.
Some readings from the book will take place in Baton Rouge on April 2, and I’ll be there (I hope). My little brother is playing a wicked stepsister in the Baton Rouge Ballet production of Cinderella, and the performances are that weekend. I could not resist seeing him as an ugly stepsister, so I was already planning to be in Baton Rouge that weekend … scheduling the book’s reading for that same weekend was a lucky coincidence. I will keep you posted on date/time/place, although I realize that I probably have exactly one reader in the BR area who isn’t Toni (hi Eliza).
When I visited the New Orleans area at Christmas time, my little brother and I drove around taking photos of old movie theaters, or the buildings that stand where old theaters once were located, in parts of Metairie and New Orleans. I’m hoping to post those photos soon. (Along with everything else I keep saying I’ll post soon … I know, I know.) Those photos will make much more sense if you read the essay that inspired them. So find yourself a copy of Do You Know What It Means to Miss New Orleans, one way or another … and please let me know after you read it, either in the comments or email. I’ll be interested to hear what you thought about it.
And if you’re in New Orleans or Baton Rouge or some other place where Mardi Gras is happening, enjoy a piece of king cake for me.

6 thoughts on “Happy Mardi Gras! Now go buy this book.”

  1. Eliza, I am pretty sure the reading is at 2 pm because my brother’s performance is (unfortunately) at the same exact time. It’s at a Barnes & Noble but I don’t know which one/where.

  2. Gah! You will be watching your brother perform and I will be attending a bridal shower at 2 pm that day. There’s only the one B&N, and it’s on Corporate Boulevard in Citiplace. Pisser. I hope the signings go on for a while so I can sneak away and participate in some small way–and see you, and Toni, if possible.

  3. I realized yesterday that I haven’t had a piece of king cake either. Not working does that. (I live alone so buying an entire one is not too smart.)
    I MAY have seen the book at WalMart–I’ll check later this week. (Maybe tomorrow–what else is there to do?)

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