Monday, August 31, 2009

Four years later, still a heck of a job.

The fourth anniversary of Hurricane Katrina passed this weekend. A lot of good things have happened in New Orleans since then. A lot of bad things have happened too. As usual, I have plenty I could say on the subject, but I’m just going to link to the short story that’s thus far my definitive statement on it.

Six weeks after Katrina, I bought a ticket on the first Amtrak train into New Orleans since the storm. I spent a week talking to survivors and witnessing the devastation. Most of the hardest-hit parts of the city were still off-limits to visitors, but what I saw was plenty disturbing. I started writing this piece on my train ride back to Chicago after reading an article in the Times-Picayune about two women campaigning to get their mother’s remains released from a morgue. It was the most difficult thing I ever wrote, and it’s miles away from my usual style and tone, but in a lot of respects I think it may be my best work.

So then, all of that said, here’s “St. Gabriel’s Morgue.”

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