Shortly before moving back to New Orleans about a year and a half ago, a close friend gave me a going away present—a book along with a notecard. The notecard wished me luck on taking on a city that is larger than life. The book was “Lives of the Saints” by Nancy Lemann.
Nancy Lemann is a clever writer. She has her own style of writing, capitalizing certain words like “Chaos” and “Life” to put extra emphasis on the word. The opening quote of the book simply says, “Then I climbed the sharp hill that led to all the years ahead.” [Evelyn Welch]
Just that one sentence rang so true at that point in my life. The book didn’t necessarily seem to have much of a plot, but was more about creating a mood of light-hearted oddity. The perfect setting to create this type of mood? New Orleans–of course.
Lemann did an incredible job of capturing the spirit of a people that you only encounter in New Orleans. I could fully picture attending a wedding as described in the opening of the book. I also found myself imagining me being the main character Louise walking up and down “the Avenue.”
A year and half after I read it, I find myself referencing it about once a month at least…and I’m still climbing up the sharp hill that will lead to all the years ahead…enjoying every step, encountering people in real life whom I can imagine as characters in Lemann’s book.
I really loved this book and highly recommend it. It’s a quick read at about 150 pages. “Lives of the Saints” is Nancy Lemann’s first novel and was published in 1985. This book provides a short cut to falling in love with the city of New Orleans.
Keep it cheeky.