Tuesday, May 31, 2011

New Orleans' Literary Scene

Recently my husband and I celebrated our anniversary with a long weekend in New Orleans, and I'm not sure whether I was more excited about the food I was planning to eat or seeing the city where many great writers have penned their famous works. We spent three and a half days mostly in the French Quarter and I tracked down all the places I could find with literary significance. Here they are:

Hotel Monteleone has been visited by many important writers (see photo above for list). It's a beautiful hotel, and if you sit in the Carousel Bar near the window overlooking Royal Street, the people watching is top-notch.

Here I am on the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar. I was so excited thinking about Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire that I could barely contain myself.

William Faulkner lived in this townhouse just off Jackson Square in his early years as a writer. He wrote Mosquitoes and Soldier's Pay while he stayed here. As bookstores go, this one is pretty small, but so filled with great stuff you hardly even notice. I bought three books here that I'll likely be writing about after I've read them later.

This home on Bourbon Street was occupied at different times by both Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams. Now it's owned by Cokie Roberts' mother, Lindy Boggs, a politician and activist.

This home on St. Peter Street is where Williams wrote A Streetcar Named Desire.
And finally, this is Galatoire's, a French restaurant on Bourbon Street frequented by Tennessee Williams. Also, Stella took Blanche here in A Streetcar Named Desire. We ate here and the food was good, but many of the places we ate were much better than good.

My self-guided tour of New Orleans was satisfactory, but it was merely a substitute for a real one I'd tried to line up. There is just one literary tour in town and though the woman who gives them is supposed to be fantastic, she doesn't return phone calls and even hangs up on people calling at an inconvenient time for her (she has, apparently, never heard of voicemail). My suggestion to New Orleans is that someone else needs to give her some competition. New Orleans is far too important to American literature to only have one person telling all the good stuff. OK, the gripe session is over now.

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