Friday, May 17, 2013

Saints and Sinners

Next Thursday I'm headed to New Orleans for the Saints and Sinners Literary Festival. The master classes and panels are always great, but let's be honest-- the reason I go is to hang out with writers.

There's something wonderful and odd about walking around town and every time you turn a corner you see someone you know. Or you go to a restaurant with one friend and suddenly tables are being pushed together and it's a party of twenty. Or you find yourself squished between stacks of books in a little bookstore next to your literary idol during a poetry reading.

Writers tend to be introverts, but for three days we summon all our social energy to perform such daring feats as making eye contact and reading our work in front of our peers. We gather in hotel lobbies to gossip about publishers. And dogs. And biscuit recipes. And Doctor Who. The state of the publishing industry. Politics. And the ever important quest for the prefect bloody mary. (Okay, that last one is probably just Diane and me, but we're willing to drag include anyone to the French Market so they know our gold standard)

I can't wait to have a chicken fried steak from the Clover Grill (I only eat it once a year, and only there), woodfire grilled oysters at Acme Oyster House, anything on the menu from Deanie's on Iberville, rum pralines from Southern Candy Kitchen, gumbo from the Gumbo Kitchen, and a drink at the carousal bar at the Monteleone.

Insane as it sound, I'm looking forward to the humidity that makes my hair swell to twice its usual volume and the heat that slams against my chest the second I walk out of an air conditioned place. I swear I can summon the stench of Bourbon Street to mind. As the sun begins to set I think of the feral cats making their way across the quarter to the safety of Jackson Square for the night. Or the time I found myself in the middle of a second line (jazz funeral procession) but not feeling as if I were intruding. And I remember that one late, late night when we passed a man in a top hat, frock coat, blue sunglasses, long black hair and a pale face, turned to each other, said "vampire" at the same time, and just kept walking. It's that kind of place. Perfect for writers.   

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