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Chris Rose: 1 Dead in Attic

“They are stories of the dead and the living, stories of survivors and believers, stories of hope and despair. And stories about refrigerators.” — Chris Rose

Chris Rose was a Pulitzer nominee this year for his post-Katrina writing. I was glad to see the Times-Picayune snag some well-deserved Pulitzers, but sad that Nicholas Kristof (however much I like his columns) edged out Rose.

In any event, this is a stand-out collection of columns–really, in most cases, “flash nonfiction,” very brief essays–that was unstoppable reading for me last week. Unstoppable, even though I had no time and should have been re-reading Richard Rodriguez, whose essays, however beautiful, suddenly seemed distant and logey after an evening spent with 1 Dead in Attic. No matter what else I was reading or doing, for days I saw the people Rose writes about, sitting on door stoops, calling him “baby” in grocery stores, struggling to rebuild after the unthinkable, taping up their stinking refrigerators. The photographs from British photojournalist Charlie Varley enhance the stories, but in the end, it is Roses’s direct prose and grim, funny, heart-ful imagery that makes this book essential reading for any caring person, and a must for library collections.

As far as I know, 1 Dead in Attic can only be purchased at the website for Chris Rose. Portions of the proceeds go to good causes–something to consider if you’re not going to New Orleans for ALA, or even if you are. Buy 1 Dead in Attic today, read it immediately, and book-talk it with your community–or at least share it with one good friend.

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