“Betcha I can tell ya / Where ya / Got them shoooes. / Betchadollar, / Betchadollar, / Where ya / Got them shoooes. / Got your shoes on your feet, / Got your feet on the street, / And the street’s in Noo / Awlins, Loo- / Eez-ee-anna. Where I, for my part, first ate a live oyster and first saw a naked woman with the lights on. . . . Every time I go to New Orleans I am startled by something.”
So writes Roy Blount Jr. in this exuberant, character-filled saunter through a place he has loved almost his entire life—a city “like no other place in America, and yet (or therefore) the cradle of American culture.” Here we experience it all through his eyes, ears, and taste buds: the architecture, music, romance (yes, sex too), historical characters, and all that glorious food.
The book is divided into eight Rambles through different parts of the city. Each closes with lagniappe—a little bit extra, a special treat for the reader: here a brief riff on Gennifer Flowers, there a meditation on naked dancing. Roy Blount knows New Orleans like the inside of an oyster shell and is only too glad to take us to both the famous and the infamous sights. He captures all the wonderful and rich history—culinary, literary, and political—of a city that figured prominently in the lives of Jefferson Davis (who died there), Truman Capote (who was conceived there), Zora Neale Hurston (who studied voodoo there), and countless others, including Andrew Jackson, Lee Harvey Oswald, William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams, Jelly Roll Morton, Napoléon, Walt Whitman, O. Henry, Thomas Wolfe, Earl Long, Randy Newman, Edgar Degas, Lillian Hellman, the Boswell Sisters, and the Dixie Cups.
Above all, though, Feet on the Street is a celebration of friendship and joie de vivre in one of America’s greatest and most colorful cities, written by one of America’s most beloved humorists.
Also available as a Random House AudioBook
In this brief walking tour of New Orleans, Blount (Robert E. Lee; Be Sweet) spins an atmospheric, pleasantly meandering tale about a city he clearly knows and loves. Rather than offer up the standard guidebook-style list of things for tourists to do, Blount divides the book into eight "rambles," because "New Orleans is my favorite place in the world to ramble. Even on those deep-summer days that make a person feel swathed in slowly melting hamfat." Blount's yarns will make readers want to visit the city, soak up the mood and create their own memories. Even something as simple as a rain shower reads like a possible adventure: "It can rain so hard in New Orleans that you expect to see alligators bouncing off the pavement ... Also dramatic in their way are the soft showers of the early evening, sometimes arriving spookily in full sunshine from no clouds at all." Of course, even the most unconventional guide to the Big Easy would be incomplete without a mention of the city's food, and Blount devotes an entire ramble to raw oysters, which he says "give you a coolish inner lining collateral to the sheen that New Orleans humidity gives your skin." Blount's New Orleans isn't sugar-coated; it's at times wistful, melancholy and even dangerous. But all this combines to give the reader the impression that anything can happen in New Orleans, which is precisely the author's point. Those looking for a nontraditional portrait of this unconventional city will be delighted by Blount's colorful, almost tender account.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Not Roy Blount at his very best. A lot of the material is old news, but his personal stories are a hoot.