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Snippets of New Orleans

Snippets of New Orleans

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Snippets are fragments of things. They are people observed, foods consumed, ornaments spotted: a man on a streetcar, crawfish shells on the sidewalk, an ornate cornstalk-shaped fence. 

I believe that to immerse oneself in a place means to try and hold all its elements, past and present, grandiose and mundane, in a single plane of vision. This is, of course, impossible. The result is fragments, vignettes. In Jackson Square, for example: a vision of the first French settlers coming up the Mississippi alongside the sight of a garishly painted street performer harassing passers-by.  If we cannot hold all facets of a place in our mind at once, I think the next best thing is to honor our fragmented understanding, to see in “Snippets.”

I learned and re-learned a lot of things making this book. I learned that even in my “home” in Louisiana I feel I am an outsider peering into a window. I re-learned how beautiful and bizarre New Orleans is, how every street has a distinct personality. . . . I re-learned that I know very little about anything, and that the more I learn the more I realize how little I know. I learned that asking for entry into people’s personal lives is complicated and requires a lot of mental and ethical somersaults. 

This book is my most earnest and honest reflection of New Orleans: triumphant and tragic, gaudy and gritty, elegant and ugly, rich and poor, a city that embodies all these and other polar opposites with a perverse kind of grace. My account is flawed and incomplete in the way all our experiences are flawed and incomplete: there are always vistas left to see, flavors left to try, stories left to hear; there are assumptions made, words misunderstood, histories distorted. 

May this book communicate the New Orleans I know, and may you weave your own New Orleans truth between the pages.

- Emma Fic
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