Thursday, January 8, 2015

Gary Krist

Before turning to narrative nonfiction with The White Cascade and City of Scoundrels, Gary Krist wrote three novels--Bad Chemistry, Chaos Theory, and Extravagance--and two short-story collections--The Garden State and Bone by Bone.

Krist's new book is Empire of Sin: A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans. From his Q & A with Randy Dotinga at the Christian Science Monitor:

Q: How did New Orleans become New Orleans in the first place?

It started out as a French city in the early 1700s and for the first 100 years, it was a little piece of France on the North American continent. But it also had Latin and Caribbean influences and developed more permissive attitudes regarding sex, vice, and race.

It was fundamentally different than the other cities of America. It had a greater recognition of human nature: Sometimes you can’t really change human nature. You have to roll with it rather than confront it.

They had this permissive attitude for much of the 19th century. But when Anglo-American elites came down from the North, they wanted to clean up the town. They thought, "We can’t abide this, or we won’t attract Northern capital." They tried to normalize it compared to the rest of the South.

Q: How did the race conflict evolve after post-Civil War reconstruction?

The local white population realized that their federal overseers were gone and they could start asserting white supremacy.

There’s this cascading wave of legislation that took away whatever rights blacks had in New Orleans. Intermarriage was...[read on]
Learn more about the book and author at Gary Krist's website.

The Page 69 Test: The White Cascade.

Writers Read: Gary Krist (May 2012).

The Page 99 Test: City of Scoundrels.

The Page 99 Test: Empire of Sin.

--Marshal Zeringue