Thursday, December 11, 2014

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 Michael Causey at Washington Independent Review of Books:

Could this kind of story have happened in any other American city? Chicago, New York, even Hot Springs, Arkansas, all had their crazy law-breaking subcultures around the Prohibition era. How was this period in New Orleans different than in other cities?

The unique thing about Storyville is that it was a legally tolerated red-light district. Certainly there were many other cities with a policy of unofficial tolerance of vice — in the form of police and politicians turning the other way for a small monetary consideration — but prostitution in Storyville could be practiced openly and without fear of the frequent cosmetic crackdowns that occurred in other cities. There was even a published directory called the Blue Book that conveniently listed all of the prostitutes and their brothels. As a result, I think the vice culture in Storyville was conducted in a far more businesslike way and was therefore somewhat less degrading for both sex workers and their customers (at least in the early years of the district’s life). And the reason this district grew up in New Orleans and not elsewhere lies in the city’s Franco-Latin roots. That heritage gave New Orleans a much more tolerant, cosmopolitan attitude toward activities that were considered inevitable expressions of...[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