Novelist Tom Piazza is a resident of New Orleans by choice. In Why New Orleans Matters he tells how he grew to love the city, visiting numerous times to attend jazz festivals before he decided to make the friendly city his home. He also tells about his two months after Hurricane Katrina, living with friends in Missouri and following all the news. His account of returning to his and his girl friend's houses two weeks after the storm to salvage personal items is particularly good reading.
In the half of the book about New Orleans before the storm, Piazza describes the music, cuisine, architecture, and culture of the city. He advises readers to get away from the Bourbon Street area, which he maintains is not the real New Orleans. He also recommends renting a bicycle to explore the historic neighborhoods. Away from the tourist traps the visitor can discover wonderful people, like the gas station attendant who glued the frame of his broken glasses frame with fingernail-repair glue at 3:00 a.m.
The people of the city are Piazza's prime concern. Why New Orleans Matters should be read by government officials deciding the city's future.
Piazza, Tom. Why New Orleans Matters. New York: ReganBooks, 2005. ISBN 0061124839