Monday, August 29, 2011

A Hurricane Story by Jennifer Shaw

On today, the 6th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, I bring you a story that's all about hope and beauty.

Back when I lived in NOLA, I saw Jen & Cesar fairly regularly.  They are dear friends of one of my dear friends, and I was often invited to group gatherings. Cesar is from Rhode Island and is of Portuguese descent (as am I on my dad's side), so we had a bit of the "we're not from around here" bond.  (In New Orleans, like in Louisville, when people ask you where you went to school, they mean high school.  Most introductions start with that question or a question about what neighborhood you're from.)

Jennifer, an amazing photographer, was 9 months pregnant when the evacuation orders for Katrina came in. She and Cesar evacuated to a strange motel in a strange town, and in the middle of the night, as Katrina roared toward New Orleans, her water broke. Baby Claudio was born far from New Orleans just as Katrina came ashore.

A few years ago, Jennifer created a photo narrative of her family's evacuation story.  I saw a very early version of it and choked back tears as I read. Now it's available for purchase.  Today the book was featured on NPR's website.


"Like a mournful fairytale, Jennifer Shaw’s beautifully staged tableaux are alternately sweet and menacing, filled with emotion but never spilling over into sentimentality. The poetic marriage of words and photos makes Hurricane Story a children’s book for grown-ups.” —Josh Neufeld, creator of A.D.: New Orleans After the Deluge

"Even if you think you've seen it all where Katrina's concerned, trust me, you're going to love Shaw's marvelous memoir."—The Times-Picayune

"This is the kind of book that reminds you that books can be beautiful objects." —The Los Angeles Times

"Hurricane Story is a tabletop, toy box Odyssey. With simple objects, trenchant statements, and exquisite camera vision, Shaw relates an epic tale of displacement, creation and discovery." — George Slade, curator, Photographic Resource Center, Boston

"An engaging variation on a near mythic theme."—Gambit Weekly

You can also see the photographs and text here at Jen's website.  It's a beautiful, honest story.  I hope you take a few minutes to read it.

Happy 6th birthday, Claudio!

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