Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans

Like the dope I am, I neglected to save all the reviews when they first appeared in February 2009. Here are some short excepts that I kept, with links to those reviews that I could find online long after the fact. May I say that I’m particularly pleased with the ones marked *, because they either ran in  a New Orleans paper or were written by New Orleanians?

New York TimesFebruary 18, 2009 (my 55th birthday!): Nine Lives may be this young year’s most artful and emotionally resonating nonfiction book so far, and for that, to Mr. Baum, a belated New Year’s toast.”

*New Orleans Times PicayuneFebruary 11, 2009. “One of the most moving — and riveting — books ever written about the rich and complicated life we live here.” 

*New York Times Sunday Book Review February 22, 2009: “A splendid book. . . . Crowded with memorable characters. Baum continually serves up wonderful detail and phrasing.” (A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice.”)

LA Times February 20, 2009: Dan Baum’s extraordinary book . . . resembles a vast Victorian novel in its many-sided evocation of an entire world — worlds, actually. . . 

*The Gambit (New Orleans), February 16, 2009: “Baum has created something more than a history. Nine Lives is a tapestry of improbable stories about an even more improbable place. New Orleanians will recognize it; more than that, they’ll get it.”

Washington PostMarch 1, 2009: “(Baum’s) technique brings to mind Robert Altman’s film ‘Nashville’ . . . . He adroitly moves his subjects through parades, prison, divorces, sex changes, fancy balls and gun brawls.”

 

USA TodayFebruary 26, 2009: “(Baum’s) style evokes the best aspects of John Berendt (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil), Tracy Kidder (The Soul of a New Machine) and Studs Terkel.

NewsweekMarch 7, 2009:  “Terrific. . . . What emerges is a portrait of an entire city in all its quirky, backward beauty.”

 

SF ChronicleMarch 10, 2009: “Baum has told the story of modern New Orleans with sympathy, insight, and an appreciation for the cultural complexities that make the city, even in its current wounded state, a place well worth reading about.”

Boston GlobeFebruary 28, 2009: “Absorbing, insightful. . . . The richness of Baum’s research is everywhere on display.”

Time, February 19, 2009: “With all that has been written about New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina, few writers have been able to capture the essence of New Orleans as skillfully as Baum.”

Kingston (Massachusetts) Observer, March 11, 2009: “It would take a raid on a thesaurus to find enough superlatives to do justice to this incomparable work of journalism.”

 

People Magazine, February 13, 2009: “Brilliantly reported. . . . Compassionate and clear-eyed. . . “

The Tucson Citizen: “This book is so well written it will leave you breathless.”

 OutSmart Magazine, March 7, 2009: “Nine Lives reads like a novel: It sucks you in with dramas, making you gasp every now and then.” 

Kirkus Reviews, January 1, 2009: “One of those rare occasions when journalism crosses the threshold of art.”

The New York Observer, February 26, 2009: “Mr. Baum has performed a remarkable service. . . , salvaging not just lives but entire communities in copious, stunningly rendered detail.”

The Texas Observer, March 20, 2009: “Does for New Orleans what John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evildid for Savannah…. While Baum’s intertwined stories read like good fiction, they convey the same sense of reality as the late Studs Terkel’s oral histories.”

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, March 13, 2009: “By the end of Nine Lives, readers are left with a fascinating read, rich in detail, and a clearer understanding of the city that care forgot.”

 Atlanta Journal-Constitution, March 22, 2009: “Baum’s reporting, which focuses on nine longtime New Orleans residents, is superb. So is his writing.”

Ottawa Citizen, March 22, 2009: “Brilliant. . . . Stunningly detailed portraits. . . .”

Louisville Courier-Journal, March 21, 2008: “For anyone who wants to get an idea of how contemporary New Orleans actually works (or doesn’t work), Nine Lives is a good place to start.”

North Andover (Massachusetts) Eagle-Tribune, February 22, 2009: “I loved how author Dan Baum unfolds each of his subjects’ stories, telling most of them at a just-right pace, allowing one of them to blurt his own tale. I loved the brutal honesty between the pages, I loved the uniquely ‘New Orleans’ feel I got when I was reading. I just plain loved this book.”

Bluffton (South Carolina) Today: February 20, 2009: “I just plain loved this book. When you’re ready for a good set of stories, don’t miss this one.”

Newark Star-Ledger, February 20, 2009: “Baum creates a rich picture of the bonds and divisions of race and class in New Orleans through his unforgettable survivors.”

Cincinnati Enquirer, March 3, 2009: “Though the characters represent archetypes to a certain extent, they aren’t cliches, and their heroic, grim, gut-wrenching and life-affirming stories ring true as the Saint Louis cathedral bells in Jackson Square.”

The Christian Science Monitor,  April 4, 2009: “ A wonderful, deeply textured story. . . the kind of hearty repast that requires generous infusions of excellent reporting.”

Westword (Denver), March 23, 2009: “Nonfiction that reads like epic fiction. . . “

The Advertiser (Lafayette, Louisiana), February 15, 2009: “One of the finest books to be written about Hurricane Katrina and its effect on New Orleans waited the longest to come out, most likely because of the immense research involved. But it’s worth the wait.”

Houston Chronicle, May 1, 2009: “Baum is a wonderful writer whose years of interviewing and research shed light on a complex, often misunderstood city.

Richmond Times-Dispatch, May 1, 2009: “That’s the real power of “Nine Lives.” In addition to explaining what makes New Orleans so weird, Baum puts an indelible face on her people.”

Winston-Salem Journal, June 14, 2009: “Masterful. . . You will find yourself eager to catch up on what’s happened with their lives, to discover who’s gotten married, who’s gotten divorced and who’s appeared on 60 Minutes.”

Dallas Morning News, February 22, 2009: “What makes these people so compelling is not where they live, nor that you know what lies ahead for them. It’s about skill and craft.”

The Boston Globe, February 28, 2009: “Absorbing, insightful. . . . The richness of Baum’s research is everywhere on display.”

 The Independent (Lafayette, Louisiana) “Baum’s eye for detail, his ear for language, and his compassionate spirit allow the nine speakers to come to life in a way few writers ever achieve.”

Newsweek, March 7, 2009:  “Terrific. . . . What emerges is a portrait of an entire city in all its quirky, backward beauty.”

San Francisco Chronicle, March 10, 2009: “Baum has told the story of modern New Orleans with sympathy, insight, and an appreciation for the cultural complexities that make the city, even in its current wounded state, a place well worth reading about.”

 

Kingston (Massachusetts) Observer, March 11, 2009: “It would take a raid on a thesaurus to find enough superlatives to do justice to this incomparable work of journalism.”

 

OutSmart Magazine, March 7, 2009: “Nine Lives reads like a novel: It sucks you in with dramas, making you gasp every now and then.” 

Minneapolis Star-Tribune, March 13, 2009: “By the end of Nine Lives, readers are left with a fascinating read, rich in detail, and a clearer understanding of the city that care forgot.”

 

The Texas Observer, March 20, 2009: “Does for New Orleans what John Berendt’s Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evildid for Savannah…. While Baum’s intertwined stories read like good fiction, they convey the same sense of reality as the late Studs Terkel’s oral histories.”

Ottawa Citizen, March 22, 2009: “Brilliant. . . . Stunningly detailed portraits. . . .”

Louisville Courier-Journal, March 21, 2008: “For anyone who wants to get an idea of how contemporary New Orleans actually works (or doesn’t work), Nine Lives is a good place to start.”

North Andover (Massachusetts) Eagle-Tribune, February 22, 2009: “I loved how author Dan Baum unfolds each of his subjects’ stories, telling most of them at a just-right pace, allowing one of them to blurt his own tale. I loved the brutal honesty between the pages, I loved the uniquely ‘New Orleans’ feel I got when I was reading. I just plain loved this book.”

Bluffton (South Carolina) Today: February 20, 2009: “I just plain loved this book. When you’re ready for a good set of stories, don’t miss this one.”

Newark Star-Ledger, February 20, 2009: “Baum creates a rich picture of the bonds and divisions of race and class in New Orleans through his unforgettable survivors.”

Cincinnati Enquirer, March 3, 2009: “Though the characters represent archetypes to a certain extent, they aren’t cliches, and their heroic, grim, gut-wrenching and life-affirming stories ring true as the Saint Louis cathedral bells in Jackson Square.”

The Christian Science Monitor,  April 4, 2009: “ A wonderful, deeply textured story. . . the kind of hearty repast that requires generous infusions of excellent reporting.”

Westword (Denver), March 23, 2009: “Nonfiction that reads like epic fiction. . . “

Houston Chronicle, May 1, 2009: “Baum is a wonderful writer whose years of interviewing and research shed light on a complex, often misunderstood city.

 

Richmond Times-Dispatch, May 1, 2009: “That’s the real power of “Nine Lives.” In addition to explaining what makes New Orleans so weird, Baum puts an indelible face on her people.”

Winston-Salem Journal, June 14, 2009: “Masterful. . . You will find yourself eager to catch up on what’s happened with their lives, to discover who’s gotten married, who’s gotten divorced and who’s appeared on 60 Minutes.”

 

Buy Nine Lives at Indie Bound or Powell’s

 

About_Dan_Baum.html