One more review of my carnival book
By Kathleen Spivack on May 24, 2014
author of “With Robert Lowell and His Circle: Anne Sexton, Sylvia Plath, Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz, others.” ISBN # 978-1-55553-788-3.University Press of New England 2012.
Reviewed in Goodreads
This book is an absolute must for any reader, scholar, reveler, tourist, historian, admirer, expatriate, resident or non- resident lover of this city. O’Neill writes for the obsessed lovers, whether unrequited or fulfilled, of the real and the imagined New Orleans. "New Orleans Carnival Krewes" describes social and political structure, past, present and future, and the history and mystery of the Carnival. Through Carnival, the author takes us in to the heart of the planning, the rituals, and the magic. O’Neill shows us the rituals; race, class and and membership. As in all of O'Neills books based on New Orleans, as well as her plays, we discover the lure of this half drowned city, still bravely calling to us with siren insistence.The author shows us how the rich traditions of New Orleans have been preserved.
Her work reveals tales of gentle care and family and district stewardship,. But it also finds perfidy, base betrayal, and illicit passions. Generations of feuds, murder even, seethe just below the surface of O'Neills celebration of her city and its writers and artists. In hectic gaiety the Mardi Gras proclaims the brevity of life: it rivals the city of Venice in its feverish celebrations. Professor O’Neill takes us behind the scenes, shows us the organizations and the planning, the oaths and scandals, the sexuality, the magnetism, the exclusions and the inclusions. And she describes some of the wonderfully artistic and original conceptions, some unbelievably wild and imaginative. We learn of their origins, ideas and their construction, and of the planning that goes into each detail of the citywide spectacle.
Archival illustrations accompany the history of progression of the city, its politics, and its Carnival. Prof. O’Neill is a specialist and knows her mysterious and legendary city intimately. The author open the doors to the magic of New Orleans, with its arcane rites and celebrations, its multi -cultural history and politics, its celebrations, its music, its peoples and joyous survival.
"New Orleans Carnival Krewes" as well as O'Neill's other works on her beloved city should be in everyone's travel kit: at any airport, hotel, restaurant , conference center, travel bookstore, or house of good or “ill “repute, as they say—wherever people might want a bit of time on their hands, unobserved, to absorb a very special city, its magnificent secret societies and rites and festivals, its febrile gaiety, its influence on art and literary production, and of course,its thrilling shadow-side.