Essays

Essay
April 2, 2020

What Happens on Bourbon St. Stays on Bourbon St.

One month before the first coronavirus tests arrived in Louisiana, I pushed through a raucous crowd of strangers in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Down the middle of Royal…

THE WASHINGTON POST | April 1, 2020

Essay
March 9, 2020

And the River Don’t Rise

The flash flood warning blared through the car’s speakers as we forded a side street rushing with high water. The rain crashed against the windshield. “Don’t worry, we’ll make it…

THE WASHINGTON POST | July 15, 2019

Essay
March 9, 2020

The House of Myth

The house my grandparents built was one story, brick. It sat modestly on its suburban lot, a stone’s throw from New Orleans, its front door shaded by a small portico…

OXFORD AMERICAN | March 1, 2019

Essay
March 8, 2020

Preservation

When our daughter was just a month old, Hurricane Sandy pummeled the eastern seaboard, flooding our neighbors’ houses, burning towns. While the peaks of a rollercoaster showed like volcanic islands…

OXFORD AMERICAN | Spring 2017

Essay
March 7, 2020

Death is the Way to Be

In the flooding that followed Hurricane Katrina, bodies floated in the streets and slumped in folding chairs in the sun. They lay on street corners for days, and cameramen took…

GUERNICA | Summer 2015 Notable Essay, THE BEST AMERICAN ESSAYS 2016

Essay
March 5, 2020

Confessions of a Recovering Debutante

We sat around on folding chairs, pinning ostrich plumes into one another’s hair, sharing college gossip. Near the door that led into the bowels of the Municipal Auditorium, our chaperone…

LENNY LETTER | February 13, 2018 

Essay
March 2, 2020

100 Years of Oysters

In the antique kitchen of his family’s restaurant, C.J. Gerdes slips a handful of corn-floured oysters into one of the six blackened pots on the stove. The fat froths like…

SAVEUR | March 29, 2019

Essay
March 2, 2020

Chasing the Blues

I met her on a Monday night, sometime after ten. Just off the plane from New Orleans, I could still smell the city in my clothes. I’d dropped by Casamento’s before…

GARDEN AND GUN | October/November 2017

Essay
November 4, 2016

Everything is Not Fine If It’s Not Fine for Everyone

On November 2, 2004, I stood among other American expats outside an Irish pub in Paris, watching the election results come in. A haze of cigarette smoke hung over the…

LITERARY HUB| November 22, 2016

Essay
March 3, 2000

The Mountains Every Time

The man and I drove all day through the Shenandoah Valley and entered the Blue Ridge by sunset, finding the turnoff only after dark. We serpentined into the mountains until…

GARDEN AND GUN | June/July 2019

Essay
March 3, 1999

Go Hubig’s or Go Home

In the Marigny of New Orleans, on my friend Miriam’s kitchen wall, hangs a picture frame containing one crinkled white wax-paper wrapper. The fat chef we call “Savory Simon” stands…

GARDEN AND GUN | July 2019