A few years ago, I was on a panel at the Tennessee Williams Festival titled “Writing New Orleans: The Most Exotic place in America.” It was held in the largest room in the hotel where the annual literary festival is held, and the room was packed. This surprised me but shouldn’t have: people in New Orleans can be counted on to show an interest in New Orleans.
My co-panelists were Nathaniel Rich, the New Orleans-based novelist and journalist; Kim Marie Vaz, a dean at Xavier University and the author of a book on the Baby Dolls, a women’s Mardi Gras organization; and Richard Campanella, the Tulane geographer and historian. After a lively panel discussion there was a Q. & A., at the end of which Jackie Clarkson, a longtime city-council member (and the mother of the actress…
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