The initial horrors of Katrina have passed, but people are still homeless, crammed like sardines into stadiums and other shelters, and often refused basic health care. Even if you don’t have cash money to spare, there are options. One Astrodome volunteer is accepting donations of old cds, cassettes, walkmen, portable cd players, boomboxes, headphones and batteries. She’ll make sure they’re distributed to teenagers displaced by the hurricane.
Since September 10th, we have had refugees from Katrina living with us, and I have just seen them off on a plane back to New Orleans where they have a relatively undamaged house in Metairie. I’m in a terrible state of worry about them, as well as grief, fury, outrage–none of which is the point I’m trying to get to.
I happened to see John Grisham on CNN last night talking about rebuilding libraries in the towns along the gulf, and I have been trying to find some method for selling a signed first edition of [Robert Penn Warren‘s] All the King’s Men in a way that would allow the proceeds to go directly to Katrina victims. I’m less worried about libraries right now [than about] people without homes or family who need basic help first. But I wondered if someone who reads your site may know people who would want to help hurricane victims, buy some first editions, and receive a charitable deduction all at the same time.
Red Warren was my godfather, and the book is inscribed to me, but I don’t know if that would help or hurt its sale price. I also have a volume of my grandfather’s first book, which was published by Virginia and Leonard Wolfe with an introduction by Robert Graves (my grandfather was a poet, John Crowe Ransom), and I doubt that there were more than a few hundred printed. I’m thinking that if I could put together a group of first editions by Southern writers perhaps they could be sold as a package.
If anyone has any thoughts about the best way to go about selling these items, or would like to donate first editions of their own or other Southern writers’ works to the cause, please email me at email@example.com, and I’ll pass your message along.
Other ways you can help:
- Books XYZ is rebuilding schools in areas destroyed by Katrina, and has collected letters from authors who’ve donated, including Cory Doctorow and Joanne Harris.
- Colleen Mondor (a Bookslut contributor) writes to say that she’s still seeking books, particularly for children and young adults, to be distributed in Baton Rouge. She’s trying to get the word out to authors, illustrators, publishers, book and comic book reviewers. The address for donations is Josh Causey, Parkview Baptist Church, 11795 Jefferson Highway, Baton Rouge, LA 70816.
- Pia Ehrhardt (who recently won the Narrative Magazine prize for a short story called “Famous Fathers”) reminds me of The Neighborhood Story Project, given new life by Soft Skull Press. She says, “Abram Himelstein is a force of nature. Giving voice to kids — one at a time. Or in this case, five. This article and excerpt recently ran in the Houston Chronicle.” You can hear one of the participants on This American Life, and you can buy copies of the books (and presumably help fund more in the series) here.