Books can seem more than slightly beside the point right now, what with the corpses abandoned on sweltering New Orleans streets and survivors crammed into “shelters” and forbidden reentry if they leave for the afternoon.
But if you’re like me, you can reach way back to childhood and conjure up the feeling of escape your favorite books offered. I remember lying in bed late at night, reading The Cricket in Times Square or It’s Like This, Cat with a penlight and polishing off a bad of generic Doritos, while all hell broke loose in my living room. Naturally I put some energy into a vague hope my mom didn’t know where my dad had hidden the shotgun. But mostly I stayed focused on the cricket, the boy who fed his cat dog food and had a shitty time of it, and other characters whose lives seemed as real to me as my own. I left an orangey nacho cheese stain at the top of every page.
In the hope that some preteen kid crammed into a cot next to his parents in the Astrodome will find similar refuge in books, I’m assembling a pile of old favorites to send the Katrina Literary Collective. If you’d like to offer bookish assistance to the hurricane victims, here’s how you can help: