This Is An Alternate Cover Ed For ISBN ISBN The True Story Of One Family, Caught Between America S Two Biggest Policy Disasters The War On Terror And The Response To Hurricane KatrinaAbdulrahman And Kathy Zeitoun Run A House Painting Business In New Orleans In August Of , As Hurricane Katrina Approaches, Kathy Evacuates With Their Four Young Children, Leaving Zeitoun To Watch Over The Business In The Days Following The Storm He Travels The City By Canoe, Feeding Abandoned Animals And Helping Elderly Neighbors Then, On September Th, Police Officers Armed With M S Arrest Zeitoun In His Home Told With Eloquence And Compassion, Zeitoun Is A Riveting Account Of One Family S Unthinkable Struggle With Forces Beyond Wind And Water This review has been revised and extended It can now be seen at The book club I belonged to several years ago selected Zeitoun and we had a week to read it I enjoyed the book and hadn t realized how many horrible things happened in New Orleans besides the actual impact of the hurricane Based on some reality, the story helps a non Louisiana native understand the true impacts of the hurricane, not only on the land but on the people.The imagery and language were strong, and the characterizations were very intricate Since reading the books, I ve spent time in Louisiana both rural and New Orleans and hear so many different stories of what actually happened.I may re read this one in preparation for the next American Crime Story TV anthology I enjoyed the OJ Simpson season 1 so much and am excited to see what they can do with the impacts of Hurricane Katrina And this book will help me prepare and remember as much as I can before diving in. I am still trembling from rage, disbelief, and sadness having closed the back cover of this book a few minutes ago Aside from newspaper and magazine articles that I read in the weeks and months following Hurricane Katrina, this is the first long and complete account I have read of a family s experience in the disaster It is a tremendous and devastating work, told with such forthrightness, simplicity and respect I highly recommend it to all What strikes me as I read several of the Goodreads reviews that follow is the degree of dissatisfaction expressed by readers for Eggers s approach to this book and his style This reaction comes from avowed fans of Eggers, who has generated a huge following of hipster, Gen X, Y, yuppie and largely WASPY readers since his breakout works What is the What and A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius Perhaps I am the last registered Democrat who has not read any Eggers until Zeitoun, but at the very least I went into this book with zero expectations of the story I would find or of the writer who assembled it Now that the reading is over, I have little sense of Eggers s voice, which is one precise reason why I rate this so highly the story is not his, it is that of the Zeitoun s Eggers served as a conduit and his skill as a writer is apparent in how quickly one forgets he is there I also reserve judgment of the actions of Zeitoun, never once questioning his desire to remain behind in New Orleans to guard his home and to serve as caretaker for the property and possessions of his friends and neighbors It seemed completely fitting with the character of this brave and proud man Nor did I have the sense that Zeitoun was presented as or ever considered himself a victim of anti Muslim backlash following September 11 it is simply and horribly the reality of the world in which he, others of Arab descent, followers of Islam, and those whose skin tone and facial features might possibly identify them as potential threats now live That these fears didn t appear to have anything to do with his arrest and incarceration doesn t diminish their potency This is a love story love by a man for his wife, children, his community, his business, and for the country he adopted as home It is a story of shattered hearts and dreams, a tragedy so Shakespearean in scale it seems impossible to believe that is really happened But it did and this is just one story, one man, one family All thanks to Dave Eggers, McSweeney s Books and the Voice from the Storm Project for bringing it to light. Read between 11.30 pm and 4.45 a.m last night One big gulp of stinky, corrupt water and the lives that were washed away in it and continue to be devastated by injustices codified and rationalized by The War On Terror the U.S s own citizens murdered by ineptitude, bureacracy and a racist, elitist, fear based world view that prioritized building prisons over providing food, water and shelter.Eggers at his very best What he manages to do here a lesson learned from the backlash against What Is The Whatperhaps is avoid the confusion and perceived trickery of calling this a memoir autobiography and flat out states this as non fiction What it is a work of great investigative journalism, told through the eyes of a family that lived it, confirmed with secondary sources.This is the Eggers we all want, I think one who can weave real world events and the social injustices they expose into compelling personal narrative that motivates others readers to action At least, I hope this is what we want because we need this kind of voice, and this kind of literary journalism.Sure, he gets a bit preachy at the end but by that point, we want him to just SAY IT Voice the anger name the enemy And yes, there are the inevitable strings left hanging, story threads dropped or, conversely, too neatly summed up, and a too long where are they now section that really just introduced a whole bunch of other issues and sub stories Still, it s few and far between the books that keep me up all night, and leave me shaking with anger, sad and mobilized at the same time. Definitely compelling once we get to the storm The book starts off pretty slow and unsatisfying Eggers needs to establish these characters, needs to make us care, but he does so with vast brushstrokes punctuated with only the occasional specific detail for balance The problem is it s pure exposition and summary In part I of the book there s virtually no scene This made it extremely difficult to invest myself completely in the book While I got an idea of who the Zeitouns were, I never really felt drawn into the book itself I was bored, in other words There are a number of flashbacks to Zeitoun s life in Syria, none of which I really found interesting So, I slogged through and waited for the storm Which, the storm itself isn t where the drama comes from here The storm simply happens, and the aftermath propels the story forward Zeitoun s home is uptown, away from where it seems the most extreme damage occurred The water level simply rises, and he stays on the second floor or else on the roof Which isn t a criticism, just a summary And then this isn t even what drives the real drama To avoid spoilers, I ll just say something happens to Zeitoun, and it reveals what a mess Katrina was from a governmental bureaucratic standpoint that s, I think, the point of the book, and it does hit pretty hard So in that sense, it s a successful book I continued to think about it after I finished reading it Eggers s reporting is extensive and there don t seem to be any holes or details left uncovered I think I just wanted stronger writing throughout Bolder, punchy sentences driving the narrative The tale sort of tells itself I wanted from the author as author. If I may say so without sounding like a heartless wench, after hearing about Hurricane Katrina every day of my life for about three straight years, I was in no mood to also read a book based on one of its many survivors I know it was a horrible, deplorable event but felt that Brian Williams stayed on that story a bit too long, or too often, for its own good My heart broke for the people, I did what I could, and felt horrible I couldn t do , and that our government did not do good What I didn t know, what I don t think Brian Williams told us, was the whole story of what the government was doing to some survivors.So it was finally time for me to relive Katrina through the eyes of Abdul Zeitoun and his wife Zeitoun, as he was known, was a Syrian immigrant who did quite well for himself a small business owner and rental property owner, and all around nice guy When his wife and children evacuated, he stayed to keep his eye on their house, business, and properties He saved several neighbors and found four stranded dogs to feed just in his first days of the aftermath out in his trusty canoe Staying in New Orleans eventually turned out to be a bad decision and he and some friends were falsely arrested This part of the book was shocking and sadly displayed what happens when our Constitutional rights are ignored by authorities and people in crisis mode forget basic kindnesses Really a sad story that never should have been allowed to happen FEMA had its moments here too, but for the most part had little to do with Zeitoun s experience.This would have been 5 stars if not for the very strange flow of the story from one random thought to other entirely unrelated bits of information Other reviewers were harsher on Eggers for this I thought it also showed sloppy editing. What is building, and rebuilding and rebuilding again, but an act of faithDave Eggers, ZeitounThere is something bold and yet quiet about Zeitoun the book and Zeitoun the man There is also something bold about Dave Eggers I don t always like the flashier parts of Eggers The sparkle and the shake of A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius or the fur covered binding of The Wild Things didn t really capture me like they did some But after reading A Hologram for the King I ve started recognizing it for what it is David Eggers is simply enthusiastic, ebullient about ideas and people He can t help himself He has an idea and he wants it big or bigger He wants Zeitoun s story written across the sky For most of us the wish or desire is enough It fills us up We are done there and can go to bed and rest comfortably The brilliance of the idea quickly gets burned out as the sun of the rest of our lives burns our dreams away The brilliance or genius of David Eggers is his ability to follow up on these quirky little ideas He has tremendous follow through He doesn t forget, he doesn t dispose, he uses and crafts and makes and publishes.Not every book written by Eggers will be genius, but his ENERGY is always genius His momentum is always brilliant And, Zeitoun the book was brilliant It showed the beauty of people and the inhumanity of bureaucracies It is the story of America How America can contain both the best and the worst of humanity, often lit by the same light and drowned baptized by the same waters. Y all This book is VERY LIKELY FICTION and poor Eggers got conned, bless his heart The Zeitouns Zetons painted our uptown house in the late 90s, and after their arrests, I paid attention whenever their names showed up in the Times Picayune Anybody who lives in the Garden District or really anywhere uptown in New Orleans knows about these guys If you check the logs of the NOLA Better Business Bureau, there were complaints lodged against their painting business than all of the other combined complaints in the history of their record keeping.Fred Fuad was the smooth talking cousin and business partner of the hero of this supposedly nonfiction story Zeitoun has convictions for fraud and identity theft than I have socks Abdul the hero of this story as most now know, was arrested for attempted first degree murder for beating his wife Kathy with a tire iron and for soliciting her murder for 20Khe is in jail at present for felony stalking charges With their business arrangement, Fred was the main contact for clients and brought us and many others a scrap book with photos of the homes of our local Mayor, the DA, and other luminaries whose homes the Zetouns Zetons had painted See the links below for just a small sampler of his hijinks I could tell you how horribly the Zeitouns treated the hard working African American crew who sanded, scraped, and caulked my house and were never paid , but the best story is about a lone worker named Rene that they brought in to replace the four black gents After three weeks, they wouldn t pay him either He had young daughters back in Ecuador, and I invited him to stop back by on a Saturday to pick up some clothes that no longer fit me When Rene got there, the Zeitoun s Syrian crew had just arrived He went up to Fred to ask him for his pay, and Fred went egomaniac on him Fred happens to be a semi professional boxer the Syrian Assassin was what he went by back then , and he went after Rene.Fred beat up this little man from Central America right there on my back deck while I looked on Fred punched Rene so hard that it knocked him off the stairs, out of my closed gate, and rolled him backward out onto the public sidewalk Rene then grabbed a 5 gallon bucket of slate blue paint and doused Fred with it He looked exactly like Papa Smurf and was crazily enraged I thought he was going to beat Ren to death before I could get the police out there to stop them It was horrible.So yes, while Fred was the one mostly in the public eye, the Zetons Zeitouns are known locally as being violent and con artists Keep reading the links in the comments section below for newspaper articles.While I believe Eggers wrote the tale beautifully he is an excellent writer , knowing what our Nola neighbors and I do about these con men, my guess is that three quarters of this book is pure b llsh t Eggers hero of the story is a convicted felon who twice tried to pay someone to kill his wife Kathy When he was arrested for trying to beat her to death with a tire iron on Prytania Street where I used to live , there is testimony from two bystanders that proved the severity of the tire iron attack One, James Barber, told the judge he had to douse Zeitoun with pepper spray and punch him 20 times to get him off his ex wife Another witness, Charlotte Rolfs, said she pulled over while driving by on Prytania Street to come to the woman s aid as she was being choked My thought was that he was going to kill her right there, she told Marullo That s how strong it looked to me He was also taken into custody after knocking Kathy onto the floor and slamming her face repeatedly onto the floor while their little children looked on One of their girls ran over and kicked her father, this story s hero, while he was sitting astride her mom s back, bashing her head into the floorboards He then ran out of the house to evade the police He beat their 15 year old daughter for taking off her headscarf as well.Eggers really writes a great story, but I highly doubt that much of it is true Ask ANYBODY from the Garden District, and they ll tell you the same thing few of us trust Fred or Abdul Zeitoun As for his arrest for looting and being temporarily housed in an outdoor holding area, that I buy The jail, however, had neither electricity or clean running water There were no judges or attorneys or bailiffs around the streets were flooded and people were either stuck at home or were evacuated NOBODY in the entire city had power or water it wasn t just the jail Heat indexes inside multi story buildings were 112 degrees Sitting outside in the shade and sleeping under the stars was what everybody did Including the backlogged looters and violent arrestees.I feel bad for the hoodwinked author but it is aggravating to hear random people praise Zeitoun like he is some sort of saint like martyr The book is a great read, but in my opinion, is a fairy tale than nonfiction.http www.nola.com crime index.ssf 2 This easy reading docu fiction is NOT about the misery caused by hurricane Katrina in New Orleans in the summer of 2005 The real subject of Eggers is the inadequate organization of American society and how quickly it can descend to the level of a banana republic He uses the example of the well integrated Syrian migrant, Abdulrahman Zeitoun and his family, living and working in New Orleans Due to the hurricane, Zeitoun gets into great difficulties and has to undergo numerous humiliations This is mainly a consequence of the government s inadequate response, but it is also related to subcutaneous racism and the aftermath of September 9 11 Zeitoun is an arab and a moslem.Like in What s the What Eggers used a real story, but this time he chose to take a narrators position, and not the inner voice of the main character himself That makes the story a bit less gripping than in the former book, but it also raises fewer questions about possible distortions by the author However, perhaps it is the cynic or skeptic in me the image that Eggers paints of Zeitoun and his family is very idyllic it s even close to hagiographic.Finally, a bit of a wry remark during his misery, Zeitoun has to think several times about his home country of Syria, where a large part of his family has remained, and Eggers paints a picture of the poor, yet happy existence there Seen from the perspective of today, 2018, after 5 years of Syrian civil war, shouldn t we nuance the misery in New Orleans and the criticism on American society a bit With some delay, Zeitoun succeeded in rebuilding his existence in New Orleans and getting some partial justice I think, this places this book in another perspective, of course without undervaluating what went wrong in the US, in 2005 Addendum after my review some readers pointed me in the direction of press articles on what happened to Zeitoun and his wife, after the publication of the book the divorce, the stalking, the murder attempts I m not going to judge anyone on the basis of these reports, or change my review of the book for that, especially since Zeitoun was almostly completely acquitted, but it adds to my suspicion that Eggers offered a much too idyllic image of the Zeitoun family situation.
Dave Eggers is the author of ten books, including most recently Your Fathers, Where Are They And the Prophets, Do They Live Forever , The Circle and A Hologram for the King, which was a finalist for the 2012 National Book Award He is the founder of McSweeney s, an independent publishing company based in San Francisco that produces books, a quarterly journal of new writing McSweeney s Quarterly
- 351 pages
- Dave Eggers
- 05 May 2017 Dave Eggers