Cajun Town Needs a Bard

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The city of Lafayette, La., is growing quickly, and it risks losing its Cajun culture. The area needs a great writer to keep check on the dissolution of the Acadiana way.


The Atchafalaya Basin lies west of Baton Rouge in Louisiana. The town of Lafayette is the center of the region and it's famous for its Cajun music and French patois. It's also home to a booming oil economy. And that has commentator Andrei Codrescu worried that the local culture could disappear without being properly chronicled.

ANDREI CODRESCU: My friend John Ludden expressed some astonishment to the fact that no writer has yet risen from the Atchafalaya Basin to pen or chronicle of local vividness the way Gabriel Garcia Marquez had done for Colombia-Macondo. John is right, the place is right to the juncture between new and old, when people can still remember the old while they're being swept under by the new.

Following up on that, I wrote an ad for the Lafayette's Daily Advertiser. Lafayette Marquez wanted: The collective unconscious of Acadiana is seeking a writer willing to render the vividness of the region in a manner similar to that of Gabriel Garcia Marquez. I had some trouble placing the ad because the online categories offered didn't seem to fit. It wasn't furniture or farm implements or real estate, so I settled for outdoors and chose a subcategory called misc. A writer - if he or she is anything - is an outdoor misc. Or, maybe an indoor misc. I hope somebody answers.

Following up on John's question, I realized that New Orleans doesn't have a Marquez either. And if there's a Macondo anywhere in the U.S., it's New Orleans. Baton Rouge doesn't have one either and there are hundreds, possibly thousands, of places in Louisiana and elsewhere that don't have one.

Some of those places may not be ready for one. Baton Rouge, for instance, may be ready for John Updike, but not for Marquez. On the other hand, scholars say that Marquez himself got his moves from Faulkner, who drew his pictures from the state of Mississippi. In that case, we might as well ask, where is Louisiana's Faulkner?

SIEGEL: Andrei Codrescu call Southern Louisiana home.

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