Where Storyville Lives!

May 23, 2019


Isn’t it wonderful how people and places become more fantastic when immortalized in a book? Much of this is due to the writer’s craft. However, much is also due to the reader’s imagination. The reader’s mind will fill in the sights and sounds of a scene, or the personality traits of a character. This creates a reality where every sense is heightened. Yes, there is nothing more alive than a story told in a book.

In 2008 I took a trip to New Orleans. Before hand, I had done extensive reading about the city’s history and unique culture. I learned about Jazz, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, and a place called Storyville. On this trip I desired most of all to visit Storyville where artists like Armstrong and Morton helped develop America’s only original art form-Jazz! At the turn of the Twentieth Century, Storyville New Orleans was known for its night life. The streets were lubricated with liquor, and on any given night every class of society could be found there letting loose. In Storyville there were many pleasures to be had, but none greater than the music. The feel of syncopated rhythms-leaping and skipping, the smell of cigar smoke and gun powder, and the sound of street-corner trumpeters’ swinging familiar melodies were all sensations I had created through reading. To me, Storyville had become a mythical place like an Olympus for jazz musicians. It was a place that I must witness first hand.

All book lovers fall in love with their favorite characters and favorite places. Most find this very satisfying and a top reason to read. We at The Book Nook love hearing about readers’ favorite characters and stories. We also wish everybody could enjoy the gift of books. The Madison County Literacy Coalition’s motto is , “ …so all can read.” We desire for everybody to have the experiences that only take place in books. 100% of the monies made at The Anderson Book Nook go directly to fund The Madison County Literacy Coalition which offers free tutoring to adults who struggle with reading. When you shop and donate with us you are helping someone learn to read, and that is something everybody can feel good about!

I finally set out looking for Storyville. It was hard to locate because there were no signs marking it. A bus driver pointed me in the right direction, and I eventually found the old neighborhood by following street names. However, after an epic build up, I was tragically let down. The Storyville I found was made of quiet streets lined with apartments and boutiques. I was dumbfounded. A hundred years ago Jelly Roll Morton made a thousand dollars a night playing piano here, and now there was nothing. There was no music and not an up-right piano in sight. The energy of a bygone era had completely dissipated. How could the place that birthed jazz feel so vacant? I left New Orleans disappointed and detached, but in retrospect I was encouraged. The real Storyville will always live in books, and anybody can visit there anytime they want. The real Storyville will always live with me!

Written by: Brett Wiley