Julia Reed

Rum Punch, Straight Up

Several years ago, when Quentin Tarantino made Elmore Leonard's Rum Punch into a film called Jackie Brown, it captured almost none of the book's genius. Leonard's work is deceptively multilayered, full of mood and pitch-perfect rhythm and action that seems entirely unforced. Most important, there's never been an Elmore Leonard novel that contains a single thing it shouldn't.

Food: Pigs Go Upscale

In his new Pig: King of The Southern Table, James Villas writes that he has "yet to meet a fellow Southerner who didn't love, respect, and, indeed, understand pig like no other Americans." The book's exhaustive collection of recipes from across the region proves Villas's case—and reminds me that not only do we utilize pretty much every pig part, but we save the leftovers to embellish almost everything else.

The Return of Legal Absinthe

For the past three years it has been legal, once again, to sell absinthe in America. So far I have seen no noteworthy spike in violent crime, creativity, or especially wanton debauchery, all of which were purported results of regular absinthe drinking in its heyday, starting in the 1860s.

Goodbye and Good Riddance, Gov. Blanco

New Orleans, 18 months after Katrina, is still a city of considerable ups and downs. Tuesday was no different; as usual, the bad news came first. The first e-mail I received informed me that a block and a half from our new house, at 1:30 in the afternoon, two hold-ups occurred in less than 10 minutes—and I live in the Garden District, still perceived as a "nice" neighborhood, despite the alarming frequency of similar attacks, along with a recent rash of break-ins of both cars and houses (one...

Renaissance Man

The first time I dined with the legendary R. W. Apple, Jr., it was in St. Petersburg in 1997 at the newly opened Grand Hotel Europe. We'd been traveling with Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and her press spokesman, Jamie Rubin, who was familiar with Apple's gargantuan appetite and gourmet tastes and who had arranged a small dinner with courses that were to be worked out between the chef and Apple himself.

Isle of Denial

Moments after New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin won reelection with the smallest margin in modern mayoral history, he took the podium at the Marriott ballroom and proclaimed: "This is a great day for the city of New Orleans." We are, he said, "ready to take off."Well, nine months after Katrina and only days before the next hurricane season begins, one would hope.