Casual Questions with Oliver Houck

Oliver Houck is the author of Down on the Batture. For those that don't know, a batture is the stretch of land found between a river at low-water stage and the levee. This term is most commonly used to describe the lower Mississippi River—a rim of sand, mud, and trees.

Down on the Batture describes the ordinary and extraordinary things found in this forgotten stretch of woods along the banks of the Mississippi just upstream of New Orleans. The book consists of thirty-eight nonfiction essays, each with its own theme but related to the others in time, place, and a few overlapping characters.

Houck is a professor of law at Tulane University. He will be signing copies of his book at Octavia Books on Wednesday, June 2 at 6:00 p.m.
  • What was your first job?

    My first real job (beyond helping my father around the house on endless Sundays) was at Dr Chehayle’s Veterinary Clinic. I cleaned up the dog cages with a putty knife and garbage bucket and dumped it in the ravine beyond.
  • How do you like to relax?

    I most like to wander the out of doors, by canoe if possible, because it puts me beyond the reach of machines (until three wheelers were invented).
  • What is the most satisfying thing about having a book published?

    I’d thought I’d feel a sudden wash of relief, but like a kid leaving home he is never really gone. I can never read something I’ve written, even years later, without mentally editing it. Perhaps the best part though is the lifting of the responsibility: it is finally out of my hands. My mind is already elsewhere.