Monday, November 7, 2011

Fuller's book showcases Louisiana's many colorful people, stories


            One of the many great aspects of the Louisiana Book Festival on the grounds of the state Capitol is listening to authors speak wisdom where politicians once spoke…well, I’ll leave that up to you kind readers. First, you have to be body scanned to enter the Capitol building, then you get to hear literature discussed with massive TVs watching your every move. And authors get to have those fun little committee room mics at their disposal. Makes you want them to say, “If I may, Mister Chairman…”
R. Reese Fuller, author of “Angola to Zydeco: Louisiana Lives,” brought his family to Senate Committee Room F, to watch dad speak about his debut book. They were enjoying the exploration of its political technology, his young son happily using the mic to inform us he was writing a book himself. When Fuller was introduced, his wife, Heather, suggested she reign in the kids but the crowd disagreed, something about innocence gone wild in the halls of power that made us all happy. Plus it added to Fuller’s presentation, who read from his book while his daughter danced about him, a sweet reminder of the stories that continue to surround us.
“Angola to Zydeco” is a collection of 25 articles Fuller published in the Times of Acadiana and The Independent of Lafayette, essays on South Louisiana notables such as Ernest J. Gaines, Buckwheat Zydeco, Marc Savoy and Eddie Shuler.  Although Fuller now teaches English and history at the Episcopal School of Acadiana, his foray into journalism produced fascinating tales, which he recounted at the festival.
            There’s the eclectic story of Greg Kerr of Opelousas, who claimed to be “an anointed cherub” able to heal and the secret of writing from best-selling author James Lee Burke (“There is no secret”). Fuller examined both hurricanes of 2005, visited Angola prison and spent “one day in Jena” during a rally where nearly 30,000 descended on the small town. My personal favorite, and one Fuller read at the festival, was a tribute to Elemore Morgan Jr. who painted Louisiana prairie horizons “where our planet ends and where the limitless universe begins,” Fuller writes. Morgan’s art graces the book’s cover.
            “Angola to Zydeco” showcases what makes our state great — its people and their endless colorful stories. What makes this book even more special is that it’s written by a native, a writer who spends more time letting the subjects speak for themselves than explaining how colorful Louisiana is.
Fuller will be part of a literary reading with Martha Garner and Chamir Murphy, who teach English at Southeast Elementary School in Opelousas, at 7 p.m. Thursday at Casa Azul Gifts in Grand Coteau. Have a story of your own? An open mic follows their reading.
            For more informaiton about “Angola to Zydeco,” visit www.reesefuller.com/angola-to-zydeco.

Book news
            “Furnishing Louisiana: Creole and Acadian Furniture, 1735–1835,” published by The Historic New Orleans Collection, has been recognized by the Southeastern Museums Conference’s 23rd Annual Publication Design Competition with a Gold Award in the Books and Catalogues category, as well as the Best in Show award. Designed by Tana Coman, “Furnishing Louisiana” features more than 1,200 full-color images, including several by Louisiana photographer Jim Zietz, and presents a comprehensive catalogue of furniture forms produced in the upper and lower Mississippi River valley.
            James Nolan will read from and sign copies of “Higher Ground,” a novel published by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press, at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 9, at Octavia Books in New Orleans.
The Friends of Dupré Library Annual Book Sale will be Thursday through Saturday, Nov. 10-12, at the library, 400 E. St. Mary St. on the UL campus in Lafayette. Times are 8-4:15 Thursday and Friday and 10-3 Saturday. For information, call (337) 482-6677.
            The North Louisiana Storytellers meets from 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 12, at Bossier Central Library History Center, 2206 Beckett St. in Shreveport. Louisiana fantasy writer Faith Hunter will speak on “Your First 5 Pages – Make It or Break It.” Participants should bring the first five pages of their work in progress to get the most from this workshop. For information, visit nolastars.com.