Monday, December 3, 2012

Books by local authors make great holiday gifts!

             Books make great gifts. They provide entertainment, education, inspiration and literacy and the experience of reading lasts a lifetime. Please consider books in your holiday giving.           
            With that in mind, the University of Louisiana-Lafayette Press Holiday Book Sale, with titles discounted by at least 20 percent off of the regular retail price, will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the UL Alumni Center, 600 E. St. Mary Blvd.
            The event will include new releases, signed copies of UL Press books, complimentary refreshments and gift wrapping, and all purchases come with a complimentary tote bag as well.
            The sale continues from noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at Casa Azul Gifts,
232 Martin Luther King Drive in Grand Coteau.

New releases
            John McCusker, a photographer for the Times-Picayune of New Orleans, has published “Creole Trombone: Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz” with the University Press of Mississippi. Ory performed with Louis Armstrong and King Oliver, was part of the first African American New Orleans jazz recordings and is the composer of the jazz standard “Muskrat Ramble.” McCusker was part of the team that shared the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Journalism for covering Hurricane Katrina.
            Chin Music Press has published “Jackson Squared: The Heart of the Quarter,” created by Tom Varisco and featuring photos by Jackson Hill and Will Crocker with a foreword by John Biguenet. The book contains essays by Biguenet, John Carr, Nicole Biguenet Pedersen and Susan Sarver. Varisco is the creator of “Spoiled,” a photo book of Hurricane Katrina refrigerator art, and Signs of New Orleans, a record of the city's colorful street signs.
            Mary Lou Widmer and Joan B. Garvy of New Orleans published a concise history of the city in 1982 titled “Beautiful Crescent: A History of New Orleans.” Pelican Publishing has updated the book with edits by Kathy Chappetta Spiess and Karen Chappetta with a foreword by Jane Molony of the Friends of the Cabildo, which uses the book for training its volunteers.
            Widmer and Garvy have also reissued “Louisiana: The First 300 Years,” which follows the state’s history from its early origins as a colony to 2001.
            Roy W. Rusha, a veteran of Vietnam and the Louisiana State Police, has published a gripping mystery surrounding a massive drug bust in the bayous of Louisiana titled “Wrestling with Pigs.” Rusha plans future booksignings in Lafayette at La Fonda and Legends Bar & Grill, so be on the lookout.
            David Lummis has published part two in his three-part series “The Coffee Shop Chronicles of New Orleans.” Titled “The Last Beaucoeur,” the book picks up where part one left off, on the morning of Aug. 26, 2005. B. Sammy Singleton is still reeling from the night before and his best friend, Catfish Beaucoeur, is missing, having left behind clues including a book of lynching photography and a disturbing handwritten poem. Singleton gives up writing his coffee shop guidebook and takes off on a whirlwind trip to find Catfish. “Here is a guy who can paint accurately while he suffers — a talented bohemian, in other words. A worthy addition to your growing New Orleans shelf,” writes Andrei Codrescu. For more information, visit
            The third book in Susan Fleet’s Frank Renzi mystery series, “Natalie’s Revenge,” looks at two murders 20 years apart in New Orleans. The book is available for the Kindle and paperback versions are available at For more information, visit
            Scott Anthony Choplin of St. Martinville has compiled a book of poetry but sees it more than a random collection, which is why he titles it “R.I.P. Poetry Collection: Reflections, Illuminations and Perceptions.” The book is full of Choplin’s insight into life. “R.I.P. Poetry Collection” is available from AuthorHouse.
         Constance Monies Gremillion, a freelance journalist and teacher and a direct descendant of two of the original Acadian families to settle in Louisiana, has written a debut novel published by Cypress Cove Publishing. “A House For Eliza” tells the true story of a Cajun family in Lafayette at the turn of the 19th century through the eyes of Eliza Landry. The book offers the reader what it was like to live on a plantation in the late 1800s and raise a family of 17 children during two World Wars and the Great Depression. Today, the house of Eliza and Oscar Daigle is located on Convent Street and is featured in the Lafayette Preservation Society’s “Tour of Lafayette.” The book is available at,, Barnes and Noble and selected bookstores and gift shops in Lafayette and surrounding areas.
            Sylvia Dickey Smith’s latest Sidra Smart mystery takes readers to the swamps bordering Texas and Louisiana. “The Swamp Whisperer” follows Boo Murphy, a cranky old swamp-rat who prefers to spend time in her pirogue, hunting and fishing, but is pulled into a strange world when she discovers a deserted brush-hut deep in the bayou. The discovery leads Boo into a clandestine effort to resurrect a cultural site for the Atakapa-Ishak natives. But are the leaders legit, or do they have other self-serving passions?
            Iris Floyd of Baton Rouge has published “Six-of-One,” a humorous novel set in New Orleans over Labor Day weekend and involving six women of different races, creeds, backgrounds and aspirations with two things in common: a 10-year secret and desperation. The book is available at and Tate Publishing’s web site.

Southern Beast
            South Louisiana actress Quvenzhané Wallis, who starred as Hushpuppy in the independent film “Beasts of the Southern Wild,” was featured on the cover of this month’s Oscar issue of “Quvenzhané Wallis” is a fierce new face in the Oscar race,” the cover states.

Book events
            The Black Widow Salon presents poet Dave Brinks discussing his new book, “The Secret Brain: Selected Poems 1995-2012,” at 7 p.m. Monday at Crescent City Books, 230 Chartres St. in New Orleans.
            The 1718 Society, a student-run literary organization made up of Tulane, Loyola and UNO students, host Benjamin Morris  at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Columns Hotel on St. Charles Avenue in New Orleans. Open to the public.
            Michael Allen Zell and Jenn Marie Nunes read from their work at 8 p.m. Thursday at Gold Mine Saloon in New Orleans, part of the 17Poets. For more information, visit
            Lesley Crawford Costner will sign copies of “Goodnight Acadiana” Friday at Acadian Village as part of the Noel Acadien au Village celebration.
            John Slaughter will sign copies of “Grand Coteau” and Robert Carriker will sign “Boudin” from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at Barnes & Noble, 5705 Johnston St.
            Author’s Alley features me (Cheré Coen) signing “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana,” John Francois signing “Pontiac” and other historical novels set in South Louisiana, Andy Hebert signing “Christmas on a Bayou” and John Morella signing “Give Teens a Break” and “A Guide For Effective Psychotherapy” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday at the North Regional Branch Library in Carencro.
Cheré Coen is the author of “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” She teaches writing at UL-Lafayette’s Continuing Education. Write her at