Monday, January 14, 2013

A few titles that got away

             One of the problems of writing a book column that highlights books and authors of an entire state is the mound of books that sometimes appears on my desk, or the wonderful literary events that need mentioning every week. It’s sometimes hard to keep up with it all.
            Here are a few books that got away from me this year — and there are more, I assure you. My apologies to the authors and publishers — and to those I might have missed.
            One of the thrills of 2012 was receiving James Lee Burke’s “Creole Bell” and knowing that his recurring character, Dave Robicheaux, was alive and still chasing the state’s demons. I savored this book but failed to review it, but I doubt Burke lovers are waiting for me to tell them to buy it. “Creole Bell” deals with Robicheaux healing in a New Orleans hospital after receiving gun shot wounds from Burke’s previous book, “The Glass Rainbow.” In a morphine haze he receives a visitor, Tee Jolie Melton, who gives him an iPod with a country blues song, “My Creole Belle.” Robicheaux later learns Tee Jolie is missing and her sister turns up dead. Coupled with a Gulf oil spill, Robicheaux is on the trail once again.
            Sherry Alexander’s “Courtroom Carnival: Famous New Orleans Trials” (Pelican Publishing) is a well-written and highly entertaining collection of some of the most colorful judicial experiences of the Big Easy, from Popeyes Al Copeland to former Gov. Edwin Edwards. The book contains 10 chapters and not only discusses the trials but the personalities and life stories as well. There’s Jefferson Parish Sheriff Harry Lee, TV and radio personality Ron Hunter, Harry Connick Sr., the “Singing D.A.” and much more. The book is edited and sometimes written by Alexander, a journalist who serves on the Loyola University faculty, and includes contributions by Jennifer John Block, Eric Bremer, Lyn Koppel, Glenn Watts and Charles Zewe.
             Also out this year by Pelican is a reprint of Robert Tallant’s 1952 book, “Ready to Hang: Seven Famous New Orleans Murders,” discussing some of the city’s most notorious murders. Tallant wrote novels, short stories, books for children and nonfiction titles for years from his hometown of New Orleans, including “Evangeline and the Acadians,” “The Pirate Lafitte and the Battle of New Orleans” and “Gumbo Ya-Ya: Folk Tales of Louisiana.”

La. State Library’s Teen Video Challenge
            The State Library of Louisiana will again participate in the Collaborative Summer Library Program’s Teen Video Challenge, a national video competition for teens to encourage them to read and be involved with their public library’s summer reading program.
            Teenagers may enter the competition by creating a public service announcement that encourages teens to read and visit libraries during the summer using the theme “Beneath the Surface.”
            The winning video from each participating state will be announced in spring 2013 and used by public libraries nationally to promote summer reading. The creators of the winning state video will be awarded $275 and their associated public library will receive prizes worth $125 from the CSLP.
            Rules and details for the teen video challenge can be found on the State Library’s website,
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