Monday, January 14, 2013

New releases by LSU Press, LEH, Andrei Codrescu

            Randy Harelson discusses the history and culture of Pointe Coupee Parish, complemented by haunting photos of Richard Sexton in the LSU Press coffee table book, “New Roads and Old Rivers: Louisiana’s Historic Pointe Coupee Parish.” This gorgeous book dedicated to one of the oldest parishes in the state examines its unique geography, hugging oxbow lakes of Old River and False River and bookended by the Mississippi River and the Atchafalaya. Because of its water access plantations were popular here, attracting Creole families as early as 1726.
            The authors offer sections on the many historic properties of the parish, unique architectural structures such as the new Aubudon Bridge, old neighborhoods and towns, churches and cemeteries and popular spots such as the Miss Jane Pittman Oak, inspired by the work of Ernest Gaines. 
            One of the highlights of 2012 was the publication of the impressive “A Unique Slant of Light: The Bicentennial History of Art in Louisiana,” published by the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities and honoring 200 years of Louisiana statehood.
            The giant 456-page tome commissioned by the state’s Bicentennial Commission begins with Louisiana’s establishment as a colony in 1699 moving up to present-day and Louisiana’s contemporary scene.  “A Unique Slant of Light” includes 276 entries on Louisiana artists, authored by dozens of scholars and more than 400 images from private collections and the state’s major museums and archives, including the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Historic New Orleans Collection, the Louisiana State Museum, the LSU Museum of Art, the Meadows Museum at Centenary College of Louisiana and the New Orleans Museum of Art.
            The book comes with a hefty price tag ($120) but worth the money, not to mention profits benefit the LEH.  

Other new releases
            Poet and essayist Andrei Codrescu has two new titles out — “Bibliodeath: My Archives (With Life in Footnotes),” which surveys the evolutionary relationship between language and technology through Codrescu’s career as an American writer, and “So Recently Rent a World: New and Selected Poems 1968 – 2012” by Coffee House Press. Codrescu is the author of 40 books, has edited the literary magazine Exquisite Corpse, and is featured regularly on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” A former resident of New Orleans, he currently lives in the Ozarks.
            Pelican Publishing of New Orleans has released “Creole Gumbo and All That Jazz: A New Orleans Seafood Cookbook” by the late Howard Mitcham, a New Orleans chef, poet, artist and raconteur. Anthony Bourdain said of the book: “Hugely influential for me and my budding culinary peers of the time . . . both [Mitcham] and his books were fascinating depositories of recipes, recollections, history, folklore and illustrations, drawing on his abiding love for humble, working-class ethnic food of the area.”
            NewSouth Books has published “Eden Rise,” a first novel by Robert J. Norrell, historian and civil rights scholar acclaimed for his biography on Booker T. Washington and winner of the 1986 Robert F. Kennedy Book Award for “Reaping the Whirlwind.” “Eden Rise” follows a white college freshman who returns home to the Alabama Black Belt in the summer of 1965 and becomes embroiled in a civil-rights conflict that divides his family and town. You can learn more and read an excerpt at

Children’s books
            New Orleans children’s book author Whitney Stewart informed me she has a children’s book on meditation coming out next year and a New Orleans young adult novel in the works. Things to look forward to for 2013. But if you haven’t read any of Stewart’s books, she is the author of “Marshall, The Sea Dog,” “Mr. Lincoln’s Gift,” “Who Was Walt Disney?” and “Coffin’s Ghost.” For more information, visit
            Roger Raymond of New Iberia is the author and creator of “Ralph Filmore: Paranormal Investigator,” a children’s book series he is working on becoming a TV series and video game, and “The Fun Adventures of Puff and Bean,” written by Roger and his wife, LaLonda Raymond. For more information, visit
            Jeff Kinney brings his unique magic in storytelling and artistry with “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Third Wheel.” Main character Greg Heffley has his usual middle school angst and issues but a Valentine’s Day dance provides special conflict when he has to find a date.
            A lovely new creative children’s picture book that combines paper cut collages from old catalogues, books and letters to create snow scenes is “A Perfect Day” by Carin Berger. After a snowstorm, the world turns white, offering all kinds of winter fun. After ice skating, making snow angels, sleding and more, the children return home to “warm hugs and dry clothes and steaming hot chocolate.”

State Library contest
            The State Library of Louisiana’s Center for the Book, in partnership with the Louisiana Writing Project, is now accepting entries to Letters About Literature, a national reading-writing contest for students. To enter, fourth through 10th grade students should write personal letters to authors, living or dead, from any genre explaining how the author’s work changed the student’s way of thinking about the world or themselves.
            Louisiana’s first place winners’ entries will be submitted to the Library of Congress for the national competition with the chance of winning $1,000.
State winners in each level, to be announced in April, will receive $100 for first place, $75 for second place and $50 for third place. State winners will be recognized at the Louisiana Book Festival on Nov. 2, 2013.
            Students may enter either on their own or through a classroom teacher, school or library. There are three competition levels: level 1 for grades 4–6, level 2 for grades 7–8 and level 3 for grades 9–10. The student’s letter and entry coupon, available online, must be sent by Jan. 13, 2013, to Letters About Literature, P.O. Box 5308, Woodbridge, VA 22194.
            Teachers and home-school instructors along with school, public children and public young adult librarians can download Letters About Literature lesson plans for their curricula and programming as well as find entry forms at  

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