Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Leganski novel engaging in its storytelling

             The birth of Dancy Arrow’s baby boy is the one bright light in a time of tragedy but the infant isn’t making a sound. Unbeknownst to everyone, Bonaventure Arrow’s silence is actually a rare gift of incredible hearing, one that captures the rapture inside raindrops and the birthing of stars. His birth and talent will help heal not only his mother, but those close to her also holding painful secrets, all with the help of an equally gifted Creole woman named Trinidad Prefontaine.
             “The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow” by Rita Leganski takes place in the fictional town of Bayou Cymbaline, just outside New Orleans. The story revolves around the courtship and marriage of William and Dancy Arrow, until a man known as “the Wanderer” kills William in a fit of rage inside a New Orleans A&P.
            Because Bonaventure’s hearing is so acute, he and his deceased father have lengthy discussions. And because both Bonaventure and Trinidad can reach into frequencies most cannot, a bond develops between them. As Bonaventure grows and he collects wisdom and comfort from a magical gris-gris of sources, he is led to bring those living in an earthly purgatory into peace.
            Leganski grew up and lives in the Midwest but has always been fascinating by Southern literature. “The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow” grew out of a graduate school assignment. She set the story in Louisiana, “a magical, haunted, and lovely place steeped in faith and superstition — the ideal home for a gifted little boy who could hear fantastical sounds,” she writes in the book’s end.
            She adds that visits to New Orleans solidified the book’s authenticity; indeed she captures the area’s ambience and nuances remarkably well. “New Orleans is music and sass,” she writes. “It is beads and carnival and Creole spice. If it were human, New Orleans might be a society lady with holes in her stockings and her feet in dancing shoes.”
            “The Silence of Bonaventure Arrow” does invoke feelings of mystical Southern classics, of rich characters and their religious ways, of seeing (or hearing) the spiritual in earthy ways, like grasping sacred objects for a gris gris bag to hold close and derive comfort and knowledge. Leganski has penned a delightful tale that’s both engaging in its storytelling and moving in its spirituality.

New releases
            Earl W. Hampton Jr., Louis Costa, Andre Neff and Peter Raarup have come up with an ingenious idea — “The Streetcar Guide to New Orleans.” This handy little book small enough to fit inside a purse offers a tour of New Orleans by way of the streetcar lines, including the neighborhoods along St. Charles Avenue and Carrollton, Canal Street from the Central Business District to City Park, along Loyola Avenue and the Mississippi riverfront. There’s even side tours, such as the handy guide to getting off the St. Charles line and traveling throughout the Garden District or the trip down Broadway to Audubon Park and the levee. 
             The book features photos, maps, addresses, historical notes and locations of streetcar stops. For tourists, there’s also streetcar schedules and riding times to plan their day, plus a handy list of hotels located throughout the city so that visitors can utilize the city’s historic public transportation.

Amazon news
            Amazon announced it is launching a literary fiction imprint called Little A, which will publish novels, memoirs and story collections. Little A’s authors will include James Franco, A.L. Kennedy and Jenny Davidson. Amazon will also publish a digital-only series called Day One that will publish short stories from debut authors. The first one was “When a Camel Breaks Your Heart” by Kodi Scheer and the second, released March 19, was “Monster” by Bridget Clerkin.

Art Show
            The Southern Gardenia Artists will host an Art Show competition at Barnes & Noble Lafayette from April 1-27. The show is open to the public, and SGA is accepting submissions now at Barnes & Noble. The entry fee is $15 per piece (limit six per artist) and mediums accepted include oil, acrylic, watercolor, colored pencil and pastel framed or on wrapped canvas. All entries must be wire hung. Judging will take place April 22-25 by local artist Tony Bernard. The Awards Ceremony will be held at 10 a.m. April 27 at Barnes & Noble Lafayette. For more information, contact Linda Matherne at (337) 856-7369 or (337) 280-6918 or 
Cathy Barnett at (337) 783-8765 or (337) 384-4050.

Book events
            “Hollywood on the Bayou,” an exhibit of Louisiana film memorabilia and history, is now on display in the library at Nicholls State in Thibodaux and will run through June 21. The exhibit is based on Ed and Susan Poole’s book, “Louisiana Film History: A Comprehensive Overview Beginning 1896.”  
            Author Charles Jolivette will host a three-city, Saturday, March 30, release party of his new children’s book, “Bayou Babies Really Cookin’.” He will be on hand to sign copies of books and introduce the five “real-to-life stand-up dolls” of Moni, Manny, Janet, Tanya and Leonard. The events will be 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Carpe Diem Gelato & Espresso Bar at 812 Jefferson St. in Lafayette, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Casa Azul Gifts, 232 Martin Luther King Drive in Grand Coteau and, for adults only, at 8 p.m. at the Wine Loft in Mandeville. For information, visit

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