Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Villien offers fascinating history of Maurice, Louisiana

            Douglas L. Villien Sr. wanted to pen a biography of his great grandfather, Jean-Maurice Villien, founder of the town of Maurice. Jean-Maurice Villien’s travel to South Louisiana from France as a young entrepreneur provided a fascinating tale on its own.
            What emerged from Douglas Villien, a freelance writer who has written extensively on Maurice, was a history of the entire town, from its early origins — including Jean-Maurice Villien’s biography — to the town today.
            “Between the Crossroads: A Centennial History of Maurice, Louisiana” is an impressive undertaking, offering valuable historical information on the town’s citizens, churches, businesses, trade routes, political leaders and so much more. There’s also a biographical section on the town’s movers and shakers, appendixes and timelines and a nice collection of photos, both old and new.
            Did you know that Maurice birthed the turducken, bourré game and Cajun Bloody Marys? Or that world famous designer Vivian Alexander and Racing Hall of Fame and three-time Kentucky Derby winner Kent DesOrmeaux call it home?
            The book’s a must for Maurice residents and lovers of Louisiana history. It can be found online through amazon.com and at Louisiana MarketShops at 115 in Henderson-Breaux Bridge, The Depot in Abbeville and Vermilionville Gift Shop.

Book news
            “Five Days at Memorial: Life and Death in a Storm-Ravaged Hospital” by Pulitzer Prize-winner Sheri Fink has been picked as the Morning Joe Book Club’s first book out the gate. The book is “a harrowing report of patient deaths at New Orleans’ Memorial Medical Center in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, and exposes just how unprepared America is for large-scale disasters,” according to the publisher. The book club is a series of discussions on nonfiction books by MSNBC.

New releases
          “Remembering Rapides’ Rebels: 150th Anniversary Portraits of Confederates and other Civil War figures of Rapides Parish, Louisiana” has just been released, part of a series of books commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. The book offers historical information on more than 1,000 men from Rapides Parish who served in the war. The book includes a biography, service record and, in some cases, photos, and is available through amazon.com.
            New Orleans native Elaine Parker Adams has completed a biography of her great-grandfather, the Rev. Peter W. Clark, who served the Methodist Episcopal Church during the latter 19th century and early 20th century. “The Reverend Peter W. Clark: Sweet Preacher and Steadfast Reformer” (published by WestBow Press) follows Clark during the post-Reconstruction period as he built churches in rural Louisiana, established missions in New Orleans and served as founding presiding elder of the Lake Charles district of the Louisiana conference. The book details his achievements as a religious and community leader dealing with crises ranging from Mississippi River flooding to axe murders and also on the personal sacrifices Clark and his family made for what is now the United Methodist Church. Adams, who now lives in Houston, was the founding president of Houston Community College – Northeast. 
            Former West Monroe resident Wayne Hogue, a leadership and character advocate and professor, has published “Elements of Leaders of Character,” explaining what “character is destiny” by Heraclitus means and how that impacts readers. “ ‘Character is destiny’ is just as true today as it was 2,500 years ago, maybe more true now than then,” Hague said in his press release. “What this means is our character determines the quality of every outcome and aspect of our life. Most importantly, it means we have some control over our own destiny because we have control over many of the elements of our character.” The book is now available in print and as an e-book from http://leadersofcharacter.com, Westbow Press (http://bookstore.westbowpress.com) or in bookstores or online booksellers. 

Let’s Talk!
            “Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys” seeks to familiarize U.S. citizens with the people, places, history, faith and cultures of Muslims. The program, titled “American Stories,” follows a series of texts about Americans of Muslim faith in history and contemporary times. “American Stories” will take place at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday through Oct. 29 at Louisiana Tech’s University Hall. For information, call (318) 257-2872.

Louisiana Book Festival
            The 10th annual Louisiana Book Festival will host a number of music-related programs as part of Lt. Governor Jay Dardenne’s yearlong salute to Louisiana music
           Singer-songwriter Mary Gauthier will lead a full-day pre-festival songwriting WordShop Friday, Nov. 1, at the State Library and will be interviewed by author Wally Lamb at the festival on Nov. 2. Lamb included Gauthier’s “I Drink” on his playlist for his novel “The Hour I First Believed.”
            Other author presentations on music-related books include “Creole Trombone: Kid Ory and the Early Years of Jazz” by John McCusker, “Traditional Music of Coastal Louisiana: The 1934 Lomax Recordings” by Joshua Caffery and “Unconquered: The Saga of Cousins Jerry Lee Lewis, Jimmy Swaggart and Mickey Gilley” by J.D. Davis. There will be a panel on Louisiana music with Tom Aswell, author of “Louisiana Rocks!,” and Shane Bernard, author of “Swamp Pop: Cajun and Creole Rhythm and Blues.” Singer-songwriter Zachary Richard will give a presentation on his book, “Histoire des Acadiennes et des Acadiens de la Louisiane.”


            Live music performances will take place throughout the day on Spanish Town Road, including singer-songwriter Yvette Landry, who will also discuss her children’s book “The Ghost Tree” at the festival. The debut performance of a show based on “The Shoe Burnin’: Stories of Southern Soul” will also take place in the Capitol Park Museum auditorium.


            The Louisiana Book Festival takes place 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 2, in Capitol Park in downtown Baton Rouge. For more information, visit www.LouisianaBookFestival.org.

Book events
            A poetry reading and open mic with Liz Burk and Kelly Clayton will be from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Thursday at the Thensted Center, 268 Church St. in Grand Coteau. The event is free and open to the public. Burk is a psychologist who divides her time between a practice in New York and a husband in southwest Louisiana. Her work has appeared in anthologies and journals including “The Southern Poetry Anthology: Louisiana,”  “The Louisiana Review” and “South Carolina Review.” Her chap book, “Learning to Love Louisiana,” (Yellow Flag Press) will be available for sale. Clayton is a Louisiana Creole, moved home after 20 years in New York City. Her poetry has been published in many journals including Future Cycle Press, Delacorte Press, Gloom Cupboard, and The Dead Mule School of Southern Literacy.  
            LSU’s Hill Memorial Library will host its first open house Tuesday for LSU students and the public. On view will be items from the library’s special collections, pulled from more than 5,000 manuscripts, 80,000 rare books and thousands of photographs.


Cheré Coen is the author of “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana,” both from The History Press, 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 cherecoen@gmail.com.