Sunday, March 16, 2014

Irwin pens history of crawfish in Louisiana

            I vividly remember the first time I visited the Crawfish Festival. I owned a tin box of a Datsun and piled a group of my friends inside for the ride from LSU to Breaux Bridge. In addition to the great music and dancing, we ate boiled crawfish from plastic tubular bags while sitting on a curb, the juice dripping down our arms. On the way home we stopped at Pat’s in Henderson for more crawfish and libations, ending one of the most enjoyable days I had in college.
            Sam Irwin brought back those fun memories in his new book which tackles the history of our state’s mudbugs, “Louisiana Crawfish: A Succulent History of the CajunCrustacean,” published by The History Press. The book details how our love affair with crawfish began and really took off with the advent of the industry, its trials and heydays and enjoying crawfish today. There’s also plenty on that now famous Crawfish Festival in Breaux Bridge, designated the “Crawfish Capital of the World” at the town’s 1959 centennial.
            The book is full of great photos and includes some wonderful recipes, some from historic places such as the original étouffée recipe of Mrs. Charles Hebert and Aline Guidry. It’s a great tribute to those who started it all, making the current crawfish fisheries a $210 million industry.
            Irwin is the product of a “mixed marriage,” his father being a north Louisiana native and his mother from Cajun Country. The Baton Rouge freelance journalist has worked for the Louisiana Market Bulletin and the Louisiana Department of Agriculture and Forestry.
            Upcoming book events for “Louisiana Crawfish” include a talk and signing at 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, at Octavia Books in New Orleans, 2 p.m. Saturday, March 22, at Barnes & Noble Baton Rouge, 7 p.m. March 27 at the Thensted Center in Grand Coteau, titled “Stories of Crawfish and The Way Things Used to Be” as part of the Festival of Words, and at noon March 28 at LSU-Eunice.

Heart Wide Open
            Shellie Rushing Tomlinson is known for her distinctive Southern-style humor in books such as “Suck Your Stomach In and Put Some Color On” and “Sue Ellen’s GirlAin’t Fat, She Just Weighs Heavy!” She also pens the popular blog, “All Things Southern” and is the host of the weekly radio broadcast, “All Things Southern LIVE.”
            The latest book from the Lake Providence author comes after she questioned the depth of her relationship with God, discovering that she was a good church-going Christian but lacked the deep feeling that others were experiencing. The result is an interesting new book, “Heart Wide Open: Trading Mundane Faith for anExuberant Life with Jesus,” that not only encourages readers to find God but to develop an intimate experience. As with her other books, the style is friendly, engaging and all things Southern.
            For more information on Tomlinson’s books and to check out her blog, hear podcasts, watch videos and other fun offerings from this versatile woman, visit
             Tomlinson signs “Heart Wide Open” from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, at Every Occasion, 703 Prairie St. in Winnsboro and on March 25 at the Barnes & Noble
in Shreveport.

New releases
            Clifton Taulbert, author of the bestseller “Once Upon a Time When We Were Colored,” has published a memoir, “The Invitation,” chronicling the transformative experience Taulbert had in accepting an invitation to supper in Allendale, South Carolina. At a former plantation house the author confronts his childhood memories and wrestles with legacies of slavery and segregation that return to haunt him. Seeing cotton fields and shotgun shacks that remind him of his growing up years in racially segregated Mississippi, Taulbert realizes that he is now asked to cross racial barriers that no “colored” man could previously have crossed without dire consequences. Taulbert is the author of five other books and president and CEO of Roots Java Coffee and the founder and president of the Building Community Institute.
            C.S. Harris of Baton Rouge has just published the ninth book in her Sebastian St. Cyr Regency mystery series, “Why Kings Confess.”
            New York Times-bestselling series author Nevada Barr has sold an untitled Anna Pigeon novel, which features a National Park Service Ranger who solves mysteries in her job. The book will be published in the winter of 2016, a sequel to her 2014 novel “Destroyer Angel.” Barr lives in New Orleans.

Gueydan Bookstore
            A couple of weeks ago we wrote about a new bookstore in Abbeville named Kjuntales. This week we got the following letter: “Were you aware that our little bookstore in Vermilion Parish has been open and at the same location for 12 years?” asked Sean Gayle, who owns Patti’s Book Nook in Gueydan with James Gayle. “We sell new, used, rare, signed and local author’s works. We also sell art, original and limited prints of local artists.” The bookstore has more than 10,000 books in stock and online from four different independent bookstores at the website “We also have a presence on Amazon at,” Gayle added. “We are hidden in Gueydan, but we have a large reach since we ship around the world.

Library Book Sale
            The Friends of the Lafayette Public Library Spring Book Sale is this week, with the members’ preview sale from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesday and the public sale from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday and Friday and from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Heymann Convention Center Ballroom. Gently used hardcover and paperback books will be sold by the inch and proceeds benefit the library. For information, call 501-9209.

Book events
            Native Irishman Brian O’Nuanain will offer Irish humor, storytelling, folklore, songs and literature from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. today, March 16, at South Regional Library.
            The Lafayette libraries will host a “Divergent” pin craft for teens from March Tuesday, March 18 through Thursday, March 20, 
at the Jefferson Street, North Regional and South Regional
            Riders on the Orphan Train Performance will be from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday, March 18, at the
Opelousas Public Library, 212 E. Grolee St, Opelousas. The Riders will present a 60-minute show through original storytelling, songwriting and video montage performance followed by 30 minutes of audience discussion. For more information, call (337) 948-3693 or visit
            The Center for Louisiana Studies is hosting a screening and roundtable discussion on documentary filmmaking at 3 p.m. Wednesday, March 19, in the Oliver Hall Auditorium, Room 112, on the UL campus in Lafayette. A second screening will be at 6 p.m. at the South Regional Library. The screenings will be of “McCrea 1971: The Story of Louisiana’s Forgotten Rock Festival” and “Louisiana During World War II” with filmmakers Jerry Sanson, Scott Caro and Bill Robison. Both events are free and open to the public.
            Judy Gentry, retired UL-Lafayette History Department faculty member will discuss “General Kirby-Smith's Leadership in the Trans-Mississippi West, 1863” at 4 p.m. Thursday, March 20, in the Gaines Center Hallway, third floor of UL Dupré Library in Lafayette. A Q and A will follow the talk.
            Angela Carll, author of “Where Writers Wrote in New Orleans” will talk about the book and sign copies from noon to 2 p.m. Friday, March 21, at Tulane University Bookstore in New Orleans.
            Ragin’ Cajun Boxing Club coach Deirdre Gogarty, the first Irishwoman to become a world champion, will speak about her book, “My Call to the Ring,” and talk about how she came to Acadiana to live out her dream at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 22 at North Regional Library in Lafayette. A book sale and signing will follow the discussion.
            Kjuntales, Etc. bookstore will feature its second “Meet the Artist” night with Bryant Benoit from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, March 22, at 309 Pere Megret St. in Abbeville. For information on monthly activities, email owners Sheila Hebert Friedland and Mark Friedland at or call (337) 740-0889.

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