Sunday, March 30, 2014

June tour follows Ignatius J. Reilly's steps

             Ignatius J. Reilly is a persnickety character, a large man in a green hunting cap who’s hounded by his mother to get a job in the Pulitzer Prize-winning book, “A Confederacy of Dunces.” Ignatius has had a disastrous job interview in Baton Rouge, the only time he’s left New Orleans, and relates this awful bus trip to his mother after almost getting arrested in the beginning of the book. Ignatius later finds a job selling Lucky Dogs on the streets of the French Quarter.
            John Kennedy Toole, a native of New Orleans and once a professor of English at USL, wrote “Dunces,” although the book was never published in his lifetime and he committed suicide at age 31. “Dunces” was published posthumously by LSU Press and became an award-winning best seller.
            Cory MacLauchlin, author of “Butterfly in the Typewriter: The Tragic Life of John Kennedy Toole and the Remarkable Story of ‘A Confederacy of Dunces,’” will lead a tour from Baton Rouge to New Orleans on June 7 to retrace the steps of Ignatius. The special bus tour will include a unique showing of the John Kennedy Toole Papers Collection at Tulane, the cottage where Toole lived and a private tour of the Lucky Dog Warehouse on Gravier Street. In addition, participants will enjoy muffulettas at Central Grocery and a bar crawl through some of Toole’s favorite French Quarter watering holes.
            The cost of the round-trip tour from the Baton Rouge Manship Theatre is $100; call (225) 344-0334 or visit
            On Sunday, June 8, there will be a screening of the award-winning documentary on Toole, “The Omega Point” by Joe Sanford, with a presentation by Sanford and an appearance by MacLauchlin. Tickets are $10 and available at the Manship box office or the information listed above.

Louisiana Poets
            In celebration of National Poetry Month, the Louisiana Center for the Book offers its fourth annual Just Listen to Yourself: The Louisiana Poet Laureate Presents Louisiana Poets program. Louisiana Poet Laureate Ava Leavell Haymon will host the event from noon to 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the State Library Seminar Center, 701 N. Fourth St. in Baton Rouge. Several Louisiana poets will read from their works, including Carolyn Hembree, Carlos Colon, Donney Rose, Justin Lamb, Lara Glenum, David Havird, Jay Udall, Mona Lisa Saloy, Darrell Bourque, Kirby Jambon, Dorie LaRue and Lenore Weiss. Registration is not required for this free event and attendees are invited to bring brown bag lunches. For more information, visit

Library Awards
            The 2014 winner of the Louisiana Literary Award, sponsored by the Louisiana Library Association, is “Louisiana Eats! The People, the Food, and Their Stories” by Poppy Tooker and David G. Spielman, published by Pelican Publishing of New Orleans. Two additional book were recognized — “Fear and What Follows: The Violent Education of a Christian Racist” by Tim Parrish, published by the University Press of Mississippi, a memoir of the author’s youth in a working-class neighborhood in north Baton Rouge during the 1970s, and “The Fiddler of Driskill Hill: Poems” by David Middleton, published by LSU Press. The Louisiana Literary Award was presented to Tooker and Spielman at the Book Dinner on March 27 as part of the 2014 Louisiana Library Association Conference held in Lafayette.

Book events
            Sam Irwin will sign “Louisiana Crawfish: A Succulent History of the Cajun Crustacean” at 2 p.m. today at the French Market Fare, sponsored by the Southern Food & Beverage Museum in New Orleans. He’ll also sign copies at 2 p.m. Saturday, April 5, at the museum’s culinary library and archive.
            Alan G. Gauthreaux signs and discusses “Italian Louisiana: History, Heritage & Tradition” at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 2, at the Jefferson Parish Public Library, 4747 West Napoleon Ave. in Metairie. The event is sponsored by the East Bank Italian American Society.

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