Sunday, July 20, 2014

Author-historians honored for their work

            This past weekend the Foundation for a Historical Louisiana gave out its annual awards to eight preservationists, including authors/historians Carl Brasseaux and the late Sue Eakin.
Carl Brasseaux
            Brasseaux is the a history professor at the University of Louisiana-Lafayette, was director of the Center for Louisiana Studies and is the author of more than 30 books, many on Cajun culture and history. The French government honored him with the title of Chevalier in l’Order des Palmes Académiques, an award reserved for those whose scholarly pursuits are deemed to contribute significantly to French culture.
            Eakin, a scholar, educator, preservationist and storyteller is credited with securing the republication of “Twelve Years a Slave,” the 1853 memoir by Solomon Northup that was made into an Academy Award-winning movie in 2013. She first found the book at age 12, and it was the subject of her master's thesis at LSU. After years of research she published an authenticated version of the book in 1968 and two years before her death published an updated version with maps and photos of the area around Cheneyville where the book was set.
Sue Eakin
            Eakin also earned a master’s degree in journalism at LSU and taught history at LSU-Alexandria. She earned a doctorate from UL-Lafayette at age 60.
            Brasseaux received the Cultural Preservationist Award and Eakin, who died in 2009, received a posthumous Lifetime Achievement Award.
            Other awards went to Vincent Caire Sr. of LaPlace, an historian, author and advocate for the restoration of the Art Deco Shushan Airport, now Lakefront Airport in New Orleans; The Historic New Orleans Foundation and its director, Priscilla Lawrence; and to Nancy Vinci of St. Francisville for her efforts to preserve architectural treasures of “Audubon Country” and the historic district of St. Francisville.

New releases
            On June 24, 1973, an arsonist set fire to a New Orleans gay bar called the Up Stairs Lounge, killing 32 people. The event stands as the deadliest fire in the history of New Orleans and is said to be the largest mass murder of gay men in America. Clayton Delery-Edwards, a graduate of USL, now UL-Lafayette, recalls this tragedy, the news coverage that followed and the lack of outrage from city officials in his book, “The Up Stairs Lounge Arson: Thirty-Two Deaths in a New Orleans Gay Bar, June 24, 1973.” The case was never solved. 
            Tulane professor Thomas Beller has published a biography on author J.D. Salinger (“The Catcher in the Rye”) titled “J.D. Salinger: The Escape Artist.” Publisher’s Weekly calls the book, “an exceptionally well-researched, deeply felt, and thoughtful exploration of the elusive author’s history.”
            The University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press has just published “African American Home Remedies: A Practical Guide with Usage and Application Data” by Eddie L. Boyd and Leslie A. Shimp. The book includes information obtained from two studies conducted in affiliation with the University of Michigan to demonstrate the use of more than 100 home remedies and herbs and their relation to socio-demographic characteristics in the African American community.
            Michael Lewis of New Orleans, author of the bestseller “The Big Short” and “Moneyball,” follows with “Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt.” Flash Boys concerns a small group of Wall Street men “who figure out that the U.S. stock market has been rigged for the benefit of insiders and that, post–financial crisis, the markets have become not more free but less, and more controlled by the big Wall Street banks,” according to the book’s promotion. 
            Joseph Boyden, who divides his time between Northern Ontario and New Orleans, sets his latest novel “The Orenda” in the Canadian wilderness 400 years ago when Native Americans and Europeans first meet. “The Orenda illuminates the shadowy moment of our inception as a country,” the National Post said of the book. “It forces us to bravely consider who we are. ‘The Orenda’ is much more than a timely novel. It is a timeless one; born a classic.”

Summer reading
            Sam Irwin is a freelance writer and the author of “Louisiana Crawfish: A Succulent History of the Cajun Crustacean.” He’s also a reader and he offers a great summer reading list at LANote, Irwin’s blog. To view Irwin’s “Summer Reading List — Heavy Books and Light Reading,” visit www.LANote.org.

Writing events
            Festival of Words is hosting a 12-hour Word Crawl on Sept. 13 throughout downtown Lafayette, to coincide with that month’s Second Saturday ArtWalk. Area writers will seek sponsors for their public readings at venues throughout town during the 12 hours and money raised will be used to support the 2014 Festival of Words literary celebration held annually the first weekend of November. For more information, visit festivalofwords.org or call Clare Martin at (337) 962-5886.
            The Creative Minds Writers 2014 Conference will be from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Aug, 9, at Woodland Park Baptist Church, 1909 J W Davis Drive in Hammond. The keynote speaker is New York Times best-selling author Erica Spindler of New Orleans. Other authors will conduct break-out sessions on a variety of genres. For more information and to register, plus to check out the “Page-Turner Contest,” visit http://www.creativemindswriters.com/
           
Writing contests
            The deadline was the ninth Annual Dixie Kane Memorial Contest, sponsored by the Southern Louisiana Romance Writers of America, has been extended until July 31. The entry fee is $15 and the top prize is a guaranteed read by editors at The Wild Rose Press. For information, visit http://solawriters.org/the-dixie-kane-memorial-contest/
            Heartla, the Baton Rouge chapter of RWA, is also hosting a contest for romance novels of all subgenres. The contest is open to published and unpublished authors ages 18 and up with the deadline to enter Aug 1. Awards include certificates and lapel pins to first three finalists and the winner receives $25. For more information, visit the chapter’s web site at http://www.heartla.com/heartbeat-2014-contest/.
            Writing contests not only support local writing organizations as fund-raisers but they provide chances to be critiqued by qualified judges and sometimes prize money or the opportunity to have work submitted to national publishers.

Book events
            An Evening of Comedy with author Christee Gabour Atwood will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Westside Regional Library in Alexandria. The event is free.