Sunday, January 11, 2015

'Hagridden' innovative tale of historic fiction

            As the Civil War concludes, two women — a mother and her daughter-in-law — living in poverty near the Cameron coastline of Louisiana do anything possible to survive, including murdering soldiers on both sides in order to trade their wares for food. But when an old friend named Buford, a deserter of the Confederacy arrives, a thorn is thrown into the mix. Lust brings the younger woman and Buford together, much to the chagrin of the older woman.
            This unlikely threesome makes up the story of “Hagridden,” featuring the fascinating new voice of Samuel Snoek-Brown. Buford is the best friend of the older woman’s son and when he brings news of the son’s death, he also casts his eyes upon the son’s widow. The younger woman finds solace in Buford’s bed but the older woman will have none of it.
            Meanwhile, a battle-happy Confederate lieutenant is determined to bring Buford to justice, despite the war’s ending. Embracing the lure of the wolf he performs battle with an animalistic bent and chases Buford dressed in wolf clothing.
            Throughout the tale, the older woman insists the rougarou will hunt down those who lust, trying to scare the younger woman into staying.
            “What we do we do to survive and they ain’t no sin in that,” the older woman tells her. “But lust? Whoo girl, you got to look out for that they lust.  Worst sin they is. Sinners what lusted after the flesh in this world, they turn to animals in the next. Crawl around on all fours rutting like dogs and the brimstone burning off they knees, the skin of they palms. Some say the rougarous is lusters coughed up from Hell to walk the earth.”
            The book mirrors war’s effects that turn humans into animals, either on the battlefield and through starvation and want, and showcases what people will do in order to survive.
            “Samuel Snoek-Brown writes the kind of prose I like best — muscular but spare, lovely but harsh,” wrote Tom Franklin, New York Times bestselling author of “Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter.” “This is a novel to read, a writer to watch. Highly, highly recommended.”
            Snoek-Brown grew up in Texas and now lives in Portland, Ore., but visited relatives in southwest Louisiana, according to his bio. This book resulted in his receiving a 2013 Oregon Literary Fellowship.

Haiku as teacher
            Vic Hummert has spent his life as a chaplain, starting with Maryknoll, a Catholic missionary society, and most recently as chaplain of the Lafayette Parish Correctional Center. Throughout his lifetime he has advocated for peace and environmental justice.
            Hummert is also a lover of haiku, a three-line form of poetry that originated in Japan that honors the natural world. It’s the ideal form of expression for a man concerned over the fate of the earth. In that vein, Hummert has published numerous books of haiku, complemented by his political beliefs and photographs.
            His last book was “Earth is Our Teacher,” a softly spoken but powerful voice against fossil fuels, which Hummert believes is adding to global warming. It’s not the most popular stance for a state built on oil and gas, he explained.
            “A good friend recently told me, ‘Vic, you have enemies in this city,’” Hummert related about living in Lafayette. “I responded, ‘The hatred is in their hearts; I do not have one enemy in the world.’”
            Hummert has just published “Our Sacred Ocean,” combining scientific data with anecdotes about how plastics are killing the oceans.
            Hummert’s books are available at Amazon.com. For more information, visit www.vichummert.org.

Book events
            Louisiana author and historian Carola Lillie Hartley has published two books on historic Opelousas, “Opelousas Firsts” and “Opelousas Tales.” Opelousas is the third oldest town in Louisiana and both books feature history and stories. Hartley is a Louisiana native and has worked in community and tourism development. She will be signing books from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. Thursday at the book’s printer, Bodemuller’s, at 123 S. Main St. in downtown Opelousas. For more information, contact Bodemuller’s at 942-5712, 234-5002 or email carolahartley@aol.com or visit the author’s website at www.opelousastales.com.
            Tim Federle will discuss and sign two cocktail books, “Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twists” and “Hickory Daiquiri Dock: Cocktails with a Nursery Rhyme Twist,” at 6 p.m. Saturday at Octavia Books in New Orleans.

What’s at the Library?
            The New Year starts new programming at the Lafayette Public Library. Pick up a copy of “Book Talk” at any library branch or visit LafayettePublicLibrary.org for details.
            Here are two events to whet your appetite.
            Local health enthusiast Elle Veg with offer an introduction to vegetarian cooking, eating and meal planning with “Eat Vegetarian with Elle Veg!” at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday at South Regional Library. Registration required.
            For those looking to read and talk about books, join the organizational meetings at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday for the North Regional Library Organizational Book Club at the North Regional Library.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “ExploringCajun Country: A Historic Guide to Acadiana” and co-author of “Magic’s in the Bag: Creating Spellbinding Gris Gris Bags and Sachets.” Write her at cherecoen@gmail.com.