Sunday, April 5, 2015

New releases, book news, events and more!

New releases
            Carolyn Brown has published “Song of My Life: A Biography of Margaret Walker,” a woman described as “the most famous person nobody knows.” She will sign this new book and “A Daring Life: A Biography of Eudora Welty” at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Maple Street Book Shop in New Orleans.
            The 1718 Society’s featured reader for April is Katy Simpson Smith, who will read from her book “The Story of Land and Sea” at 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Columns Hotel in New Orleans. Smith is an adjunct professor at Tulane University and is the author of “We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835.”
            Skip Horack offers the tale of a man nearly defeated by life who is given one last chance at redemption in “The Other Joseph.” Roy Joseph is haunted by the disappearance of his older brother Tommy in the first Gulf War, living in an Airstream trailer in South Louisiana when he isn’t working the oil rigs. Just before his 30th birthday, Joseph is contacted by a teenage girl from California claiming to be his lost brother’s biological daughter. A native of Louisiana, Horack is an assistant professor at Florida State University.
            Randy Fertel, who has taught English at Harvard, Tulane and UNO, has published “A Taste for Chaos: The Art of Improvisation in Literature.” Kirkus Reviews calls the book “a tour de force of reading in the fields of literary theory and history” and “an inquisitive examination of the impulse that yields literary improvisation — which is to say, literature itself.” Fertel is also the author of a New Orleans memoir based on his parents, “The Gorilla Man and the Empress of Steak.”
            Bob Bienvenue of Lafayette, who holds several titles in power lifting and hosts a weekly TV show on mental illness, has published a memoir titled “From Light to Darkness to Glory.” Bienvenue recounts how a traumatic experience triggered schizophrenia when he was a young man and his journey to come to grips with the disease through powerlifting and his Christian faith.

At the library

            I’ll be speaking at the Ouachita Parish Library this Thursday, April 9, discussing writing, the books I have written and the path to publishing. I’ll be at the West Ouachita Branch Library at 10 a.m. and at the J.R. Searcy Branch Library at 2 p.m. Please come by and say hello. Other events happening at the library this week include a live guitar performance at 2 p.m. Monday at the Anna Meyer Branch Library and Jamie Mayes presenting “Poetic Reflections: A Celebration of Jazz and Culture” at 6 p.m. Monday at the Louise Williams Branch Library. There will be a screening of “Dead Poets’ Society” at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Main Branch and “Essential Oils: Healing Oils of the Bible” by Kristi Steelman at 2 p.m. Thursday at the Ouachita Valley Branch Library.
            Zachary Richard will speak about his book, “The History of the Acadians of Louisiana” at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, April 9, at the South Regional Library as part of the Bayou State Book Talks presented by the Center for Louisiana Studies.
            Warren and Mary Perrin, editors of “Acadie Then and Now: A People’s History,” will speak at noon Friday, April 10, at the LSU-Eunice Arnold LeDoux Library. For more information, call 233-5832, or email

Book events
            Justin A Nystrom signs “New Orleans After the Civil War: Race, Politics, and a New Birth of Freedom” at 6 p.m. Thursday at Octavia Books in New Orleans. Nystrom is an assistant professor of history at Loyola University New Orleans and the co-director of the Center for the Study of New Orleans.
            The 12th annual Jambalaya Writers’ Conference will be Saturday at the Terrebonne Parish Library in Houma and will feature New York Times best-selling author Wally Lamb as the keynote speaker. Lamb is the author of “The Hour I First Believed,” “I Know This Much is True” and “She’s Come Undone.” He was twice selected for Oprah’s Book Club and his latest book is “We Are Water.” For more information, visit
            David and Ashley Havird will sign copies of their collection of poetry, “Sleeping With Animals,” at 11 a.m. Saturday at Agora Borealis in Shreveport. Other titles available for signing will be “Map Home,” “Penelope’s Design” and “The Garden of the Fugitives.”

Louisiana Book News is written by Cheré Coen, 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