Sunday, November 15, 2015

Author, journalist Sam Irwin takes on state's uniqueness in 'It Happens in Louisiana'

            Sam Irwin writes regularly about Louisiana culture as a freelance writer — blogging at www.LaNote.org and www.CrawfishReport.com, in addition to print publications — and as author of several books, including “Crawfish: A Succulent History of the Cajun Crustacean.” A native of Acadiana, his latest book looks at the weird and wonderful side of our state in “It Happens in Louisiana: Peculiar Tales, Traditions and Recipes from the Bayou.” Stories are more cultural than strange, more pride-inspiring than freakish, making each one a wonderful yet entertaining read. There’s unique nicknames, the tragic end of Bonnie and Clyde, medieval jousting in Ville Platte, the Easter tradition of egg pocking, Acadiana’s music and much more. The stories are accented by 100 photos from Irwin’s travels around Louisiana plus from established Louisiana photographers like Greg GuirardRon BerardPhilip Gould and David Gallent. National columnist Rheta Grimsley Johnson, author of “Poor Man’s Provence; Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana,” writes the foreword and sprinkled throughout are recipes for everything from Marcelle Bienvenu’s gumbo to Uncle Earl’s Pea Patch Peas.

New releases
            Alys Arden of New Orleans launches her New Orleans-based young adult series, “The Casquette Girls,” at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Boutique du Vampyre, 709 St Ann St. in New Orleans. Set in a storm-ravaged New Orleans, 16-year-old Adele Le Moyne unravels an intricate web of 18th century magic, myths and monsters that links her ancestors to an assemblage of murders. Publishers Weekly wrote of the book, “In this Southern Gothic love letter to the spookier side of New Orleans’s storied past, Arden spins out a moody tale of magic and mystery . . . A thoroughly satisfying page-turner and a strong debut.” For more information, visit www.alysarden.com. To view a trailer of the book, visit www.thecasquettegirls.com.

Cheré Coen is the author of “Forest Hill, Louisiana: A Bloom Town History,” “Haunted Lafayette, Louisiana” and “Exploring Cajun 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.