Sunday, February 28, 2016

'New Orleans Noir,' 'Afton Villa' releases, plus Stephen Utz offers Rodrigue lecture on Walker Percy


        Edgar Award-winning author Julie Smith curates a collection of reprints by American authors in “New Orleans Noir: The Classics 2,” part of a series of original noir anthologies by Akashic Books. Each volume comprises stories set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the respective city. The New Orleans book includes stories ranging from 1843 to 2012 by authors James Lee Burke, Armand Lanusse, Grace King, Kate Chopin, O. Henry, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Ace Atkins, O’Neil De Noux, John Biguenet, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Nevada Barr and more.
            Publisher’s Weekly calls it “[An] irresistible sequel to Smith’s ‘New Orleans Noir’... Anyone who knows New Orleans even slightly will relish revisiting the city in story after story.”
Smith is the author of two detective series set in New Orleans. A former reporter for the New Orleans Times-Picayune and the San Francisco Chronicle, she lives in the Faubourg Marigny section of New Orleans. Smith, Atkins, Barr, DeNoux and Ruffin discuss and sign the book from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans.

Rodrigue lecture
            Stephen Utz will lecture on the late novelist Walker Percy as this year’s George Rodrigue Lecture at 7 p.m. Wednesday in Oliver Hall on the UL-Lafayette campus. Percy was born in North Carolina but lived most of his life in Covington, writing such classics as “The Moviegoer,” which won the National Book Award in 1962. Utz, who has a doctorate in philosophy from Cambridge University and is on the law faculty of the University of Connecticut, will speak on "The Itch for Omniscience: Walker Percy and The Examined Life.”
“Accepting everyday life, we ignore the paradox of its grip on our identity as human beings,” Utz said. “Everyday things in a sense define us, but our humanity eludes them and often eludes us as well. More surely than any other novelist of his day, Walker Percy took this paradox as his starting point. His modest but persistent seekers question their inheritance, the historical backdrop of Louisiana and the modern South, as well as the pervasive ideology of modern science and our broader cultural heritage.”
The free lecture sponsored by the George Rodrigue Endowment is open to the public.

New releases
            The massive Victorian plantation Afton Villa of St. Francisville was lost to fire in 1963, and when horticulturist Geneveive Munson Trimble visited in 1972 she was dismayed to see both the house and gardens in ruins. She and her husband, Bud, purchased the property and set about restoring the elaborate gardens. Their 40-year renovation is the subject of “Afton Villa: The Birth and Rebirth of a Nineteenth-Century Louisiana Garden” by LSU Press. The book details both the plantation’s history and the restoration of the 35-acre garden, including the alley of live oaks and azaleas, the ravine of daffodils, boxwood parterre and so much more. Trimble oversaw the restoration of the New Orleans Botanical Garden, where she served as president of its Foundation for 25 years. She has receive numerous awards including the Preservation Award from the Foundation for Historical Louisiana. Trimble will sign copies of the book from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans.

At the Lafayette Library
Lafayette Reads Together is exploring the book “Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream” by Joshua Davis. Davis is the author of several books, with “Spare Parts” being adapted into a documentary, “Underwater Dreams,” and then a 2015 movie, “Spare Parts,” starring George Lopez, Carlos Pena, Marisa Tomei and Jamie Lee Curtis. “Underwater Dreams” will be shown at 6 p.m. Thursday at North Regional Library, followed by a talk on the book at 6:45 p.m. For more information and to see a schedule of events and obtain a copy of the book, visit http://lafayettepubliclibrary.org.
Zachary Richard, Louisiana’s first French language Poet Laureate, will join French immersion students, to read selections from “Les Cenelles,” the first African American poetry anthology in the United States. The event begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday at South Regional Library.

LSU Book Bazaar
The Annual LSU Book Bazaar, offering a wide variety of books from children’s books to textbooks and reference books, will be from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday in the 4-H Mini Barn and Nelson Auditorium on the LSU campus. Proceeds help fund special purchases for the LSU Libraries’ collections.

Book events
Carole Boston Weatherford discusses and signs her book, “Freedom in Congo Square,” from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. today at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans.
Mary R. Arno signs her novel “Thanksgiving,” based on a short story that won the gold medal in the Faulkner Wisdom competition, at 6 p.m. Monday at Octavia Books of New Orleans. Arno is an award-winning journalist and a native of New Orleans.
Louisiana activist Emilie Bahr signs “Urban Revolutions: A Woman's Guide to Two-Wheeled Transportation” at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Octavia Books and 6 p.m. Thursday at Maple Street Bookstore of New Orleans. Bahr draws on her own experience as an everyday cyclist and a transportation planner in New Orleans to demystify urban bicycling in this field guide.
UNO professor of English Dr. Anne Boyd Rioux will be reading from and signing “Constance Fenimore Woolson: Portrait of a Lady Novelist” and “Miss Grief and Other Stories” at 6 p.m. Thursday at Octavia Books of New Orleans.
C.S. Harris signs copies of her latest Sebastien St. Cyr mystery, “When Falcons Fall,” from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at Garden District Book Shop in New Orleans.