Sunday, April 17, 2016

Joshilyn Jackson hits home with new novel

            Paula Vauss was born Kali Jai to a mother who reveled in Indian storytelling, revolving boyfriends and a transient lifestyle. When young Paula balks at her conditions and inadvertently gets her mother in trouble, it’s the beginning of a tragic path for both of them in “The Opposite of Everything” by Joshilyn Jackson. The book opens with Paula working as a divorce attorney, the perfect job for a woman not capable of commitment and still reeling from abandonment issues. When she receives a mystic message from her mother, her faux stability begins to crumble. The plot thickens when a young man arrives at her doorstep, who looks acutely like Paula’s mother. Suddenly, the guilt of her youthful mistake ratches up several notches for she realizes her actions years before have impacted more than just she and her mother. Like previous Jackson books, the first-person narrative is quirky and humorous but with an underlying layer that reaches into your heart. It’s an enjoyable novel that keep you entertained throughout.

New releases
            This Tuesday, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press will release “Revitalizing Cities: The HRI Vision,” which tells the story of HRI Properties of New Orleans. Emerging during the 1980s, HRI Properties revitalized historic neighborhoods left abandoned and vacant. The book, written by by Pres Kabacoff, Edward Boettner, and Tom Leonhard with James P. Farwell, tells the story of the company’s pioneers, Kabacoff and Boettner. HRI has taken its philosophy of revitalization to other states as well, from Texas to Nebraska, North Carolina to Mississippi. UL-Lafayette Press has also released two short story collections — “Duck Thief and Other Stories” by David Langlinais of Abbeville and “Dead Dog Lying and Other Stories” by Norman German of Lake Charles, a professor at Southeastern.
Dr. Brice C. Jones, a biblical scholar at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, has discovered and translated numerous ancient texts, some of which have generated national media attention. He has published his findings in “New Testament Texts on Greek Amulets from Late Antiquity,” which analyzes 24 papyri of Egyptian origin written in ancient Greek and contain a citation of the New Testament. These range in date from the third to seventh centuries AD. Jones provides the Greek text of each manuscript, a colored image of the artifact itself and an analysis of the text and the artifact, the first book published devoted to analyzing the text-critical value of citations of scripture on ancient Christian amulets. Jones is an ancient historian specializing in papyrology and early Christianity.
            LSU-Shreveport history department chair Gary D. Joiner and journalist John Andrew Prime have authored a look at Shreveport’s hometown heroes, leaders and a few infamous residents in “Legendary Locals of Shreveport.” There’s the famous residents such as Terry Bradshaw, Hank Williams and George Carlin, to name a few; the movers and shakers; authors, artists and musicians; lawbreakers and sinners; and a few unusual names you may be surprised to see, folks like John Thomas Scopes of the famous “Scopes Monkey Trial” in Tennessee.
Along that same line — well, the sinners part — is “Legendary Louisiana Outlaws: The Villains and Heroes of Folk Justice” by Keagan LeJeune, published by LSU Press. The book examines infamous figures such as pirate Jean Lafitte, train-robber Eugene Bunch, bootlegging Dunn brothers of Vinton, suspected murderer Leather Britches Smith and Bonnie and Clyde, who met their death in a shoot-out in northern Louisiana. There’s also the famed Louisiana’s Neutral Strip at the border with Texas, where gangs roamed and pillaged. LeJeune is professor of English at McNeese, past president of the Louisiana Folklore Society and editor of its journal, “Louisiana Folklore Miscellany.” He has collected stories about outlaws and Louisiana folklore for more than 15 years.
LSU Press has also published “Hispanic and Latino New Orleans: Immigration and Identity since the Eighteenth Century” by Andrew Sluyter, Case Watkins, James P. Chaney and Annie M. Gibson. Often overlooked in historical studies of New Orleans, the city’s Hispanic and Latino populations have contributed significantly to its development. The book explores their evolving role in shaping the city’s unique cultural identity but also reveals how their history informs the ongoing national debate about immigration.
            Michael Murphy returns to his “Dat” New Orleans book series (“Fear Dat” and “Eat Dat”) with “Hear Dat New Orleans: A Guide to the Rich Musical Heritage & Lively Current Scene,” this time taking on New Orleans music, just in time for Jazz Fest. Murphy guides readers to the best in New Orleans music with an introductory Q&A by the late great Allen Toussaint.

Book news
“Witness to Change: From Jim Crow to Political Empowerment” by Sybil Haydel Morial is a finalist for the INDIEFAB Books of the Year Award, the IBPA Benjamin Franklin Award and the IPPY Book Award. The author and her book have been spotlighted in Essence magazine and on NPR’s “All Things Considered.”
Morial will discuss “The Black Experience in New Orleans” with autors James B. Borders IV and Brenda Marie Osbey from 2:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. today at the Faulkner House, 624 Pirate’s Alley in New Orleans. Borders is the author of “Marking Time, Making Place: An Essential Chronology of Blacks in New Orleans since 1718” and Osbey the author of the collection of poetry “All Souls: Essential Poems.” RSVPs to faulkhouse@aol.com are required.
M.O. Walsh’s New York Times bestseller, “My Sunshine Away,” set in Baton Rouge, is now in paperback.

Book events
Associate Dean of the LSU College of Art and Design will speak with author Genevieve Munson Trimble at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday at Hill Memorial Library on the LSU campus. Trimble is the author of “Afton Villa: The Birth and Rebirth of a Nineteenth-Century Louisiana Garden.”
The Nancy Drew Convention will be Wednesday through Sunday in New Orleans.