Sunday, May 22, 2016

Harris pens another winner with 'Nightshift'

Towns spring up on crossroads for many reasons — around businesses selling gas or refreshments, to provide rest for weary travelers or even as a place to hang people for all to see, as was the case in the 19th century. In Midnight, no one knows if it was something positive or negative that caused the town to emerge in the middle of Texas but something evil is emerging now and residents need to know its origins — and fast.
It all begins with people committing suicide at the Midnight crossroads in “Nightshift,” a paranormal mystery by Charlaine Harris, author of the Louisiana bestselling Sookie Stackhouse mysteries. Might be a coincidence in any other town, but the tiny hamlet consists of residents who are anything but ordinary. While a phone psychic, a quirky witch and an unusual vampire research what evil lurks beneath, other plot threads involving supernatural beings pop up that keep readers guessing who’s who and what their purpose is until the very end.
“Nightshift” is the third book in Harris’s new Texas series and, as in her other books, the characters become a reader’s friends, making it hard to let go when the story concludes. This time around I became quite attached to Fiji, the dowdy but extremely likeable witch who realizes her powers when the evil presence at the crossroads comes visiting. For not the first time, I wish Harris would write faster.

New releases
            New Orleans native Marlene Trestman has penned a biography of Supreme Court advocate Bessie Margolin who shaped modern American labor policy while creating a place for female lawyers in the nation’s highest courts. “Fair Labor Lawyer: The Remarkable Life of New Deal Attorney and Supreme Court Advocate Bessie Margolin” by LSU Press is part of the publisher’s Southern Biography Series.
            David Plater examines one family’s Mississippi River plantation and the changes that occur in the middle of the 19th century in “The Butlers of Iberville Parish, Louisiana: Dunboyne Plantation to the 1800s,” published by LSU Press. The Butlers moved into their plantation home, Dunboyne, in 1833, near the village of Bayou Goula. The biography looks at experiences at Dunboyne over 40 years, including the evolution of agricultural practices and commerce, the Civil War upheaval, the transition from slave to free labor and the social, political and economic upheavals of Reconstruction.
            Former Baton Rouge Advocate and State-Times reporter and editor Gerald Moses is the editor of “Civil War Treasures from the Attic,” a collection of letters written by Webster W. Moses, his great-grandfather, who served with the Seventh Kansas Cavalry — the Jayhawkers — during the four years of the Civil War. Moses discovered these letters while researching his family’s genealogy. The book, published by Outskirts press, contains an exchange of letters and a journal Webster kept during the war.
Maria Isabel Medina chronicles the 100-year history of Loyola University New Orleans College of Law in an LSU Press book of the same name. The school began as a mission to make the legal profession attainable to Catholics and other working-class people and was the first Louisiana law school to offer a law school clinic, develop a program of legal-skills training and to voluntarily integrate African Americans into the student body. Medina is the Ferris Family Distinguished Professor of Law at Loyola.

5 @ 5
Five writers will read from their work, a mix of poetry and prose, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. tonight at Artmosphere. The “5 @ 5: Writers Read LIVE” consists of Toby Daspit, J. Bruce Fuller, Charles Garrett, Christopher Lowe and Clare L. Martin. The Sunday Roots Jam follows. 
Daspit is associate professor of education and co-director of UL’s National Writing Project of Acadiana. His poems have been published in journals and anthologies and he is the author of the chapbooks “Anatomy of a Ghost and other poems not about you” and “Bar Coasters” and was a featured poet for the 2010 Festival of Words. Fuller’s chapbooks include “The Dissenter’s Ground,” “Notes to a Husband,” “Lancelot,” “28 Blackbirds at the End of the World” and “Flood,” winner of the 2013 Swan Scythe Chapbook Contest. He is currently a 2016-2018 Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University. Garrett is a mixed-martial artist, personal fitness instructor and poet. Lowe is the author of “Those Like Us: Stories,” “You’re the Tower: Essays” and the fiction chapbook “When You’re Down By the River.” He teaches at McNeese where he is a faculty member in the MFA program and the program coordinator for the new low-residency masters in creative writing. Martin is the author of “Eating the Heart First.” She has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Dzanc Books’ Best of the Web for Best New Poets and Sundress Publication’s Best of the Net. She is publisher and editor of MockingHeart Review.

Festival of Words
Etha Simien Amling will discuss a journey to France where she reunited with relatives of a common ancestor, Antoine Simien, and the Baton Rouge National Slam Team will perform original poems at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Chicory’s Coffee & Café in Grand Coteau.
Amling has been activities director at Our Lady of Prompt Succor Nursing Home for the last 35 years and is the vice president of the Imperial St. Landry Genealogical & Historical Society.
The Baton Rouge Slam Team (Eclectic Truth) consists of five spoken word poets: James Blanchard, Raven Cole, Deandre Hill, Toiryan Milligan and Monique Constance. At their annual Grand Coteau performance, Eclectic Truth will hone their spoken word skills in preparation for an August national poetry slam championship tournament in Georgia.
The oral history presentation will be videotaped and placed in the Cajun and Creole Archives at the Center for Louisiana Studies in the “Grand Coteau Voices” collection. This free, community event is suitable for all ages and is sponsored by The Festival of Words Cultural Arts Collective with support from the UL Center for Louisiana Studies. For more information, call Patrice Melnick at (337) 254-9695 or email festivalwords@gmail.com

Juleps in June
Juleps in June, the Pirate’s Alley Faulkner Society’s annual overture to the summer social season and its fundraiser, will begin at 7 p.m. Friday, June 3, at the newly renovated New Orleans Garden District home of 2016’s honorary chairs, Andrea and David Bland. The event will include mint juleps made from William Faulkner’s recipe, open bar, hors d’oevres, light summer supper, music and an auction. All proceeds benefit the literary organization. Reserve by May 30 for recognition in the event’s Party Scroll given to guests at the event. For details, email Faulkhouse@aol.com or visit http://www.wordsandmusic.org.