New Orleans was not alone in creating a “Red Light” district, a designated area of the city where prostitution was allowed and regulated. It can be argued, however, that Storyville, with its birth of a new music form called jazz, was the nation’s most famous. During the time of Storyville, from 1897 to 1917, “blue books” were published, directories of prostitutes and houses of prostitution, a tour guide if you will to the District. Pamela D. Arceneaux, senior librarian and rare books curator at the Historic New Orleans Collection, has been studying these books for years and has published through the Collection an amazing glimpse inside with “Guidebooks to Sin: The Blue Books of Storyville, New Orleans.”
The hardcover art book explains the blue book origins and provides details with photos and text of 15 original Storyville guides plus 10 imitations that were produced decades after the District officially closed. These books showcase not only the madams and prostitutes of Storyville but also advertisements for a host of New Orleans businesses, including liquor, laundry, private detectives and companies such as Central Glass, which created many art glass pieces for the brothels. The publications aimed to promote Storyville as “a glamorous, exciting, risqué New Orleans that men could be a part of by simply visiting these lavish homes,” Arceneaux writes. Although hundreds of these marketing pamphlets were printed during Storyville’s heyday, only a handful remain.
Arceneaux is the recipient of the Lucy B. Foote Award by the Louisiana Library Association for her work in a specialized field. The book includes a foreword by Emily Epstein Landau, author of “Spectacular Wickedness: Sex, Race, and Memory in Storyville, New Orleans.” “Guidebooks to Sin” retails for $50. For more information, visit www.hnoc.org/books.
Dave Robicheaux Festival
New Iberia celebrates literary detective Dave Robicheaux, a popular character created by author James Lee Burke, with a second festival in his name, the official Dave Robicheaux's Hometown Literary Festival: Celebrating Storytellers from Iberia and Beyond. The event will be Friday through Sunday, April 2, in New Iberia's historic district and around Iberia Parish. There will be cooking demonstrations, Dave Robicheaux tours, live entertainment, the “Neon Rain” 5K run and a University of Louisiana at Lafayette Academic Symposium featuring Burke scholar Patricia Gaitely (author of “Robicheaux’s Roots”) and an author/publisher roundtable. Iberia Performing Arts League actors will perform reader’s theater of a Dave Robicheaux novel and award-winning Southern writer Margaret Wrinkle will give a presentation. During the weekend, the Grand Theater will show several free screenings of the film “In the Electric Mist” starring Tommy Lee Jones and on Sunday, Batiste’s Bayou Teche Adventure Boat Tours will launch out of New Iberia City Park. Sunday afternoon will culminate with a free Symphony Sunday in the Park featuring the Acadiana Symphony Orchestra under the live oaks of New Iberia’s City Park. For a complete guide, visit DaveRobicheauxLiteraryFestival.com.
The Acadiana Writing Project hosts a free writing workshop with acclaimed author Margaret Wrinkle from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, April 2, at the Cecil Picard Center on the University of Louisiana at Lafayette campus. Wrinkle is the author of “Wash,” winner of the 2013 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize from NYC’s Center for Fiction and was named one of Wall Street Journal’s 10 Best Novels of 2013, among other awards. For information, visit
Children’s Book Festival
Work is underway for the inaugural West Feliciana Children’s Book Festival on Saturday, May 6, in St. Francisville. The festival is accepting submissions from authors of children’s and young adult books for inclusion in their program. Interested authors should email Missy@conundrumbooks.com and follow the festival’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WFCBF.
The Festival of Words hosts an evening of stories, poetry and an open mic at 7 p.m. Wednesday at Chicory’s Coffee and Café in Grand Coteau. “True Stories” will feature poetry by Michael Rather and oral history from Marie Marcel of Leonville, who has researched families in the area for more than 30 years. Rather’s poems were published by the Concho River Review, Borderlands: A Texas Poetry Review, Yellow Flag Press, Flyways and Reed. His collection “Variations on a Sacred Grove” was recently a finalist in the 2016 Orison Book Prize Competition. He teaches composition, creative writing, and literature at Lamar State College-Orange in Orange Texas. 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. Participants may bring poems, songs or stories for the open mic. This free, community event is suitable for all ages. For more information, call Patrice Melnick at (337) 254-9695 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
National blog “Sick Pilgrim,” an “offbeat, dark yet stubbornly hopeful blog by a group of misfit Catholic writers,” has won the 2017 Wilbur Award for best faith-based blog. Associate Editor Matt Lafleur is a native of Opelousas, an alumnus of both UL-Lafayette and LSU. The award will be given Saturday, the same day Lafleur is participating in rideATAXIA Dallas, a ride for bicycle-riders and recumbent tricycle-riders to raise money for research for his rare genetic disorder. The blog was cofounded by Jessica Mesman Griffith of Louisiana, author of four books, including the Christopher Award winning “Love and Salt: A Spiritual Friendship in Letters” and Jonathan Ryan, an author, columnist and speaker.
Book events - Monday, March 27
Angie Thomas signs “The Hate U Give” at 5 p.m. Monday at Off Square Books in Oxford, Miss. Also at Off Square, award-winning author David Wiesner signs “Fish Girl,” a book for middle grade readers about a young mermaid, at 4 p.m. Wednesday.
Tuesday, March 28
George Graham of Lafayette signs discusses and signs copies of his cookbook, “Acadiana Table,” from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at Iberia Parish Library, 1111 W. St. Peter St. in New Iberia.
The Writers’ Guild of Acadiana meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Barnes & Noble Lafayette. John M. Barry discusses “Rising Tide: The Great Mississippi Flood of 1927 and How It Changed America” on the book’s 20th anniversary at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Octavia Books of New Orleans.
Thursday, March 30
Taylor Brown, author of “The River of King,” will be in conversation with Katy Simpson Smith, author of “Free Men,” at 6 p.m. Thursday at Octavia Books of New Orleans. Smith lives in New Orleans and is the author of “We Have Raised All of You: Motherhood in the South, 1750-1835” and a novel “The Story of Land and Sea.”
Saturday, April 1
Rise up teens! “A Hamilton Social for Teens,” a sing-along of the popular Broadway show for ages 12-18, will be from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Main Lafayette Library.