Sunday, August 26, 2018

New Orleans in print: two books showcase its diversity

The 47th annual Southern Decadence events will take over the French Quarter over Labor Day Weekend, from Aug. 30 to Sept. 3, 2018. We’re talking four days of LGBT parties, concerts, parades and revelry. The annual festival began in 1972 as a small gathering of friends and has become a major celebration of diversity and fun, attracting more than 200,000 people each year, making it the second most profitable festival in New Orleans behind Mardi Gras.
Howard Philips Smith and Frank Perez outline the festival’s five–decade history in “Southern Decadence in New Orleans,” published by LSU Press. The book includes photographs and film stills, newspaper and magazine articles, profiles of founders and leaders, an examination of the French Quarter’s gay community and much more. Smith is the art director at the University of Southern California Libraries and the author of “Unveiling the Muse: The Lost History of Gay Carnival in New Orleans.” Perez is president of LGBT+ Archives Project of Louisiana.

On a side note, Perez will present "From Exile to Decadence: An LGBT+ History of the French Quarter" at 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018, at the Beauregard-Keyes House in New Orleans. The event starts with a reception at 5:30 pm.

If you’re heading to the Crescent City, be sure to bring along “New Orleans: Life and Death in the Big Easy” by photographer Cheryl Gerber, published by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press. Gerber juxtaposes photographs taken over the course of her career, proving that New Orleans is a city of ironies and contradictions, from food and religion to the tragedies of hurricanes and crime.

Photos include the crownings of the Tomato Fest queen next to the Wild Tchoupitoulas Spy Girl; Buffalo Soldiers on horseback at a funeral next to the NOPD mounted police; before and after photos of the Superdome, the Joy Theatre and the St. Roch Market; and two people wearing the American flag T-shirts, one inside the Common Ground Health Care Center and another protesting the Affordable Care Act at a town hall meeting for former Louisiana Sen. David Vitter.

The book includes a foreword by Lolis Eric Elie, an American writer, journalist, documentary filmmaker and food historian who’s best known for his work as story editor of the HBO drama “Treme.” There’s also a brilliant essay by Chris Rose, former Times-Picayune columnist, whose heartfelt stories after Katrina became the voice of the city. He is the author of "1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina."

To claim New Orleans is like no other city in the world is an understatement. Kudos to those writers who show us just how much.

Louisiana Book News is written by award-winning author Chere Dastugue Coen, who writes Louisiana romances and mysteries under the pen name of Cherie Claire. Her first book in each series is FREE to download as an ebook, including "Emilie," book one of The Cajun Series, "Ticket to Paradise," book one of The Cajun Embassy series and "A Ghost of a Chance," the first Viola Valentine mystery.

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