There's a magic, says Susan Larson, when a person reaches for a book in a bookstore. "The answers are there," she says. "It's just a matter of how we go about finding them."
The former Times-Picayune book editor and current host of WWNO-FM's The Reading Life admits that although she's still a discerning critic (she's judged the Pulitzer Prizes twice now), she's more a champion of good books than a basher of bad.
"I am a critic, but I don't give a lot of thought to books I don't like," she says. "Books are so rich, why not showcase the best?"
Larson's own book, The Booklover's Guide to New Orleans, reissued by LSU Press last week, highlights the vibrant literary culture that's alive and well in the city, even in a post-Hurricane Katrina, e-book imbued world. Larson's book is all at once a history and a celebration of our local literary community, with an updated list of happening bookstores and literary events, bookish destinations and dozens of her own favorite local reads. ("I could stand on the street corner and recommend books and be happy," she says with a laugh.)
Former Times-Picayune columnist Lolis Eric Elie was a writer for David Simon's Treme, and he's compiled a cookbook of traditional and contemporary recipes titled Treme: Stories and Recipes from the Heart of New Orleans. Recipes come from local restaurants and celebrity chefs who appeared on the show, including Anthony Bourdain, Eric Ripert and David Chang. Broudain wrote the introduction to the book. The book is written from the perspective of characters on the HBO series.
Before writing for the show, Elie produced other projects focused on food and the Treme neighborhood. He authored Smokestack Lightning: Adventures in the Heart of Barbecue Country, which he wrote while working as a road manager for Wynton Marsalis. He also edited Cornbread Nation 2: The United States of Barbecue. And he wrote and co-produced the documentary Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans.
Elie signs copies of Treme at 6 p.m. Thursday at Octavia Books.
The original manuscript of the great 20th-century New Orleans novel A Confederacy of Dunces may never surface, but a rare manuscript copy with handwritten corrections was purchased earlier this month by UL Lafayette, where author John Kennedy Toole taught school in the late 1950s.
The UL Lafayette Foundation has acquired a rare copy of a manuscript of John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, A Confederacy of Dunces.
The Foundation purchased Lot No. 228 at a Sotheby’s auction in New York earlier this month. The acquisition includes a 290-page copy of Toole’s typed manuscript, with handwritten corrections. It also includes photographs of Toole and his friend, Carey Laird. The writer’s mother, Thelma Toole, had given the manuscript to Laird.
No known original manuscript of A Confederacy of Dunces exists.
The hammer price for the items was $25,000, which Sotheby’s had estimated could go for as much as $50,000.
The university is planning a 2014 event to celebrate Toole and Confederacy.
Last year Gambit published a cover story on Confederacy, Toole, and the Toole biography Butterfly in the Typewriter; read it here.
To mark Father’s Day, and to raise funds for a new culinary library, the Link Restaurant Group and the Southern Food and Beverage Museum will host “Beasts and Books” on June 16 in Central City, near the museum’s future home. Described as a combination indoor picnic/culinary book fair, this first-time event will fill the Ashe Cultural Arts Center (1712 O.C. Haley Blvd.) with food booths from local restaurants and bins of new and used culinary books for sale from a wide range of local stores and organizations.
T. Geronimo Johnson's Hold It 'Til It Hurts has been named among the five finalists for the PEN/Faulkner Award, a prestigious peer-juried prize for writers. It's his first novel and it's partially set in New Orleans. It follows Achilles Conroy as he returns from the war in Afghanistan and tries to recover a normal life and find his younger brother.
Johnson grew up in both New Orleans and Columbia, Md., and is a graduate of Warren Easton High School. Susan Larson interviewed Johnson for Gambit here. Johnson teaches at the University of California at Berkeley.
The other finalists are Amelia Gray for Threats, Laird Hunt for Kind One, Thomas Mallon for Watergate, and Benjamin Alire Saenz for Everything Begins & Ends at the Kentucky Club. The winner will be announced March 19.
The Brooklyn Brewery Mash rolls into town next week with a six-day schedule of events at venues around town mixing cuisine, art, film, music and, of course, beer.
New Orleans is the second stop on an 11-city national tour for the Brooklyn Brewery Mash, which is organized by the New York-based brewery and benefits the nonprofit Slow Food USA. The Mash continues across the country all year, and at each stop event organizers orchestrate collaborations between people in the local food and art scenes and counterparts from Brooklyn traveling with the road show.
"I am really down about the way the President has been attacked," Bush writes in a 2005 letter to journalist and long-time friend Hugh Sidey about the criticism directed at his son for the government's response to Hurricane Katrina. "Over and over again the networks attack him. First for being late in moving. Then for over flying Louisiana on the way back to Washington. Then on the snail like pace of relief."
Bush went on to say "My heart went out to him. Here is a guy who cares deeply. Who wants every possible resource of the Federal Government brought in to bear to help people, yet he is being roundly accused of not giving a damn...the critics do not know what is in 43's heart, how deeply he feels about the hurt, the anguish, the losses affecting so many people, most of them poor."
The senior Bush goes on to compare the criticism of his son with his own experiences being shot down by Japanese forces during his time in the U.S. Navy, and concludes, ""Now I see some of his most nasty critics trying to shoot down my beloved son — shoot him down by mean-spirited attacks. I was a scared kid back then. Now I am just an angry old man hurting for my son."
In other Bush family news, the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum (known as Bush Center) will be unveiled next month at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
DC Comics’ storied superhero supergroup Justice League of America will become Justice League of Louisiana, sort of. On Wednesday, Feb. 20, the publisher will unveil its series of covers picturing League members hoisting every U.S. state flag, including Louisiana's. DC offered Gambit the first glimpse of the issue.
The latest series re-launch, written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by David Finch, begins with the 40-page issue No. 1 — the cover recalls Joe Rosenthal’s iconic image of U.S. troops raising the American flag on Iwo Jima, but with League members Catwoman, The Green Lantern and Green Arrow raising the Louisiana flag. Finch is a former Marvel Comics artist who helmed DC’s Batman: The Dark Knight, which wrapped 15 issues before he began working on the latest Justice League series.
You can find the issue at Crescent City Comics (916 Freret St., 504-891-3796), More Fun Comics (8200 Oak St., 504-865-1800), BSI Comics (3030 Severn Ave., Metairie, 504-885-2550) and Media Underground Comics (4953 W. Napoleon Ave., Metairie, 504-301-2435), among others.
For more comics, read this 2010 Gambit cover story on Louisiana's comic cottage industry.
Today's a good day for cleaning house here in New Orleans, and January is National Organization Month, so what better time than now to talk to clutter-buster extraordinaire Virginia Barkley? The professional organizer's first book, ClutterBusting for Busy Women, was published this month and is a number-one bestseller on Amazon in its category (Home Improvement & Design). Here, Barkley explains why the psychology behind clutter and how to get rid of it, one piece at a time.
(Note: This is an extended version of a section we cut from an early draft of this week's cover story on Southeast Louisiana Hospital.)
I found the choice of a quote from Niccolo Machiavelli's The Prince a little strange given the context. Dr. Frank Opelka, head of the LSU Health Care Services Division, was presenting a plan to cut $152 million from seven LSU hospitals to the LSU Board of Supervisors. This is a setting that, one would think, demands extreme trust and sensitivity.
And yet, he decided to include in his accompanying PowerPoint a quote from The Prince.
Here's Opelka's quote:
"There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things"
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