Report from the Louisiana Book Festival 2018

Readability

Report from the Louisiana Book Festival 2018

[cap­tion id=“attachment_109907” align=“alignleft” width=“256”] Sign­ing copies of Cane River Bohemia at the Louisiana Book Festival.[/caption]

By: Pat Austin

SHREVE­PORT – The fif­teenth annual Louisiana Book Fes­ti­val was held last week­end and your hum­ble cor­re­spon­dent was hon­ored to be a part of it as one of the pre­sen­ters for my book Cane River Bohemia.

You know you have reached the sur­real when you are sign­ing books fif­teen feet away from Donna Brazile who was there sign­ing her new book, Hacks, or rid­ing the ele­va­tor with the leg­endary Ernest Gaines. I was for­tu­nate enough to see Mr. Gaines last year at the Books Along the Teche lit­er­ary fes­ti­val: he is a gra­cious gen­tle­man and gifted writer.

My hus­band and I drove to Baton Rouge Fri­day after­noon in time to make the author’s party at the State Library of Louisiana that evening. I’ll admit that I did think about Stacy McCain when we drove through Livo­nia. (You might ask him about that speed­ing ticket a few years ago!)

The author’s party was fab­u­lous; there was a jazz band and enough superb Louisiana food to feast upon for days: gumbo, boudin balls, crab cakes, shrimp alfredo, bread pud­ding, étouf­fée, it just went on for­ever. I met the most fas­ci­nat­ing peo­ple and added to my “want to read” list in a sig­nif­i­cant way. I even added a children’s book to my list: Poncho’s Res­cue: A Baby Bull and a Big Flood, by Julie Thomas, who was work­ing with the LSU Vet school dur­ing the floods of 2016 and was involved with the team who helped save the very sick lit­tle ani­mal after his res­cue. It’s quite a story!

I also chased down Karen McManus, author of the pop­u­lar YA novel, One of Us is Lying, to tell her how much both I and my stu­dents love her book. She was very gra­cious and didn’t seem to mind my gush­ing fan-​girl approach, thankfully.

Day two began with a lit­tle sight­see­ing around Baton Rouge; we spent a lot of time on the levee watch­ing the tow boats and barges on the Mis­sis­sippi River; we toured the old Louisiana State Capi­tol which is absolutely stun­ning. The stained glass, kalei­do­scope dome is breath­tak­ing. Then we headed over to the Capi­tol grounds for the festival.

The Louisiana Book Fes­ti­val draws about 20,000 peo­ple and is one of the top book fes­ti­vals in the South. This year there were 250 authors either giv­ing talks about their books or par­tic­i­pat­ing in panel dis­cus­sions. There are children’s events and var­i­ous live music per­for­mances as well as food trucks all day long. The book pre­sen­ta­tions take place in the State Capi­tol Build­ing in the var­i­ous House and Sen­ate Com­mit­tee meet­ing rooms in thirty-​minute inter­vals and then the authors are shut­tled over to the sign­ing tent to sign copies of their books.

My pre­sen­ta­tion was one of the last ones of the day and so we had plenty of time to browse the book tents while wait­ing. We picked up My Brother’s Keeper by Chris Black­wood, which is a true-​crime thriller about the 1984 death of Gary Ker­gan from Crow­ley, Louisiana. The case went cold and was finally resolved thirty years later and it’s a wild one. Chris sat next to me as we signed books together and she signed our book! We also bought The Sound of Build­ing Coffins by Louis Maistros, the epit­ome South­ern Gothic novel filled with voodoo, quirky char­ac­ters, and mys­te­ri­ous plot. It’s get­ting good reviews so I can’t wait to just get lost in this one.

Louisiana is home to so many ter­rific and tal­ented authors, I think in part due to the cul­tural diver­sity we have in our state. From the south­ern tip of the state to the far north­east­ern cor­ner, we are a mélange of swamps, rice fields, sugar cane and cot­ton fields. We are refiner­ies and sky­scrap­ers, blue col­lar work­ers and suits. We are the Shreve­port Sym­phony, New Orleans jazz, and Cajun zydeco. We eat boudin, craw­fish, alli­ga­tor, and the infa­mous gumbo. We are fine din­ing with a river view in Baton Rouge, wood­fired piz­zas at the craft beer tap room in Arnaudville, and huge home­made burg­ers in Coushatta. We are mag­no­lia trees, Span­ish moss, aza­leas, and cape jas­mine. We are Span­ish, French, African, Jamaican, Cre­ole, Irish, Eng­lish, His­panic, but uniquely Amer­i­can. It is no won­der that Louisiana writ­ers and authors cre­ate such a won­der­ful and diverse col­lec­tion of mate­r­ial every sin­gle year which is cel­e­brated at the Louisiana Book Festival.

Be sure to put it on your cal­en­dar for next year: you won’t be sorry!

Pat Austin Becker blogs at And So it Goes in Shreve­port and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cam­mie Henry and her Cir­cle at Mel­rose Plan­ta­tion. Fol­low her on Insta­gram @patbecker25.

Signing copies of Cane River Bohemia at the Louisiana Book Festival.

By:  Pat Austin

SHREVEPORT – The fifteenth annual Louisiana Book Festival was held last weekend and your humble correspondent was honored to be a part of it as one of the presenters for my book Cane River Bohemia.

You know you have reached the surreal when you are signing books fifteen feet away from Donna Brazile who was there signing her new book, Hacks, or riding the elevator with the legendary Ernest Gaines.  I was fortunate enough to see Mr. Gaines last year at the Books Along the Teche literary festival: he is a gracious gentleman and gifted writer.

My husband and I drove to Baton Rouge Friday afternoon in time to make the author’s party at the State Library of Louisiana that evening.  I’ll admit that I did think about Stacy McCain when we drove through Livonia. (You might ask him about that speeding ticket a few years ago!)

The author’s party was fabulous; there was a jazz band and enough superb Louisiana food to feast upon for days: gumbo, boudin balls, crab cakes, shrimp alfredo, bread pudding, etouffee, it just went on forever.  I met the most fascinating people and added to my “want to read” list in a significant way.  I even added a children’s book to my list: Poncho’s Rescue: A Baby Bull and a Big Flood, by Julie Thomas, who was working with the LSU Vet school during the floods of 2016 and was involved with the team who helped save the very sick little animal after his rescue.  It’s quite a story!

I also chased down Karen McManus, author of the popular YA novel, One of Us is Lying, to tell her how much both I and my students love her book.  She was very gracious and didn’t seem to mind my gushing fan-girl approach, thankfully.

Day two began with a little sightseeing around Baton Rouge; we spent a lot of time on the levee watching the tow boats and barges on the Mississippi River; we toured the old Louisiana State Capitol which is absolutely stunning.  The stained glass, kaleidoscope dome is breathtaking. Then we headed over to the Capitol grounds for the festival.

The Louisiana Book Festival draws about 20,000 people and is one of the top book festivals in the South.  This year there were 250 authors either giving talks about their books or participating in panel discussions.  There are children’s events and various live music performances as well as food trucks all day long.  The book presentations take place in the State Capitol Building in the various House and Senate Committee meeting rooms in thirty-minute intervals and then the authors are shuttled over to the signing tent to sign copies of their books.

My presentation was one of the last ones of the day and so we had plenty of time to browse the book tents while waiting.  We picked up My Brother’s Keeper by Chris Blackwood, which is a true-crime thriller about the 1984 death of Gary Kergan from Crowley, Louisiana.  The case went cold and was finally resolved thirty years later and it’s a wild one.  Chris sat next to me as we signed books together and she signed our book!  We also bought The Sound of Building Coffins by Louis Maistros, the epitome Southern Gothic novel filled with voodoo, quirky characters, and mysterious plot.  It’s getting good reviews so I can’t wait to just get lost in this one.

Louisiana is home to so many terrific and talented authors, I think in part due to the cultural diversity we have in our state.  From the southern tip of the state to the far northeastern corner, we are a mélange of swamps, rice fields, sugar cane and cotton fields. We are refineries and skyscrapers, blue collar workers and suits. We are the Shreveport Symphony, New Orleans jazz, and Cajun zydeco. We eat boudin, crawfish, alligator, and the infamous gumbo.  We are fine dining with a river view in Baton Rouge, woodfired pizzas at the craft beer tap room in Arnaudville, and huge homemade burgers in Coushatta. We are magnolia trees, Spanish moss, azaleas, and cape jasmine.  We are Spanish, French, African, Jamaican, Creole, Irish, English, Hispanic, but uniquely American.  It is no wonder that Louisiana writers and authors create such a wonderful and diverse collection of material every single year which is celebrated at the Louisiana Book Festival.

Be sure to put it on your calendar for next year: you won’t be sorry!

 

Pat Austin Becker blogs at And So it Goes in Shreveport and is the author of Cane River Bohemia: Cammie Henry and her Circle at Melrose Plantation.  Follow her on Instagram @patbecker25.