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Odd Words: This week in literary New Orleans February 28, 2016

Posted by The Typist in Book Stores, book-signing, books, bookstores, Indie Book Shops, literature, Louisiana, New Orleans, novel, Odd Words, Poetry, reading, spoken word, Toulouse Street, Writing.

This week in literary New Orleans:

& Monday at 6 pm Octavia Books hosts journalist Mary R. Arno presents and signs THANKSGIVING, her novel of memory and coming-of-age based on a short story that won the gold medal in the Faulkner Wisdom competition. New Orleans, Summer 1965: Nancy Drew, the Beatles, Hurricane Betsy. For four young people, it is a time for sailing lessons, clandestine cigarettes, facts of life, guilty secrets. Playing girl detectives, Peg and Emmaline hitchhike to the Winn Dixie, where Emmaline hopes to find her runaway sister. Harry, Emmaline’s brother, lurks on the edges of their toxic, disjointed family. As seasons and years go by, each of the four must come to terms with what happened that summer and what they did—or didn’t do. Thanksgiving slowly reveals the adult ugliness festering beneath the summer idylls of childhood.

& At 6 pm Tuesday Garden District Book Shops features Julie Smith (editor), Ace Atkins, Nevada Barr, O’Neil De Noux, and Maurice Ruffin with New Orleans Noir: The Classics. New Orleans’ tremendous literary tradition shines bright in this outstanding collection of stories from some of the best writers in American history. Julie Smith has masterfully curated this volume with stories published as early as 1843 and as recently as 2012. Classic reprints from: James Lee Burke, Armand Lanusse, Grace King, Kate Chopin, O. Henry, Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, Shirley Ann Grau, John William Corrington, Tom Dent, Ellen Gilchrist, Valerie Martin, O’Neil De Noux, John Biguenet, Poppy Z. Brite, Nevada Barr, Ace Atkins, and Maurice Carlos Ruffin. The 18 stories in this irresistible sequel to Smith’s New Orleans Noir run chronologically from Armand Lanusse’s A Marriage of Conscience (1843), about an unusual social custom of the day, to Maurice Carlos Ruffin’s Pie Man (2012), a powerful examination of ethnic tensions in post-Katrina New Orleans. Famous bylines punctuate the book, but even the lesser-known authors hold their own. Former New Orleans police office O’Neil De Noux’s The Man with Moon Hands has particular relevance in view of recent controversial police shootings. Ace Atkins’s Last Fair Deal Gone Down mixes New Orleans’s traditions of music and crime. There’s one outright ghost story, Poppy Z. Brite’s Mussolini and the Axeman’s Jazz, a surrealistic swirl of time travel and assassination. Anyone who knows New Orleans even slightly will relish revisiting the city in story after story. For anyone who has never been to New Orleans, this is a great introduction to its neighborhoods and history.

& Also at 6 pm Tuesday Octavia Books welcomes local activist Emilie Bahr when she introduces her book, URBAN REVOLUTIONS: A Woman’s Guide to Two-Wheeled Transportation. Urban Revolutions is a different kind of cycling book. Author Emilie Bahr draws on her own experience as an everyday cyclist and a transportation planner in New Orleans to demystify urban bicycling in this visually-compelling and fun-to-read field guide. What does it mean for a city to be bike-friendly? What makes bicycling a women’s issue? What does it take to feel safe on a bike? How do you bike to work in the summer and still look professional? What is the most fun you can possibly have on two wheels without having to become an athlete? Bahr answers all these questions and more in her friendly and thoughtful essays and detailed practical tips.

& At 7 pm Tuesday Tulane University presents an evening with Zadie Smith, 2016 Zale-Kimmerling Writer-in-Residence. Smith is the author of six books. Her acclaimed first novel, White Teeth (2000), a vibrant portrait of contemporary multicultural London, told through the stories of three ethnically diverse families, won a number of awards and prizes, including the Guardian First Book Award, the Whitbread First Novel Award, the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best First Book), and two BT Ethnic and Multicultural Media Awards (Best Book/Novel and Best Female Media Newcomer). It was also shortlisted for the Mail on Sunday/John Llewellyn Rhys Prize, the Orange Prize for Fiction and the Author’s Club First Novel Award. The Autograph Man (2002), a story of loss, obsession and the nature of celebrity, won the 2003 Jewish Quarterly Wingate Literary Prize for Fiction. In 2003 and 2013 she was named by Granta magazine as one of 20 ‘Best of Young British Novelists’. On Beautywon the 2006 Orange Prize for Fiction and her most recent novel, NW, was shortlisted for the Royal Society of Literature Ondaatje Prize and the Women’s Prize for Fiction and was named as one of The New York Times ‘10 Best Books of 2012.’ Zadie Smith writes regularly for The New Yorker and the New York Review of Books. She published a collection of essays, Changing My Mind: Occasional Essays(2009) and is working on a book of essays entitled Feel Free. She is currently a tenured professor of Creative Writing at New York University.

& Also at 7 pm Tuesday at the Old Metairie Library The Great Books Foundation meets.

& At 8 pm Tuesday at Bar Redux readers are invited to join the discussion with the beautiful, talented, smart, members of Picolla Tushy Presents The Bluestockings. This month we’ll be talking #GirlBoss by Sophia Amorusa. “Girlboss is a hub of inspiration to share stories about what creating an amazing life really means. Being a Girlboss isn’t about being the boss of other people – it’s about being the boss of your own life.”

& At 5 pm Wednesday The West Bank Book Club meets at the Algiers Regional Library to discuss their selection, which is usually literary fiction. Meetings are open to the public and are hosted by library staff

& Wednesday at 6 pm Garden District Book Shop presents Geneveive Munson Trimble’s Afton Villa:The Birth and Rebirth of a Ninteenth-Century Louisiana Garden. n 1963, fire ravaged the forty-room Victorian Gothic plantation home on the historic estate, bringing to ashes over 170 years of history. Over the next decade, its once-regal serpentine entryway and carefully laid out gardens gradually deteriorated, as vines strangled the rows of azaleas that once welcomed guests. A place of enchantment crumbled toward extinction. Afton Villa documents Trimble’s decades-long restoration project while providing a history of the original owners and paying tribute to the other people who contributed to its rebirth. Focusing on preservation, Trimble reveals how the garden’s original footprint survived as well as how she thoughtfully introduced new flora into the terraced landscape, including the foundation ruins of the house, under the guidance of landscape architect Neil G. Odenwald. With steep learning curves and devastating setbacks, including hurricane destruction, each milestone in the recovery of Afton Villa marked a triumph of collaborative will over adversity.

& At 7 pm Wednesday Reading Between the Wines at Pearl Wine Co. welcomes Eva Vanrell and her book THE BUTTERFLY CREST, heavily influenced by Japanese culture, and the Japan Society will also discuss their new book club! An ancient war. A long-told prophecy. A cursed inheritance. If you were destined to die, how would you choose to live? The Butterfly Crest is the first book in a series that tells the tale of a human girl who sacrifices everything to struggle against the inevitable, choosing to resist even when the outcome is doomed from the start. Join Elena as she suddenly finds herself in the middle of a Greek myth and an ancient war between gods, in a world where the old myths are real and human belief has the power to alter the divine. The Butterfly Crest was a 2014 Readers’ Favorite International Book Award Finalist.

& At BJ’s in the Bywater at 8 pm Wednesday Blood Jet Poetry Series returns for its spring season featuring: Bernard Pearce, a Louisiana native born in the rural community of St. Martin Parish. He attended St. John’s College in Santa Fe, NM and returned to Louisiana to pursue a life immersed in music and art. He has owned and operated several music and arts venues in Lafayette, Louisiana. Bernard has recorded and released two full length recordings with his band One Man Machine and has toured internationally with this group. Bernard has recently published a collection of poems, photos, and visual art entitled “The Deed to My Bones”. Also featured is Jim Trainer whose work has appeared in Raw Paw 6: Alien, The Waggle, Philadelphia Stories, Divergent Magazine, Anthology Philly, A Series of Moments and PoetryInk. The release of September, his second full length collection of poetry, coincides with the founding of Yellow Lark Press. Trainer lives in Austin, Texas where he serves as curator of Going For The Throat, a weekly publication of cynicism, outrage, correspondence and romance. Please visit jimtrainer.net.

& Also 8 pm the provocateurs of Estorotica present “Esoterotica knows Romance (Erotica) isn’t Dead, It’s Mysterious, Exciting, and Often Hilarious!” at the Allways Lounge. Doors at 7, show at 8. “…an evening of sex and romance and sexy romance, because we know Romance isn’t dead, especially when it’s also erotica… it’s mysterious, breath-taking, exciting, sometimes corny and when it comes to our show, often hilarious! ”

& Thursday at 6 pm Maple Street Books also welcomes Emilie Bahr, author of Urban Revolutions.

& At 7 pm Thursday the SciFi, Fantasy and Horror Writer’s Group meets at the East Jefferson Regional Library. The purpose of the group is to encourage local writers to create works of fiction based on science fiction, fantasy and horror themes. Participants submit manuscripts to be critiqued by others in the group. Open to all levels. Free of charge and open to the public. No registration.

Also at 7 pm Thursday the University of New Orleans Creative Writing Workshop will host two visiting readers in the Liberal Arts Building, Room 140.  Mark Yakich is a Professor of English at Loyola University New Orleans, USA, Editor of New Orleans Review, and a poet and novelist. He is the author of several collections of poetry including Unrelated Individuals Forming a Group Waiting to Cross and The Importance of Peeling Potatoes in Ukraine.  Jennifer S. Davis is the author of two collections of short stories, Her Kind of Want, winner of the Iowa Award for Short Fiction, and Our Former Lives in Art, which was selected by Barnes and Noble for the Discover Great New Writers Series

& At Octavia Books Thursday at 6 pm local writer Dr. Anne Boyd Rioux will be reading from and signing CONSTANCE FENIMORE WOOLSON: Portrait of a Lady Novelist and MISS GRIEF AND OTHER STORIES. Constance Fenimore Woolson (1840 1894), who contributed to Henry James’s conception of his heroine Isabelle Archer of The Portrait of a Lady, was one of the most accomplished American writers of the nineteenth century. The best known (and most misunderstood) facts of her life are her relationship with James and her suicide in Venice. Uncovering new sources, Anne Boyd Rioux provides a fuller picture of Woolson’s life, her fight against depression, her sources for her writing, and her capacity for love and joy. In her critically acclaimed fiction, Woolson created compelling and subtle portrayals of Americans from the Great Lakes, Reconstruction-era South, and formerly Spanish Florida. As an expat in Europe, she explored women’s thwarted ambitions while challenging the foremost male writers of her era. Ultimately, Rioux reveals an exceptionally gifted and committed artist who pursued (and received) serious recognition despite the stigma attached to female authors and to ambitious, single women.

& Also at 6 pm Thursday Garden District Book Shop hosts Chris Offutt and My Father the Pornographer. When Andrew Offutt died, his son, Chris, inherited a desk, a rifle, and 1800 pounds of porn. Andrew had been considered the “king of twentieth century smut,” a career that began as a strategy to pay for his son’s orthodontic needs and soon took on a life of its own, peaking during the ‘70s when the commercial popularity of the erotic novel was at its height. With his dutiful wife serving as typist, Andrew wrote from their home in the Kentucky hills, locked away in an office no one dared intrude upon. In this fashion he wrote 400 novels, ranging from pirate porn and ghost porn, to historical porn and time travel porn, to secret agent porn and zombie porn. The more he wrote, the more intense his ambition became, and the more difficult it was for his children to penetrate his world. Over one long summer in his hometown, helping his mother move out of the house, Chris began to examine his deceased father’s possessions and realized he finally had an opportunity to come to grips with the mercurial man he always feared but never understood. Offutt takes us on the journey with him, showing us how only in his father’s absence could he truly make sense of the man and his legacy.

& Friday at 6 pm Octavia Books features Authors Yuri Herrera, SIGNS PRECEDING THE END OF THE WORLD, and Lina Wolff, BRET EASTON ELLIS AND OTHER DOGS. Signs Preceding the End of the World is one of the most arresting novels to be published in Spanish in the last ten years. Yuri Herrera does not simply write about the border between Mexico and the United States and those who cross it. He explores the crossings and translations people make in their minds and language as they move from one country to another, especially when there’s no going back. Traversing this lonely territory is Makina, a young woman who knows only too well how to survive in a violent, macho world. Leaving behind her life in Mexico to search for her brother, she is smuggled into the USA carrying a pair of secret messages one from her mother and one from the Mexican underworld. At a run-down brothel in Caudal, Spain, the prostitutes are collecting stray dogs. Each is named after a famous male writer: Dante, Chaucer, Bret Easton Ellis. When a john is cruel, the dogs are fed rotten meat. To the east, in Barcelona, an unflappable teenage girl is endeavouring to trace the peculiarities of her life back to one woman: Alba Cambo, writer of violent short stories, who left Caudal as a girl and never went back. Mordantly funny, dryly sensual, written with a staggering lightness of touch, Bret Easton Ellis and the Other Dogs by Swedish sensation Lina Wolff is a black and Bolano-esque take on the limitations of love in a dog-eat-dog world.

& Saturday at 11:30 am Maple Street hosts a Book Shop launch party of Z.W. Mohr’s children’s book, Desdemona’s Dreams, Volume 1: To Dream of Dancing. Raised in the small town of Remsy by her mysterious aunts and guardian teddy bear, eleven year old Desdemona has always had a hard time relating to the waking world. The elaborate world of dreams she often travels to starts to take on a very real life, and soon she is battling a mad maestro to keep her dream of dancing from being stolen away. This is the first book in the fully illustrated series, Desdemona’s Dreams. A story not only about the beauty of a child’s imagination, but how dreams shape the very world around us. Always remember, you’re dreams are worth fighting for.

& At 1 pm Saturday Garden District Book Shop presents C. S. Harris’s When Falcons Fall. yleswick-on-Teme, 1813. Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin, has come to this seemingly peaceful Shropshire village to honor a slain friend and on a quest to learn more about his own ancestry. But when the body of a lovely widow is found on the banks of the River Teme, a bottle of laudanum at her side, the village’s inexperienced new magistrate turns to St. Cyr for help. Almost immediately, Sebastian realizes that Emma Chance did not, in truth, take her own life. Less easy to discern is exactly how she died, and why. For as Sebastian and Hero soon discover, Emma was hiding both her true identity and her real reasons for traveling to Ayleswick.Home to the eerie ruins of an ancient monastery, Ayleswick reveals itself to be a dark and dangerous place of secrets that have festered among the villagers for decades—and a violent past that may be connected to Sebastian’s own unsettling origins. And as he faces his most diabolical opponent ever, he is forced to consider what malevolence he’s willing to embrace in order to destroy a killer.

& At 2 pm Saturday the Poetry Buffet pops up at the Alvar Library in the Bywater. Local poet Gina Ferrara presents noted authors George Guida, Kelly Harris, Nancy Harris, and David Rowe for an unforgettable afternoon of powerful poetry in the Bywater.

& Sunday March 6 from 1-5 pm and the following two weekends the Friends of NOPL are bringing their Book Sale to Norman Mayer Library. Hundreds of books for the whole family will be on sale — adult fiction and nonfiction, children’s and teens’, plus CDs, DVDs, and audiobooks. So tell your friends about our Friends, and we’ll see you there!

& Next Sunday at 3 pm at the Maple Leaf New York poet GEORGE GUIDA reads from his work. The Maple Leaf Poetry Series, founded by beloved poet Everett Maddox and curated by poet Nancy Harris, is the longest running poetry reading series in the South.

At 7 pm Team Slam New Orleans (Team SNO) hosts The Women of World Poetry Slam Send Off Show featuring ICON at the Ashe Cultural Arts Center.  $5 admission.


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