Louisiana Book Festival is a state-sponsored free event with something to offer everyone
Posted by Susan Larson, Book editor, The Times-Picayune October 01, 2008 5:00AM
There's nothing like the annual Louisiana Book Festival to make a reader appreciate our abundant literary talent. The festival has it all -- biographers and historians, musicologists and sociologists, chefs and children's favorites, sports writers and food writers, poets and novelists. And it's all free.
Festivities begin at 10 a.m. Saturday on the grounds of the state Capitol, with major literary events taking place in the House and Senate chambers and the meeting rooms, and spilling over into the State Library and the State Museum. There's a book fair tent and a children's tent on the grounds (watch for the children's schedule in Friday's Lagniappe), and, this being a Louisiana festival, fine food vendors as well. It all ends with a Baton Rouge Symphony performance of book-inspired music on the Capitol steps from 6-7:30 p.m.
Some of the writers coming to Baton Rouge are perennial local favorites: Shreveport artist/writer William Joyce receives the 2008 Louisiana Writer Award at 10 a.m. in the Senate Chamber. Rick Bragg discusses his memoir of his father, "The Prince of Frogtown," at noon in the House Chamber; Julia Reed talks about "The House on First Street" and "Ham Biscuits and Hostess Gowns" at 10 a.m. in the House Chamber; Tom Piazza discusses the One Book One New Orleans pick, his "City of Refuge," at 1 p.m. in the House Chamber; Ken Wells discusses "The Good Pirates of the Forgotten Bayous: A Story of Blue Collar Heroism in the Wake of Katrina," at 1:30 p.m. in Senate Committee Room E.
The complete schedule is available at www.louisianabookfestival.org. Here are some of my picks:
10 a.m., One Book, One Festival: Gary Richards discusses "All the King's Men," Robert Penn Warren's Louisiana classic. Richards is one of the best and brightest -- and funniest -- of our local scholars. House Committee Room 1.
10 a.m., The Oxford American: With editor Marc Smirnoff as moderator, contributors Ada Liana Bidiuc, Alex Cook and Sara Roahen discuss "Three Years Later: New Orleans and the Gulf Coast Issue." Senate Committee Room E.
11 a.m., "Call and Response: A Conversation in Verse": Poets Jack Bedell and Darrell Bourque talk about their collaborative effort. Senate Chamber.
Noon, Jeane Leiby: The new editor of The Southern Review, the state's most distinguished literary publication, discusses her short story collection, "Downriver." House Committee Room 4.
Noon, Phyllis Montana LeBlanc: The author -- whom many readers will remember from the Spike Lee film "When the Levees Broke" -- discusses her memoir, "Not Just the Levees Broke: My Story Before and After Hurricane Katrina." Senate Chamber.
12:15 p.m., "The New Encyclopedia of Southern Culture: Law and Politics, Foodways and Literature": Kenneth Holditch, Wayne Parent and Julia Reed, with Charles Reagan Wilson and Ann-Imelda Radice, describe putting together the most recent volumes in the landmark series. Senate Committee Room F.
12:30 p.m., Rheta Grimsley Johnson: Morning Advocate Book Editor Greg Langley interviews the author of "Poor Man's Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana." Who doesn't love a writer who comes to Louisiana and falls in love with the place? House Committee Room 1.
1 p.m., Gilbert King: The author discusses "The Execution of Willie Francis: Race, Murder and the Search for Justice in the American South," about the landmark case that inspired Ernest Gaines' novel "A Lesson Before Dying." Senate Committee Room A.
1:45 p.m., panel: "You Based That Guy in Chapter Four on Me, Right: The Truth About Fiction Versus Non-" is the title of a discussion by Andrei Codrescu, M.A. Harper, Olympia Vernon and James Wilcox. State Museum, Third Floor Gallery.
2 p.m., Lawrence Powell: The Tulane University historian talks about "The New Orleans of George Washington Cable." House Committee Room 2.
2 p.m., "Food Culture: New Orleans and Beyond": Writers Elsa Hahne and Sara Roahen are the featured speakers. Senate Committee Room C.
2:30 p.m., "Blogging Is Writing, Too... Or Is It": Scott Douglas (author of "Quiet Please: Dispatches From a Public Librarian") and Alex Cook tackle the modern-day topic. House Committee Room 1.
3 p.m., John Dufresne: The author reads from and discusses his most recent novel, "Requiem, Mass." House Chamber.
4 p.m., "Reader, I Didn't Marry Him": "The Brontes, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, George Eliot, Mary Shelley: The Rigamarole of Matrimony" is the subtitle of historian Christiana Vella's discussion. House Committee Room 3.
4 p.m., Scott Rabalais: The author talks about "The Fighting Tigers, 1993-2008 -- Into a New Century of LSU Football." Senate Committee Room A.
Book editor Susan Larson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 504.826.3457.