During the months of January and February, south Louisiana is alive with the spirit of carnival. For those of you who are partaking in the local festivities or just wishing you were, LSU Press has several titles that are sure to get you in the mood for Mardi Gras.
J. Mark Souther’s New Orleans on Parade, featured as one of Foreword Magazine’s annual Big Ten Picks of University Presses (January/February 2007), traces the city’s twentieth-century embrace of tourism as its economic strong horse, marketing its peculiar and extravagant cultural identity while at the same time struggling with racial, social, and political uncertainty. Souther includes a timely analysis of the effects of Hurricane Katrina on tourism, and ways in which New Orleans might reemerge as an even more enthralling tourist destination. His mix of cultural exploration, engaging narrative, and history is not to be missed this season.
If you miss living in or visiting Louisiana, Frank de Caro’s Louisiana Sojourns: Travelers’ Tales and Literary Journeys might be just what you need to help you get through carnival season. This collection compiles the stories of famous and not-so-famous visitors to Louisiana, vividly recounting the state’s rich history, culture, and environment. These captivating and entertaining tales might just be the nudge you need to book next year’s visit.
For something a bit more contemporary, check out Wide Awake in the Pelican State: Stories by Contemporary Louisiana Writers, edited by Ann Brewster Dobie with a foreword by Ernest J. Gaines. The writers contributing to this volume describe Louisiana characters as varied as the colors of beads and doubloons thrown at parades-some living high and others down on their luck-as they fathom the tragic depths and comic heights of love, betrayal, family, change, and life writ large.