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The Reading Life with John McCusker, Shane Lief; Zachary Lazar and Deborah Luster


This week on The Reading Life: Photographer John McCusker and writer Shane Lief talk about their new book, “Jockomo: The Native Roots of Mardi Gras Indians.” We’ll celebrate Words and Music: A Literary Feast in New Orleans with excerpts from my interview with Zachary Lazar (whose "Vengeance" is the One Book One New Orleans selection) and Deborah Luster, which was conducted August 28 as part of the Historic New Orleans Collection’s Art of the City Book Club. The New Orleans Jazz Orchestra will premiere a work inspired by “Vengeance,” Saturday, November 23.

Here’s what’s on tap in the literary life this week:

Here in New Orleans:

  • Alison Roman appears in conversation with Chef Kristen Essig discussing her book, “Nothing Fancy: The Art of Having People Over - A Cookbook,” Monday, November 18, at 6 p.m. at  Hotel Peter and Paul, 2317 Burgundy. This is a ticketed event; tickets available at Garden District Book Shop.
  • Einat Admony discusses her new cookbook “Shuk: From Market to Table,” with Chef Alon Shaya, Tuesday, November 19, at 7 p.m. at the Uptown Jewish Community Center, 5342 St. Charles Ave.
  • Miki Pfeffer discusses and signs “A New Orleans Author in Mark Twain's Court: Letters from Grace King's New England Sojourns,” Tuesday, Nov. 19, at 7 p.m. at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon, Metairie.
  • Beatles expert Bruce Spizer discusses “The Paul McCartney Death Rumor” as well as his books Thursday, Nov. 21, at 7 p.m. at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon, Metairie.
  • The Lakeshore Branch Library, 1000 West Esplanade, Metairie, hosts a National Novel Writing Month event, Tuesday, Nov. 19 from 5-8:30 p.m.
  • Shane Lief and John McCusker discuss and sign “Jockomo: The Native Roots of Mardi Gras Indians, “Wednesday, November 20, at 6 p.m. at Octavia Books.
  • Danielle del Sol, Susan Langenhennig, John Pope and Chris Granger sign “Building on the Past: Saving Historic New Orleans,” Thursday, November 21, at 5 p.m. at Hazelnut, 5525 Magazine St.
  • Every October/November the Women’s National Book Association of New Orleans celebrates National Reading Group Month with a program that is free and open to the public. This year's program is Thursday, November 21 from 6–8pm at Pelican Publishing, a division of Arcadia Publishing, located at Launch Pad, 400 Poydras, Ste. 900. At 6 p.m., book club members will speak briefly about their groups – anyone is invited – and whether they are open to new members. At 6:30 p.m., there will be a panel discussion with Kristen Knox, Sheila Cork, and Susan Larson, who work on the Great Group Reads selections, followed by a social.
  • And coming up this month is Words and Music: A Literary Feast in New Orleans, November 21-24, at the Ace Hotel and other locations around town. The theme this year is “Mapping Change.” More details at One new addition: A Tribute Reading to Ernest Gaines, Sunday, November 24, at 9:15 a.m. at the Ace Hotel. And today’s guest, Zachary Lazar, appears at a special performance of the New Orleans Jazz Orchestra, which will be presenting musical work inspired by his novel, “Vengeance,” Saturday, November 23, at 7:30 at the New Orleans Jazz Market. Tickets at
  • Also coming up this weekend is the 2019 International Conference on world War II at the National World War II Museum. The three-day conference includes a preconference symposium on Eisenhower, then features such well-known speakers as William Hitchcock, discussing, “June 1944: The World in the Balance," Rick and Atkinson and Robert Citino, presenting on the Italian theater; Alex Kershaw discussing his new book, “The First Wave: The D-Day Warriors Who Led the Way to Victory in World War II,” as well as Donald Miller and Conrad Crane discussing “Supremacy in the Skies: Allied Air Domination in Europe.” For information go to
The Reading Life in 2010, Susan Larson was the book editor for The New Orleans Times-Picayune from 1988-2009. She has served on the boards of the Tennessee Williams/New Orleans Literary Festival and the New Orleans Public Library. She is the founder of the New Orleans chapter of the Women's National Book Association, which presents the annual Diana Pinckley Prizes for Crime Fiction.. In 2007, she received the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities lifetime achievement award for her contributions to the literary community. She is also the author of The Booklover's Guide to New Orleans. If you run into her in a local bookstore or library, she'll be happy to suggest something you should read. She thinks New Orleans is the best literary town in the world, and she reads about a book a day.

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