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The Reading Life: Rien Fertel

On this week's BookMark from the Reading Life, Susan Larson talks with Rien Fertel about his new book, ‘Brown Pelican’, a multifaceted history and first-person narrative about an enigmatic bird.

Here’s what’s on tap in the literary life.

Banned Books Week will be observed September 18-24 this year. One Book One New Orleans presents "Silenced in the Classroom: Banning Books in New Orleans Schools, "Monday, September 19, at 6 p.m. at the Funny Library Coffee Shop in the Virgin Hotel. Free, but tickets available at Be sure to check out special events and displays at public libraries and independent bookstores as well. This year, with book banning on the rise, we need to celebrate and strengthen our freedom to read. Remember, reading is one way we develop an inner moral compass, formulate our way of looking at the world, and rise within it.

A big congratulations to Fatima Shaik, whose book “Economy Hall: The Hidden History of a Free Black Brotherhood,” received an American Book Award, which she will accept in ceremonies October 9. In the meantime, Shaik will present the Constitution Day speech, “The Eye of the Beholder: Why New Perspectives on Historical Documents Open Old Wounds,” Saturday, September 17, at 11 a.m. at the John Scott Center at the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities at Turner’s Hall.

The River Ridge Poets group – which has been on hiatus during the pandemic – will begin meeting again meet from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on the second Saturday of each month. The first meeting will take place Saturday, Sept. 17 at 2 p.m. at the River Ridge Library, 8825 Jefferson Highway in River Ridge. Poets will read and discuss their work.

Mike Duncan discusses and signs “Hero of Two Worlds: The Marquis of Lafayette in the Age of Revolution,” Monday, September 19 at 6 p.m. at Garden District Book Shop.

The Friends of the Jefferson Public Library will hold a General Meeting, Wednesday, September 21, at 10 a.m. at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon Avenue, in Metairie. The guest speaker will be Tammany Baumgarten, a Master Gardener with the LSU AgCenter.

Amistad Research Center presents Conversations in Color, featuring “Congo Square Connection: Cross-cultural Research & Educational Outreach,” a discussion with Freddi Williams Evans and Dr. Joyce M. Jackson, Wednesday, September 2l, at 6 p.m. at the George and Joyce Wein Jazz and Heritage Center, 1225 N. Rampart St.

Greg Fischer, a local writer and editor, will discuss his new nonfiction book, “The Mayor of Mardi Gras,” Wednesday, Sept. 21 at 7 p.m. at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon, Metairie.

Julie Hines Mabus discusses and signs “Confessions of a Southern Beauty Queen,” Thursday, September 22, at 6 p.m. at Octavia Books.

Rien Fertel discusses and signs “Brown Pelicans,” Thursday, September 22, at 6 p.m. at Blue Cypress Books.

And mark your calendar now for the Friends of the Jefferson Public Library Big Book Sale Friday through Sunday, October 7-9, at the Pontchartrain Center, Williams Blvd. at the Lake, in

Kenner. Hours are Friday through Saturday (October 7-8) from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday (October 9) from noon to 5 p.m. Free admission and free parking.

And the Louisiana Book Festival has announced the faculty for the 2022 Writing Wordshops to be held Friday, October 28, They are Jericho Brown, Robert Olen Butler, Gerard Collins, and Emily Nemens. By admission, register at Louisiana or call 225.219.9503. Space is limited. The WordShop schedule for October 28 is as follows:

 9 a.m. – Noon

o Writing Through Your Fears, Regardless – Gerald Collins

o After the Draft: Revising, Editing, and Publishing Your Work – Emily Nemens

1 p.m. – 4 p.m.

o Jumpstart Your Engines Poetry Workshop – Jericho Brown

o After Craft: The Process of Writing Fiction – Robert Olen Butler

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.