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The Reading Life: Mark Hertsgaard, J.T. Blatty

Susan Larson talks with Mark Hertsgaard about his new book, Big Red's Mercy: The Shooting of Deborah Cotton and Race in America, and J.T. Blatty about Snapshots Sent Home: From Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine―A Memoir.

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

The BLK INK Book Festival returns for its second year Saturday, May 11, from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at the City Park Pavilion of the Two Sisters. There will be 75 participating authors representing a diverse range of genres. Featured guests include Farrah Rochon, Alex Jennings, Mona Lisa Saloy, and Kalamu ya Salaam. Admission is free but please preregister with Eventbrite.

Brooke Bourgeois reads from and signs her children’s book, “Penelope’s Balloons,” Saturday, May 11, at 10 a.m. at Garden District Book Shop and again at 1 p.m. at Octavia Books.

Steve Gleason and co-author Jeff Duncan appear together to discuss “A Life Impossible: Living with ALS: Finding Peace and Wisdom within a Fragile Existence,” Saturday, May 11, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at Garden District Book Shop.

The Poetry Buffet features Poets Raina Zelinski, Andy Young, Beverly Rainbolt, Valentine Pierce, Kay Murphy, Skye Jackson, Gina Ferrara and Nicole Eiden reading poems about mothers and mothering, Saturday, May 11, at 2 p.m. at Latter Library.

JT Blatty discusses and signs “Snapshots Sent Home from Afghanistan, Iraq, Ukraine – A Memoir." You can meet her at the opening of Freedom or Death—Butterflies on Fire, an exhibit at Art Conscious Gallery, 6601 St. Claude Ave., Saturday, May 11, from 6-9 p.m.

Julian Randall appears in conversation with Karisma Price and signs “The Dead Don’t Need Reminding,” Monday, May 13, at 6 p.m. at Baldwin & Co.

Cyril Lagvanec, PhD, the curator of the American-Italian Research Library at the East Bank Regional Library, presents a lecture titled “The History of Ustica” at 7 p.m., Tuesday, May 14, at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon, Metairie.

Mark Hertsgaard appears in conversation with Ramon Vargas, and signs “Big Red’s Mercy: The Shooting of Deborah Cotton and a Story of Race in America,” Wednesday, May 15, at 6 p.m. at Garden District Book Shop.

Tulane professor Robert Lalka discusses and signs his “The Venture Alchemists: How Big Tech Turned Profits into Power,” Thursday, May 16, at 6 p.m. at Garden District Book Shop.

And coming up:

The William Faulkner - William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition has

extended its deadline to June 30, 2024 for all nine categories: novel, non-fiction book, novella, short story, novel-in-progress, essay, poetry collection, individual poem, and short story by ahigh school student. Each entry must be composed of two parts: an electronic portion must consist of a contact sheet for the author, title page, one page (or less) summary, and the manuscript with no author identification in this order. For complete information, visit www.faulknersociety.org. Winners will be announced at the Society's fall festival, September 26-29.

Mark your calendar for the Symphony Book Fair, Friday, May 31-Sunday, June2, at the University of New Orleans Lakefront Arena.

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.