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The Reading Life with J. Richard Gruber and Monique Truong


This week on The Reading Life: Susan talks with J. Richard (Rick) Gruber, director emeritus of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and author of "Dusti Bongé: Art and Life: Biloxi, New Orleans, New York." We’ll also hear from novelist Monique Truong, whose new book, based on the life of Lafcadio Hearn, is “The Sweetest Fruits."

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

Here in New Orleans:

  • Adam Chandler discusses and sings “Drive-Thru Dreams: A Journey through the Heart of America’s Fast Food Kingdom,” Sunday, September 8, at 2 p.m. at Octavia Books.
  • Tenney Flynn of GW Fins discusses and signs “The Deep End of Flavor: Recipes and Stories from New Orleans’ Premier Seafood Chef,” Tuesday, September 10, at 6 p.m. at Octavia Books
  • The third quarterly reading of Why There Are Words, curated by Liz Green, features six local writers – Elizabeth Miki Brina, C.W. Cannon, Nicole Eiden, Angela Mitchell, Tom Piazza, Kimberly Ann Southwick, on the theme of Memory, Wednesday, September 11 at 6 p.m. at Octavia Books. Voluntary donation at the door.
  • The Garden District Book Shop Book Club discusses “The Only Story,” by Julian Barnes, Wednesday, September 11, at 6 p.m. at Garden District Book Shop.
  • Historian Carolyn Kolb will lead a six-part series titled “The History of Jefferson Parish,” beginning on Wednesday, Sept. 11 at 7 p.m. at the West Bank Regional Library, 2781 Manhattan Blvd., Harvey. The topic for the first session is “Jefferson Parish – From Prehistoric Times to the Louisiana Purchase and Parish Formation.”
  • W. Caleb McDaniel discusses and signs “Sweet Taste of Liberty: A True Story of Slavery and Restitution in America,” Thursday, September 12, at 6:30 at Octavia Books.
  • S. Derby Gisclair discusses and signs “The Olympic Club of New Orleans: Epicenter of Professional Boxing, 1883 - 1897,” Thursday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. at the East Bank Regional Library, 4747 W. Napoleon, Metairie.
  • William Kent Krueger discusses and signs his novel, “This Tender Land,” Friday, September 13, at 6 p.m. at Garden District Book Shop.
  • The Dickens Society begins its reading of “The Old Curiosity Shop,” with a discussion of chapters 1-10, Saturday, September 14, at 2 p.m. at the Bright Library at Metairie Park Country Day School.

Coming up later this month:

  • The New Orleans Advocate and Garden District Book Shop present Candace Bushnell, whose new book is “Is There Still Sex in the City?,” Tuesday, September 17, at 7 p.m. at the New Orleans Advocate, 840 St. Charles Ave. This is a ticketed event; tickets available at Garden District Book Shop.
  • Blue Cypress Books hosts a sneak peek at coming fiction: Jami Attenberg reads from “All This Could Be Yours,” due out in November, and Katy Simpson Smith reads from “The Everlasting,” coming in March 2020. The reading takes place Thursday, September 19, at 6 p.m. at Blue Cypress Books.
  • Letters Read, curated by Nancy Sharon Collins, presents a reading of the letters of the Baroness Pontalba, Wednesday, September 25, at 5:30 at the State Museum, 701 Chartres.
  • And Happy Birthday, Mr. Faulkner runs September 24 -26 at the Cabildo and the Hotel Peter and Paul. The theme for 2019 is The American Experience in Literature and Life, including a talk by Faulkner biographer Jay Parini. The Big Read author for the event is Tayari Jones, author of “An American Marriage,” who will appear in conversation with Maurice Carlos Ruffin, author of “We Cast a Shadow. “The featured Faulkner title is “The Wild Palms.” For more information and complete schedule 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.