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The Reading Life: Walter Isaacson

This week on The Reading Life: Walter Isaacson, whose new book is “The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race.”


The Reading Life calendar
The Saints & Sinners LGBTQ Literary Festival returns for its 18th conference through Sunday, March 14. with literary discussions, writing workshops, readings, and special events, all via Zoom or YouTube. The Writing Workshop Series features Dorothy Allison, Michael Nava, Matthew Clark Davison, and Radclyffe, and Jewelle Gomez.  

Literary panels and discussion topics include a wide array of genres including mystery, romance, young adult, poetry, memoir vs. fiction, and short fiction. The “Literary Luminaries of the Violet Quill”—Andrew Holleran, Felice Picano, and Edmund White – will appear and there will be a discussion of Jewish Lesbian Literature and Activism" with Elana Dykewomon, Judith Katz, Irena Klepfisz, and Michele Karlsberg.

A new addition is a Conversation Series featuring authors interviewing authors.  Scholar & Poet Julie R. Enszer will facilitate a dialogue with literary icon Judy Grahn regarding her new book, Eruptions of Inanna: Justice, Gender and Erotic Power; Journalist Merryn Johns will discuss sex and censorship and the modern gay rights movement with author and political activist Naomi Wolf; Founder of the Son of Baldwin media community, Robert Jones, Jr. discusses his groundbreaking new novel The Prophets with Susan Larson; and Jenn Shapland and Carlos Dews discuss their passion for the work of Carson McCullers. Dews is the founding president of the Carson McCullers Society and Shapland was a 2020 National Book Award finalist for her work My Autobiography of Carson McCullers.

The Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival kicks off Friday, March 19. The Writer’s Retreat March 19-21 will include online writing workshops, author events, and a writing marathon. Delivering a keynote inspirational message to writers is Robert Jones, Jr.. Other authors also participating include C. Morgan Babst, Michael Bourne, Elizabeth Miki Brina, Ethan Brown, Pamela Colloff, Lily King, Leigh Camacho Rourks, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Sunni Patterson, Sharyn Rosenblum, and Katy Simpson Smith. Also included is an agent pitch bootcamp and a session by Kindle Direct Publishing with Goodreads.

The following weekend, March 24-28, you can see such varied writers as Megan Abbott, Augustin J Correro, Randy Fertel, Alison Gaylin, Matthew Griffin, Eliza Griswold, Ladee Hubbard, Robert Jones, Jr., Peggy Scott Laborde, Susan Larson, Laura Lippman, Lauren Markham, John Cameron Mitchell, John Pope, Alice Quinn, Mo Rocca, Brian Sands, Kalamu Ya Salaam, Heather Ann Thompson, M.O. Walsh, Bryan Washington, and many more. 

Special Events
The Festival will open Wednesday, March 24 with an online evening performance of A Vieux Carré Cabaret. Other virtual events include the Tennessee Williams Tribute Reading focused on New Orleans as Muse with Alan Cumming, Brenda Currin, Rodney Hicks, Ann Magnuson, Amy Ryan, Mink Stole, Blair Underwood, and more. Books & Beignets focusing on The Rose Tattoo by Tennessee Williams; an interview with Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright John Patrick Shanley; and Bryan Batt in conversation with Tennessee Williams’ scholar Dr. Kenneth Holditch. UNO Press will present poetry readings filmed on location from the book I Am New Orleans and a new memoir by Kalamu ya Salaam.

Virtual Theater offerings include an original production, The Felt Menagerie—A Williams-Inspired Puppet Comedy from The Tennessee Williams Theatre Co. of New Orleans; Teatro Sin Fronteras / Theater without Borders, showcasing the voices of Latin creatives in New Orleans curated by Jose Torres-Tama; Tennessee Williams one-act plays from The NOLA Project and from Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carre. Other theater-related events include New Orleans, My Muse with Kathy Randels and Stephanie McKee moderated by Monique Verdin; a panel on the New Orleans Black theatre community with Tommye Myrick, Kalamu ya Salaam, Lauren Turner, Kaia Karen Livers, and Nick Slie.

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.