07
Oct 15

Around the Press in 80 Books: Glass House

In celebration of LSUP’s 80th anniversary the staff selected 80 of our most memorable titles. Adding to our “Around the Press in 80 Books” blog series, financial operations manager Becky Brown writes about Glass House.

Glass House

In the fall of 1993, I had been working at LSU Press for about four and a half years and was still awed and captivated by the look, feel, and smell of all the new books we published. Back then we had a huge warehouse on River Road and our warehouse staff would bring boxes full to the brim with our new books so the staff could see the end result of their work. I also spent many an hour in that warehouse taking inventory, and some books called to me just because I found them aesthetically appealing.

Glass House: A Novel by Christine Wiltz was one of those books. I loved the artwork on the cover depicting a New Orleans Garden District mansion with the big white columns and stained glass doors. It was, in my opinion, a beautiful book. Then I read the blurbs from great writers James Lee Burke, Valerie Martin, and Vance Bourjaily. Kirkus Reviews gave it high marks, so I was all in. It remains one of my favorite LSU Press novels to date. In 2001 we published it in a paperback edition as part of our “Voices of the South” series, and it remains in print and pertinent. They say you can’t judge a book by its cover, but I believe that, for me at least, the beauty of this book’s cover led me to experience and enjoy the beauty of the story within.

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02
Oct 15

Around the Blog in 80 Books: We Were Merchants

In celebration of LSUP’s 80th anniversary the staff selected 80 of our most memorable titles. Adding to our “Around the Press in 80 Books” blog series, senior designer Michelle Neustrom writes about We Were Merchants.

We Were MerchantsWhat is Goudchaux’s?

A reasonable question to ask if you did not grow up in the Baton Rouge area, but it instantly causes shock and horror to appear on the faces of loyal Goudchaux’s customers. How did I not know about the most amazing, magical department store of all time? About the famous 5-cent Coke machine and how children would receive a nickle for every A on their report card? About the laughing mechanical Santa that appeared every Christmas? And the salespeople who knew customers by name and the piles and piles of fur coats and the interest-free charge accounts! Oh, and that is NOT how you say it. It’s pronounced “Gaw-chaw’s.”

I did not know about this family-owned department store because it closed about 5 years before I moved to Baton Rouge. Even 25 years after its closing, people still remember shopping at Goudchaux’s like it was yesterday, and everyone has a fond memory of the place. This is largely due to the family that owned Goudchaux’s for over 55 years, the Sternbergs. They made customers feel special and would do anything for them, like secretly order a jacket when a size wasn’t available in-store or send a gift when a baby was born. They treated their customers and workers like friends and family.

When it came time to design We Were Merchants, I had a much better understanding of the store. I could see why people loved the Sternbergs and Goudchaux’s, and I wished I could have had the pleasure of shopping there too. After expressing this desire, one of my coworkers brought in a very old Goudchaux’s box and said I could have it. I was so excited! I know, it’s just a box, but it was an artifact of something I had only read and heard about. I scanned it and used the striped Goudchaux’s/Maison Blanche pattern on the end sheets of the book. That box now sits on top of my bookcase in my office and I feel like I have a little piece of Baton Rouge history. I morn the loss of a great Baton Rouge establishment along with everyone else and, yes, I too get that horrified look on my face when someone asks, What’s Goudchaux’s?

Buy this book now for 20% off and get free shipping on all orders over $50; use code 0480FAV at checkout.


30
Sep 15

Around the Press in 80 Books: Poverty Point

In celebration of LSUP’s 80th anniversary the staff selected 80 of our most memorable titles. Adding to our “Around the Press in 80 Books” blog series, designer Barbara Neely Bourgoyne writes about Poverty Point.

Poverty Point

Maybe I’d heard of Poverty Point before. Maybe when I was younger and still in school. I can’t seem to recall. But wow, what an amazing place! Occupied from about 1700 to 1100 BC and once the largest city in North America, it stretches across 345 acres in northeastern Louisiana. The complex array of earthen mounds and ridges overlooking the Mississippi River flood plain are not only impressive for a pre-agricultural society; they are also a great communal engineering feat due to the massive amounts of soil they had to move to create the earthworks.

There is also no rock at Poverty Point. None. The objects found at the location were created from stone and ore that was imported from the Ouachita and Ozark Mountains, the Ohio and Tennessee River valleys, the Appalachian foothills of northern Alabama and Georgia, and other distant places in the eastern United States. Which indicates that this complex society also had a sophisticated trade network.

Recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2014, Poverty Point’s historical significance resonates not only on a regional level, but nationally and internationally as well.

Now the truly interesting thing to me is how this book is a conversation between artist and archaeologist. Jenny Ellerbe was drawn to the beauty of the place and her black-and-white photographs can attest to that. Diana M. Greenlee discusses the most recent archaeological findings and their significance. The way the two work together creates such a unique vision for the reader. Below are a few images from the book so you can see for yourself. But I strongly suggest picking up a copy of your own and then visiting the site. You won’t be disappointed.

Buy this book now for 20% off and get free shipping on all orders over $50; use code 0480FAV at checkout.


28
Sep 15

Around the Press in 80 Books: Louisiana Saturday Night

In celebration of LSUP’s 80th anniversary the staff selected 80 of our most memorable titles. Adding to our “Around the Press in 80 Books” blog series, Copy and Publicity Coordinator Jenny Keegan writes about Louisiana Saturday Night.

Louisiana Saturday Night

If you’re like me, your Saturday nights are spoken for from now until the end of football season (with the exception of our bye week before we crush Alabama at the start of November). But for the non-football fans out there — or those of you who have already started wondering how you’re going to fill the long empty Saturdays of the 2016 offseason — Alex Cook’s wonderful Louisiana Saturday Night is here to help you out.

An exuberant and experienced writer and traveler, Alex Cook is the perfect tour guide for the backwoods bars and dance halls of the state of Louisiana. He captures the atmosphere of each venue with enthusiasm and affection, from the decorations (Christmas lights strung across ceilings, concert posters from the 1970s) to the food (it’s enough to make your mouth water, especially if you’re reading it near lunchtime) to the type of crowd you’re likely to find (Cajun French speakers celebrating their shared heritage, uptight city folks who won’t even dance if there’s an accordion playing).

Louisiana is justly famous for its enthusiastic culture of music and booze, and Louisiana Saturday Night offers a guide to visitors and Louisianians alike who want to party like the locals.

Buy this book now for 20% off and get free shipping on all orders over $50; use code 0480FAV at checkout.


25
Sep 15

Around the Press in 80 Books: Trail of Bones

In celebration of LSUP’s 80th anniversary the staff selected 80 of our most memorable titles. Adding to our “Around the Press in 80 Books” blog series, Assistant Marketing Manager Kate Barton writes about Trail of Bones.

For many years Mary Manhein’s official title was director of the Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services (FACES) Laboratory at LSU, but most people know her as “The Bone Lady.” The name originated from the many phone calls received over the years at the geography and anthropology department at LSU from various law enforcement officials who hadn’t yet learned her name. It is such a simple name for someone who has done so much in her career to help solve cold cases and establish the database for unidentified and missing persons in Louisiana.

Like many others, I enjoy watching crime shows on television, so the behind-the-scenes stories told in Trail of Bones captivated me. Many of Manhein’s stories stem from those phone calls from law enforcement where remains are found and they need help identifying the victims so they can piece together what happened. Through forensic science, she is able to give a voice to the victims. I find the facial reconstruction cases, like the identification of Precious Doe, fascinating. It is remarkable how they are able to use a skull and other basic information about age and race to piece together an accurate facial reconstruction. Although there are many aspects of her work that involve measurable data from science, scans, and DNA, it is the human aspect of each story that makes this book so interesting. Every set of bones of them has a story and loved ones who care. Manhein makes you feel as if you are with her for each case, going through all of the trial and error to figure out the identity of each person. This book offers a revealing look at an intriguing profession.

Buy this book now for 20% off and get free shipping on all orders over $50; use code 0480FAV at checkout.


21
Sep 15

Around the Press in 80 Books: The Louisiana Field Guide

In celebration of LSUP’s 80th anniversary the staff selected 80 of our most memorable titles. Adding to our “Around the Press in 80 Books” blog series, Marketing Manager Erin Rolfs writes about The Louisiana Field Guide.

The Louisiana Field Guide

I think it is still common in elementary schools nationwide to assign U.S. State project reports to students. In my day the task usually required a pristine plastic report cover containing hand-drawn versions of the state flower, the state motto, the state flag, and, if you were lucky enough to get assigned Louisiana, a rendition of the state song, “You Are My Sunshine.” You might also get a chance to mention the state dog, the Catahoula Cur; the seemingly innumerable nicknames (Gumbo State, Bayou State, Pelican State, Sportsman’s Paradise); and take a swing at explaining why Louisiana’s laws are still subject to the Napoleonic Code.

Even this novice effort, when taken on by some ambitious fifth grader with a penchant for spicy food and jazz music, is an arduous task. So when LSU Press agreed to publish The Louisiana Field Guide, hoping to offer a travel book that went beyond the surface level characteristics of the state and smartly delved into Louisiana’s culture and landscape, I was ready to be impressed by the outcome. With Wayne Parent and Ryan Orgera at the helm, the contributors proved up to the challenge. Covering nearly every recognizable facet of Louisiana – food, music, language, arts, film, sports, politics and the stunning but often stressed natural assets—this book accomplished what so many others about the state fail to do: offer an engaging and entertaining read without reducing Louisiana down to a caricature of itself.

In a world guided by analytically driven Google searches and anonymous Wikipedia entries, the chapters in The Louisiana Field Guide include personal and informed perspectives written by people who have experienced the subject matter firsthand or spent a lifetime studying it. In a place where back roads, pirogues, and basic French are required to reach many of the most rewarding experiences Louisiana has to offer, it is invaluable (or at least worth the retail price of $35.00 before tax) to have real experts at your fingertips.

Buy this book now for 20% off and get free shipping on all orders over $50; use code 0480FAV at checkout.


18
Sep 15

Around the Press in 80 Books: I Am One of You Forever

In celebration of LSUP’s 80th anniversary the staff selected 80 of our most memorable titles. Adding to our “Around the Press in 80 Books” blog series, Financial Operations Manager Becky Brown writes about I Am One of You Forever.

I Am One of You Forever

As long as I’ve worked at LSU Press—and that’s over two and a half decades now—one of our most popular books has always been I Am One of You Forever: A Novel by Fred Chappell. After several years of taking orders for it, reprinting it, and seeing it often adopted for university courses, I decided to read it and see what it was all about. I was not disappointed!

The story takes place in the hills of North Carolina in the 1940s and is basically the story of a young boy’s coming of age. I loved Chappell’s lyrical description of the mountain countryside, and I would have expected nothing less since I knew he was a gifted and much lauded poet. He was Poet Laureate of North Carolina for five years, so I knew he had a gift for beautiful language. But it was the characters of the story—the young boy’s family members—that led me to realize that Fred Chappell is also a master storyteller.

It was a great honor to meet Fred Chappell at a book industry trade show in 1999 upon publication of LSU Press’s poetry anthology, The Yellow Shoe Poets, for which Chappell wrote the foreword. It was easy to see why he was a popular professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. One of the greatest perks of working at LSU Press has been the opportunity to meet amazingly talented writers such as Fred Chappell, and to see the widespread effect their works have had over the years.

Buy this book now for 20% off and get free shipping on all orders over $50; use code 0480FAV at checkout.


14
Sep 15

Around the Press in 80 Books: The Flying Change

In celebration of LSUP’s 80th anniversary the staff selected 80 of our most memorable titles. Adding to our “Around the Press in 80 Books” blog series, Digital Initiatives and Database Manager Bobby Keane writes about The Flying Change.

flying change (noun) – a movement in horse riding in which the leading leg at the canter is changed without breaking gait while the horse is in the air

I am 38 years old. Teetering on the edge of middle age. At a point in my life where I have lived long enough to know some things about life but not long enough to know how little knowledge that actually is. Long enough to know that change is life’s only constant but not long enough to completely abandon the possibility of permanence.

Henry Taylor was approaching his middle age when he wrote the poems that are collected in The Flying Change. These poems show that the poet understands that he is soon to have more years behind him than are left in front of him. He acknowledges the inevitability of old age while still clinging tightly to the present.

Sometimes when I cup water in my hands
and watch it slip away and disappear,
I see that age will make my hands a sieve;
but for a moment the shifting world suspends
its flight and leans to the sun once more,
as if to interrupt its mindless plunge
through works and days that will not come again.
I hold myself immobile in bright air,
sustained in time astride the flying change.

I have lived long enough to have made thousands of memories and long enough to have forgotten thousands more. Long enough to have met hundreds of people and long enough to have forgotten their names and faces. I can see the face of my high school Latin teacher but I can’t recall her name, even though I spent three years sitting in her class. I remember the name of my girlfriend in fifth grade and the fact that she had blonde hair, but I wouldn’t recognize her now if we were in the same room. Taylor captures the jarring experiences of being faced with the limitation of memory that comes with getting older and the frustration of almost remembering something or someone.

At times it is like watching a face you have just met,
trying to decide who it reminds you of —
no one, surely, whom you have ever hated or loved,
but yes, somebody, somebody. You watch the face
as it turns and nods, showing you, at certain angles,
a curve of the lips or a lift of the eyebrow
that is exactly right, and still the lost face eludes you.

While I have lived long enough to have experienced many things I can’t fully remember, there are some things I will never forget, no matter how much I wish I could. Taylor’s most powerful poems focus on these types of memories. In “Landscape with Tractor,” the speaker describes coming across a dead body while mowing a large field. He recalls the shock of the finding and then laments the fact that from now on, every time he mows that particular patch of grass he will always see her there. In “One Morning, Shoeing Horses”, the speaker says that he is always nervous while shoeing horses because he remembers a day, 10 years before, working alongside a blacksmith who accidentally got his wedding band caught in a driven nail. His yelp of pain spooked the horse and the blacksmith’s finger was torn off of his hand. In another poem about a catastrophe brought about by spooked horse, “Barbed Wire,” Taylor describes the horrifying scene of a horse flinching while it was trying to eat some grass on the other side of a barbed wire fence.

Not all of the poems in The Flying Change are dark, however. Some are funny and introduce us to colorful characters, such as the man in “Varieties of Religious Experience”:

This old day-worker, cleaning up
the grounds of an abandoned church,
getting ready to paint & put in glass,
said somebody from away from here
had bought it & was going to start
using it again. Well, it had been
a Methodist church, were these Methodists?
He believed it wasn’t anybody like that,
no sir, he said; it is some of these
holy-sanctified God damn people.

The Flying Change is a strong, strong collection of poems and well-deserving of the Pulitzer Prize Henry Taylor won for it in 1985. The praise of another Pulitzer Prize-winning poet, Maxine Kumin, sums it up perfectly:

Like the well-schooled horse changing leads in mid-air, Henry Taylor makes us perceive the grace of that moment of suspension. For him it is a moment of acute recognition of our mortality, our connection to the past, our need to love.

Buy this book now for 20% off and get free shipping on all orders over $50; use code 0480FAV at checkout.


11
Sep 15

Around the Press in 80 Books: Loathing Lincoln

In celebration of LSUP’s 80th anniversary the staff selected 80 of our most memorable titles. Adding to our “Around the Press in 80 Books” blog series, Copy and Publicity Coordinator Jenny Keegan writes about Loathing Lincoln.

Loathing Lincoln

At first blush, you might consider Abraham Lincoln to be among the least controversial of our nation’s presidents, following on George Washington with his wooden teeth and his (mythical) cherry-tree honesty. Abraham Lincoln: He kept the States united! He’s on the penny! He’s on the five! Some Chicago criminals tried to rob his tomb and hold his remains for ransom! (Insane but true. They had to move his remains regularly for the next ten years to stop anyone from trying it again.)

John McKee Barr’s Loathing Lincoln shows us the other side of that shiny copper coin, delving into the centuries of people who have, well, loathed Lincoln. In the early days after the Civil War, the reasons were clear: many Southerners blamed Lincoln for the deprivations they had suffered during the war, and they continued to deeply resent the North’s interference in the affairs of the South, while conveniently eliding their own culpability in the systematic, centuries-long oppression of black Americans.

Criticisms of Lincoln in the following decades came from both the right and the left. Thinkers like Hubert Harrison and W. E. B. Du Bois took Lincoln to task for his half-hearted support of abolition (though both still acknowledged Lincoln as “the greatest President the United States has had up to his time”). As Lincoln’s reputation reached its acme in the interwar period, more and more conservatives (mainly, but not exclusively, from the South) lined up to explain why Lincoln was overrated: “It is the manufactured Lincoln that it
is proposed to palm off on our people as ‘Second only to Jesus Christ,'” wrote an indignant Richmond attorney in 1930.

Loathing Lincoln is a fascinating, panoramic (wait, did I say that on the jacket? Oh well! Still true!) view of who has hated Lincoln in the last two hundred years and why. It’s a terrific read.

Buy this book now for 20% off and get free shipping on all orders over $50; use code 0480FAV at checkout.


09
Sep 15

Around the Press in 80 Books: Game Warden

In celebration of LSUP’s 80th anniversary the staff selected 80 of our most memorable titles. Adding to our “Around the Press in 80 Books” blog series, Associate Financial Operations Manager Leslie Green writes about Game Warden.

Game WardenWhen you grow up in a state whose tourism tagline is “Sportsman’s Paradise” it is not unusual to have a few hunters and fishers in the family. In fact, both of my parents grew up in North Louisiana and Arkansas hunting and fishing and they raised my brothers and me to enjoy those activities. I never really took to the hunting but I love to fish, both in the coastal marshes and in the inland waterways, wading, from a motorboat, or in a canoe or pirogue.

My parents have given LSU Press books as gifts ever since I started working here. Some years it is a little more challenging to find a book for my uncle who lives in his retirement on a ranch in rural Northern Arkansas. But the year this book came out, my father knew he had a winner.

My father’s college roommate, Aubrey Shepherd, is also an avid sportsman and he eventually became an outdoor newspaper man, like Jerald Horst. My dad often made the outdoors column in the Arkansas Gazette when he and Aubrey met up to go fishing or hunting. Guess who also got a copy of this book that year.

Buy your copy of Game Warden this year. Makes a great gift!

Buy this book now for 20% off and get free shipping on all orders over $50; use code 0480FAV at checkout.