Sunday, October 29, 2006

The Louisiana Book Festival, 2006

This was the weekend of the fourth annual Louisiana Book Festival in Baton Rouge, a wonderful weekend full of books and authors, and people who are passionate about books and interested in meeting and listening to authors. The sun was shining out of a clear blue sky, the temperature did a perfect not-too-cool, not-too-warm balancing act, and the food—as at any Louisiana function—was delicious.

Last year’s festival was canceled because of Hurricanes Rita and Katrina, and memories of Katrina were very much in evidence at this year’s festival. A standard question for panelists was “How did Katrina effect your writing?” Chris Rose was there talking about his book, ONE DEAD IN ATTIC, and all anyone wanted to hear about was his near breakdown and depression medication. It’s become something of a joke around here, that half the city is on medication and the other half ought to be. After listening to that session, I realized it’s not a joke; it really is life in post-K New Orleans.

The session I did on historical mysteries, with Laura Joh Rowland, was well attended, and we had a nice turnout at the booksigning afterwards. I was pleased (and, I admit, vaguely surprised) to sign copies of my book for several young men who looked to be about 19 or 20. One of them asked me, “How would you describe your style?” And I went, “Uhhhhh….” I came up with an answer in the car about half way home to New Orleans. I think it was Rousseau who called that “esprit d’escalier:” thinking of the right retort, the clever repartee when you’re on the stairs leaving the party where you’ve just made a tongue-tied idiot out of yourself. Ah, well, NEXT time, I’ll have a brilliant answer already prepared.