As tends to happen from time to time, this Thursday, Oct. 16, will bring to New Orleans three excellent book events, but you’ll have to be a time-traveling ninja to get to all of them. So, take your pick:
Tim Duffy, founder of the Music Maker Relief Foundation, will present that organization’s new book, We Are the Music Makers: Preserving the Soul of America’s Music, at 6 p.m. at Maple Street Books (7529 Maple St.). Little Freddie King and Alabama Slim, who are both featured in the book and both of whom receive assistance from the foundation, will also perform right there in the shop. The book is the product of Duffy and his wife’s 20-plus years traveling through the South photographing and recording (and generally nerding out on) “roots” musicians. It is the follow-up to an earlier book, Portraits and Songs from the Roots of America, and, like the first book, is accompanied by a CD of music by the artists it features. The book and the foundation both fall squarely in the white-paternalistic framework of the allegedly benevolent “discoverer” of black music who “shares it with the world,” or whatever (think Alan Lomax, Mississippi Records, etc.), but such is the world we live in. At least the artists, in this case, are getting some money. Duffy will also present the book on Friday, Oct. 17, at Garden District Books (with a performance by Major Handy) and on Saturday, Oct. 18, at the Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival.
Steven Daiber, founder of Red Trillium Press, will present his own work and 10 years’ of collaborations with Cuban book artists at a Happy Hour Salon hosted by SIFT beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the Press Street HQ (3718 St. Claude Ave.). Daiber’s press purports to facilitate “cross-cultural dialog through book arts and printmaking,” and for the past decade he has traveled to Havana (and more recently to Hanoi) to work with book- and printmakers there on projects published by Red Trillium. The press produces some truly beautiful books, including an impressive portfolio of Cuban artists’ work.
Michael A. Ross, a historian and author, will present his new book, The Great New Orleans Kidnapping Case: Race, Law, and Justice in the Reconstruction Era (Oxford University Press), with a reading at 6 p.m. at Octavia Books (513 Octavia St.). In what sounds like one of the wilder stories recently dug up from local archives, Ross follows the twist-filled investigation and trial of two black women accused of kidnapping a white baby during Reconstruction. As reported in the New York Times: “Those twists … include psychic consultations, a shadowy ‘House of Secret Obstetrics’ and the derring-do of a crack Afro-Creole police detective versed in the latest ‘French’ techniques — seemingly the first black detective in the United States to take part in a case that received national attention, Mr. Ross says. The story also offers something else that was all but unheard-of in pre-Civil Rights-era trials involving African-Americans accused of crimes against whites: genuine suspense about the outcome. Alfred L. Brophy, a historian at the University of North Carolina School of Law, said in an interview that at virtually any other moment, such a case would almost certainly have ended in a ‘legalized lynching.'”