I’m Coming to See You, Louisiana!

Thanks, Dana, for the photo!The great Ken Wheaton book tour is coming to a state near you!

As long as you live in Louisiana. Because that’s the extent of the book tour. Sorry, everyone else, but that’s the reality of publishing. I do these things on my dime and on my vacation time from work. And if it comes to a choice between spending hundreds upon hundreds of dollars to read to 15 people at the local Books a Million or going on a two-week wedding and honeymoon trip to Bora Bora — well, let’s just say you’re going to really hate my Instagram pics come November.

But I AM coming to Louisiana and I’ll be doing two events.

So bring yourself, bring your friends, bring all your coworkers. If you’re a teacher, this sounds like perfect extra-credit work to me! And also bring your fellow teachers.

513 Octavia St, New Orleans, LA 70115

Octavia_Books_10-09_106I’m super excited to be doing my first ever reading in New Orleans. Yes. My first. (This is the part where New Yorkers are all, “I thought you were from New Orleans. By the way, I love JazzFest.” GOD DAMN IT! FOR THE THOUSANDTH TIME, I’M NOT FROM NEW ORLEANS!)

But yes, I’m looking forward to a day in New Orleans of stuffing my face, getting an old fashioned (or seven), and then hanging out with the gang at Octavia, who have been kind enough to let me into their store — and to humor me on Instagram and Twitter and even may let me defile their blog with a guest post.

So if you’re in New Orleans or Metairie or Kenner or some of them places around there, come on out to Octavia and say hi.

Saturday, Oct. 4, 2 p.m.
2590 Citiplace Ct, Baton Rouge, La. 70808

I know for folks from the part of the state that I’m actually from, getting to New Orleans is a bit of a pain. So here’s your chance. And all yall from Baton Rouge and Lafayette and out in Cajun Country who know me personally? Yall besta be coming to this one. And everybody else too. No excuses.

Even if they make LSU play Auburn at noon or 2:30, yall can come to Baton Rouge, watch that game from one of the bars at Citiplace, then come over to Barnes & Noble and show your face, then go back to the game. I guarantee you, watching me read is going to be a hell of a lot less stressful than whatever Les Miles has in store for you that day. (Hopefully, it’s a night game and then we all win!)

I have a little list of all your names and I’m going to be taking attendance! I might even get a grade book. (Okay, I will not do this.)

If you’re a New Yorker and reading this and feeling left out, I apologize. It’s not my fault Louisiana is the cultural capital of the world. But if you live in New York and have a book club — especially a boozy book club — and you read the book, I can probably come and discuss it with you.


If You’re Only Going to Read One War Book…

Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk is the sort of book that makes another writer despair. How did Ben Fountain pull this off, that talented bastard? I’m practically sick with jealousy — and depressed that the book is over. Which is saying something considering the subject matter.

The books follows Billy Lynn and the fellow members of Bravo squad, back in the states on a “Victory Tour” after Fox News broadcast their battle with Al-Qaeda forces in Iraq. Billy Lynn and his fellow infantrymen or on the second-to-last day of the tour. After visiting family, a number of other swing-state cities and becoming minor pseudo-celebrities, they find themselves in Texas Stadium, slated to be part of the halftime show with Destiny’s Child during the annual Dallas Cowboys Thanksgiving game. All this while a Hollywood producer is trying to get them a movie deal. And they’re being shipped back to Iraq in two days.

There’s obviously a lot of symbolic potential in all of this. And a lesser writer would likely have made a heavy-handed hash of it. THINK THIS! CONSIDER THIS! But Fountain just keeps us tightly within the realm of this 19-year-old soldier with an average past, struggling to make sense of the world he inhabits. That’s not to say Fountain doesn’t get his points across. Setting this inside the throne room of the Dallas Cowboys is a strikingly effective way to say a lot about American priorities. It allows something as simple as a tour of the equipment room to sneak up and smack the reader in the back of the head.

Yes, it’s anti-war, but not the sort of anti-war sentiment that’s based in politics. Rather, it’s based in the tradition of Vonnegut and Heller–it’s anti-war in the sense that sending young men to foreign lands to kill and be killed is a horrible thing.

No matter your politics, it’s a hell of a book.

After-Action Report: Louisiana Book Fest and ULL Reading

After reading a post this morning by Darrelyn Saloom in which she revealed that she’d signed a book deal (CONGRATS!) — a result of time spent at the 2011 Louisiana Book Festival — it occurred to me I hadn’t written a follow-up post to my time down there trying to pimp out The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival (Yes! It’s still for sale!).

2011 Louisiana Book Festival, Baton Rouge

One reason I didn’t write — aside from laziness — is that I didn’t want to ruin the picture I know you all have of me jet-setting around the country, arriving in limousines and reading to packed rooms. C’mon. I know that’s how you picture these things. And the reality was, my reading/panel with Lou Dischler was attended by a total of maybe 10 people — four of which who were related to me, one of which was Lou’s mom, and another of which was my good friend Jason’s mom. Thank god for moms. At first I blamed this on the fact that we’d been scheduled at 3:30 and stuck out in the hinterlands of the Welcome Center when almost all of the foot traffic was in the State Capitol. But I’d gone to an earlier panel in the State Capitol featuring Roy Blunt and James Wilcox and there were perhaps 20 people in that room. And I’d heard that other readings in the Capitol building were as thin as ours.

Continue reading “After-Action Report: Louisiana Book Fest and ULL Reading”

See Ken Read at The Louisiana Book Festival

Do you live in or around Baton Rouge? Yes? What are you doing Saturday, Oct. 29? Not a damn thing, that’s what. Because LSU has a bye-week. So instead of sitting around the house fantasizing about strangling Nick Saban with your bare hands, head on out to the Louisiana Book Festival. I’ll be there! Talking (still) about The First Annual Grand Prairie Rabbit Festival. (I swear to you there are others in the works.)

Specifically, I’ll be joining Lou Dischler, author of the really damn awesome My Only Sunshine, for the following discussion:

Mining Cajun Country for Comedy
2:45 PM – 3:30 PM
Capitol Welcome Center, Glass Room

This will be followed by a book signing from 3:45 to 4:30 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble tent.

Obviously, it’s not just us. My home-boy Luis Alberto Urrea will be there (sadly, reading at the same time as me). And a couple of my literary heroes as well, James Wilcox (for writing straight-up craziness set in Louisiana) and James Ed Bradley (for showing that an Opelousas boy can get books published).

Schedule and other information can be found here.


What are you doing the following weekend? I’ll tell you what you’re doing. You’re going to be freaking out about the LSU-Alabama game, that’s what. But on the off chance you aren’t, there is a Mini Book Festival at ULL — or as it was called when I went there, USL.

There will be readings Friday and Saturday night at 7:30, as well as a panel on publishing on Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.

Guess what’s got two thumbs and is reading on Saturday night! This guy.

Actual conversation:

Me: I’m reading on Saturday night.
Mom: What?
Me: Saturday.
Mom: What time?
Me: 7:30
Mom: Well I’m not going.
Me: Didn’t think so.

(Hey, lay off. The woman’s read the book 18 times, sat through two readings and is driving all the way to Baton Rouge for the Louisiana Book Festival. That’s plenty)

At any rate, all readings will be held in HL Griffin Hall, Room 315.

FRIDAY readers: Chantel Langlinais, Nate Pritts, Rhonda dean Robison, Wynn Yarbrough
SATURDAY panel on publishing: Nate Pritts, Ken Wheaton, Micah Ballard, Sunnylyn Thibodeaux
SATURDAY readers: Rob Carney, Ken Wheaton, April Fallon, Micah Ballard, Sunnylyn Thibodeaux

So come on out. It’ll be great to see you.

Also: Sorry if I’m not showing enough respect to the UL Ragin Cajun football schedule. Geaux Cajuns!