Read & Spin

CD  Tin Fish Tango is the third album from New Orleans’ experimental jazz group Plunge. It is also their second album sans drums, but bassist James Singleton and visiting sousaphonist Kirk Joseph (of Dirty Dozen Brass Band fame) keep the beat through an eclectic, sometimes spastic record. Mark McGrain, a trombonist and composer, shows off his chops throughout the entire record. Tim Green and New Orleans native Tom Fitzpatrick tag-team the saxophone parts. The eponymous first track jumps merrily through the lower register and the following tracks vary from three-part improvisation to up-tempo riffs to laid-back meditations.

Fiction  Where Shadows Dance is the sixth installment of the Sebastian St. Cyr mysteries. It is the work of local historian, non-fiction author and novelist C.S. Harris. (She also co-authors novels with her husband.) The read itself is staccato and episodic – perfect beach reading, or in-between-adventures-with-the-kids reading, or that-other-room-in-the-house reading. Unlike other contemporary thriller writers, however, Harris has woven a mystery steeped in rich period detail and historical vernacular that so many modern authors lack.

History  Lake Douglas, a New Orleans resident, landscape architect and LSU professor, has given us Public Spaces, Private Gardens: A History of Designed Landscapes in New Orleans. The composition is dense and exhaustive, punctuated with insightful references to New Orleans’ history and the roles public and private parks played (like making room for sewers and streetcars, providing a venue to negotiate the terms of courtly liaisons and so on). Douglas has previously written Public Art Handbook for Louisiana Communities, Gardens of New Orleans: Exquisite Excess and Hillside Gardening.

Diet/Cookbook  Timothy S. Harlan M.D. takes a crack at making dieting goof-proof with Just Tell Me What to Eat! Fed up by explaining to patients the fundamental principals of healthy living, Harlan finally succumbed to their requests to … well, the title speaks for itself. In the process of writing, Harlan jumps between several different identities, kept visibly separate as narrator, doctor and chef. And in between low-fat, low-sugar, high-fiber recipes, he cleverly manages to sneak in background information for which he couldn’t get his patients to sit still.

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