The power of Ben Hunter’s Traveler: A Healing Album for the City of New Orleans is proven with its first notes, which strike a vivid image in the mind: A man with long hair sits on a porch, strumming and singing in the dark of a powerless, hurricane-evacuated New Orleans, sliding notes through the air to keep spirits within earshot afloat. Hunter’s gentle melodies tug at the heart, as do his lyrics, carefully selected and poignant. His songs (especially “Home” and “Traveler”) stir bittersweet feelings of survival, pain and resurrection – just like the sounds of our city.
Autobiography l With football season in full swing, it seems festive to begin with a book on that very subject: Call Me Coach: A Life in College Football details the life and times of former Louisiana State University Head Coach Paul E. Dietzel. Endearing photos of Coach Dietzel and friends dot the pages, accompanying a chronicle of his life from childhood through his LSU years. He writes, humbly: “I find myself ever grateful for the exciting and wonderful twists and turns my path has taken… My life has truly been better than I deserve!” No wonder the Tigers love him.
Photography l New Orleans Television by Dominic Massa gives a nifty look at an oft-forgotten outlet that’s been influencing New Orleans culture since WDSU switched on in 1948. Photos and images from the era blanket the pages, with information that corresponds to each. The book’s subjects include many early TV personalities who went on to become local legends, such as Nash Roberts, Captain Sam, Merlin “Scoop” Kennedy, “Dr. Morgus” (patients beware: he’s not a licensed M.D.) and even puppet favorites Mr. Bingle and his buddy Pete the Penguin.
Cookbook l You Are Where You Eat: Stories and Recipes from the Neighborhoods of New Orleans by Elsa Hahne celebrates life, as the author says, “built around friends, family and food.”
The book includes stunning photos taken by the author that capture, with exquisite crispness, the jovial character and perseverant spirit of New Orleans’ distinct cultures.
Non-fiction l “Hope for the best, prepare for the worst,” is the thesis of Hurricanes: Causes, Effects, and the Future by Stephen P. Leatherman and Jack Williams, an illustrated book explaining the science and aftermath of New Orleans’ greatest foe. The text is informative and easy to read, and color photos and illustrations help explain complex atmospheric phenomena. There are also interesting facts, such as, “the average hurricane precipitates a trillion gallons of water a day.” Hang in there – Atlantic hurricane season ends November 30.