CD – North Carolina native Seth Kauffman made his way onto the radar of New Orleans record label Park the Van with his first album, Research, released under his own name, before adopting the pseudonym Floating Action for a self-titled 2009 album. His newest endeavor is Desert Etiquette, a stripped-down collection of warm pseudo-folk songs written, performed, produced and recorded almost entirely by Kauffman in just a few days. Floating Action shares the local label with such indie favorites as Dr. Dog, Generationals and The Peekers. Park the Van released Desert Etiquette on Feb. 22.
Memoir – Songwriter and musician Hoy Kersch grew up in the heart of the Civil Rights movement: 1940s and ’50s Alabama. Her memoir, Suitcase Full of Dreams, details both her struggles growing up with the Ku Klux Klan as well as the joys of her rural childhood. More than a half-century later, these stories of race issues in the South are still pervasive and provide insight into how far we’ve come and also how society still has room to improve. Her tale is ultimately uplifting, a story of hope and possibility in the face of struggle.
Cookbook – Roux Memories: A Cajun-Creole Love Story With Recipes takes two timeless Southern traditions – cooking and storytelling – and marries them in this memoir-cookbook hybrid. Author and food writer Belinda Hulin tells the story of her parents, A.J. and Audrey Hulin, including how they met, fell in love and raised a family in New Orleans. The narrative is padded with family recipes – more than 250 of them – including recipes for Crawfish Gumbo, Shrimp Rémoulade, Cochon de Lait, King Cake and more. The juxtaposition is appropriate; family memories and good food are usually intertwined, especially in New Orleans.
Nonfiction – New Orleans is a city steeped in history and teeming with culture. An invaluable part of that tradition is the preservation and appreciation of its architecture. New Orleans Streets: A Walker’s Guide to Neighborhood Architecture, released in February, provides a detailed pedestrian’s-eye view of the many unique sections of the city, including the Garden District, Tremé, Mid-City, the French Quarter, Bywater, the West Bank and even the Make It Right homes of the 9th Ward.