WYES Documentary Spotlights New Orleans Authors

NEW ORLEANS — From WYES:

The City of New Orleans has served as a setting for many of the world’s most famous literary works, including “A Streetcar Named Desire,” “Interview with a Vampire” and
“A Confederacy of Dunces.”

Literary New Orleans is an hour-long close-up look at the locally written word over a more than three-century history. The new WYES documentary, produced and hosted by Peggy Scott Laborde, premiered on Thursday, Nov. 30 at 7 p.m. on WYES-TV and stream on wyes.org/live and on the WYES and PBS Apps.

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Rare archival interviews with Anne Rice,Thelma Toole, the mother of John Kennedy Toole, and Tennessee Williams are included. Among the authors and literary experts interviewed are Edwin Blair, Douglas Brinkley, Nancy Dixon, Rien Fertel, Dr. Kenneth Holditch, Walter Isaacson, Susan Larson, T. R. Johnson, Maurice Carlos Ruffin, Dr. Mona Lisa Saloy and Kalamu Ya Salaam.

After an absence of 25 years, novelist Anne Rice reflected on her move back to New Orleans in 1988: “This is the first time I’ve actually been able to write with the sound of the rain falling on the banana trees and the smell of the river breeze coming in the window. And it’s really been wonderful.”

Literary New Orleans includes a special segment on “Les Cenelles,” written in New Orleans in 1845 and considered the first anthology published by African-American writers.

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Also featured during the documentary are 19th century authors Kate Chopin, Lafcadio Hearn and George Washington Cable as well as the vibrant 1920s literary circle based in the French Quarter that included such luminaries as Sherwood Anderson and William Faulkner.

Additional segments include an homage to the avant-garde local publication, “The Outsider,” which included the early works of such Beat Generation poets as Jack Kerouac, Alan Ginsberg and Charles Bukowski. There is also a tribute to noted New Orleans author/playwright Tom Dent.

The program spotlights today’s literary scene, which includes treasured bookshops and the almost 40- year-old Tennessee Williams & New Orleans Literary Festival. More recent literary celebrations covered are the Louisiana Book Festival and the New Orleans Book Festival.

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Lenny Delbert Sr. and Michael Kailer are the video editors for the documentary. Videography by Jonathan Evans, George Matulik and Steven Patriquin. Logo by John Beyer IV.

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