Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011

When R. Reese Fuller elected to move from journalism to teaching — the former Independent managing editor parted ways with us in the spring of 2009 after accepting a job teaching English and American history at Episcopal School of Acadiana — Lafayette lost a savvy journalist and gifted storyteller. So it was with great relief that we greeted the publication of his new book, Angola to Zydeco: Louisiana Lives ($25, University Press of Mississippi). Culled from dozens of interviews Fuller conducted over roughly a 10-year period for The Independent and The Times of Acadiana before that, Angola to Zydeco is a rich collection of characters — most of them famous round these parts, some of them not-so. From crime-novel master James Lee Burke to expressionist godfather Elemore Morgan Jr. to zydeco legend Boozoo Chavis, Fuller’s collection oozes virtually every Louisiana cultural oil from its pores. One trait unites the diverse characters in the book: their willingness to be utterly candid and colloquial with the author. If you want to help an outsider understand our idioms, give her this fine book. It’s available at local bookstores and online through purveyors like Amazon. — Walter Pierce

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