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Lyle Saxon (1891-1946) is renowned as one of Louisiana’s foremost authors.
He was the central figure in the state’s literary community during the 1920s
and 1930s and was well known as a raconteur and bon vivant. He divided his time
between his house in New Orleans and a cottage on the Melrose Plantation near
Natchitoches. During the 1930s he headed the Louisiana WPA Writers Project,
which produced the WPA Guide to Louisiana and the WPA Guide to New
Orleans. According to Chance Harvey, in The Life and Selected Letters
of Lyle Saxon (available from Pelican), Saxon was also the local patron
to fledgling artists who flocked to him with great devotion.
The Friends of Joe Gilmore (pb F) is the story of Lyle Saxon’s
friend and servant, Joe Gilmore, who was the most trusted and reliable person in
his life. Joe Gilmore left an indelible impression on Saxon, and this was, in
fact, Saxon’s last act, even to the point of dictating the stories within.
Each of Saxon’s works is a look into the lives of real people through
personalized narratives. His books chronicle the lives of individuals and
legends that emerged from the bayou country. In Old Louisiana (pb) he takes us through Louisiana’s history, beginning with the accounts of
early settlers. Father Mississippi (pb F), his first book,
documents through first-hand accounts the catastrophic flood of 1927. The novel Children
of Strangers (pb) is a look at the Cane River blacks, some of
whom were also slave owners. Lafitte the Pirate (pb) is the
story of a pirate-turned-patriot at the Battle of New Orleans. Experience Mardi
Gras through the eyes of a boy in Fabulous New Orleans (pb)
and enjoy the finest collection of Louisiana folk tales and customs in Gumbo
Ya-Ya (pb). Lyle Saxon held a deep affection for Louisiana, as
clearly evidenced by his prolific writings.
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