Saints and Sinners 2010, the literary festival that tempts its participants away from the decadence and depravity that is New Orleans with inspiring classes, expressive readings and divinely GLBT inspiration, officially kicked off Thursday night with a book signing.
This effort—New Fiction from the Festival, edited by Amie Evans and Paul J. Willis—is a collection of S&S stalwarts as well as some new voices selected from the conference’s first ever Annual Short Fiction Contest. Held upstairs at the Bourbon Pub, the signing was a great mix of reading, schmoozing and greeting many friends Bill and I only get to see once a year, and it was a perfect way to start the conference weekend.
I haven’t gotten a chance to dive into the book yet, but from the selections I heard last night it looks to be a killer. Uber-bear Jeff Mann read from his entry “Demon Seed,” then we heard from one of the contest finalists, New Orleans-based James Nolan, whose hilarious pick-up-gone-wrong story“ Latins on the Loose” got the crowd laughing so hard they nearly spilled their drinks. Lucy Jane Bledsoe read from her selection, “The End of Jesus” and then contest runner-up James Driggers continued the religious theme with “Jesus is My BFF.” The final reader was contest winner Wayne Lee Gay, whose “Ondine” is a subtle portrait of a girl named Elizabeth and the awakening that steers her away from her religious upbringing towards a freer, more expressive life through piano lessons.
What I always come away from Saints and Sinners with is a renewed, recharged creative vitality – the classes and panels are certainly informative, but it’s the readings that inspire me the most. Listening to these fine writers was a terrific appetizer for the smorgasbord that awaits us this weekend.