“Tiger Fiction Ladies” by Ted McGehee
City Social: The Area’s Premier Social Magazine, August 2010
Since they had been teaching a course about LSU fiction writers for years, two English instructors—one retired and the other just hitting her stride—decided it was high time to publish a book featuring those writers.
Judy Kahn and Nolde Alexius’ Best of LSU Fiction is a terrifically readable anthology that features twenty LSU authors and spans a century.
Kahn, who joined the faculty in 1970, taught a course that focused on LSU writers; Alexius, the daughter of an Alexandria childhood friend of Kahn’s, currently teaches classes that examine the fiction legacy started by Robert Penn Warren.
That Southern legacy, carried on by Peter Taylor, Jean Stafford, Walker Percy, Charles East, David Madden, James Gordon Bennett, Rebecca Wells, John Ed Bradley, Andrei Codrescu and others, is the reason they assembled this collection.
Warren, arguably LSU’s most famous fiction writer, is best known for his Pulitzer-winning novel All the King’s Men.
The book, published by The Southern Review starts off with Warren’s “Blackberry Winter,” a tale set in flood-ravaged Tennessee farm country in 1910 as seen through the eyes of a nine-year-old boy.
Percy’s short story about college dating games in Manhattan over fifty years ago is clever and captivating, as is East’s piece detailing the discombobulated private life of a New Orleans sky watch pilot.
For Kahn, who hung up her red pen a few years ago, it was a mixture of research and first-hand experience. “I knew these writers. I worked with them,” she said. Currently she is working on book of poetry in partnership with New Orleans photographer/architect Errol Barron.
Alexius, single and a member of the English department for 11 years, says she is “writing a play based on a short story she wrote about a journalist and a musician talking about if they will stay or leave New Orleans during post-Katrina.”
The book jacket displays the art deco murals on the downstairs walls of Allen Hall, long-time home of the English department and creative writing program, which ranks No. 50 in the nation, according to the magazine Poets & Writers.