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Gumbo Ya-Ya: A Collection of Louisiana Folk Tales Paperback – May 31, 1987
2016 Book Awards
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From the Back Cover
Garlic hangs from the rafters. The Loup Garou holds a convention on Bayou Goula. Spiders dwell in haunted houses. Images of St. Rosalia are carried from church to church. King Zulu parades on Mardi Gras day.
The sights and sounds of Louisiana come alive in Gumbo Ya-Ya ("everybody talks at once"). Long considered the finest collection of Louisiana folk tales and customs, this new edition chronicles the stories and legends that have emerged from across the Bayou State.
All aspects of society are detailed in this wonderful album of Louisiana tradition: the old-family Creoles, with their strict codes of honor; the fun-loving Cajuns, with their curious family names and spirited fais do-do; the proud blacks, with their fascinating blend of Christianity and voodoo.
Ghosts also abound in these pages-including the headless horseman of Natchitoches, the whimsical apparition who startled citizens of Monroe, and the haunted woods in the Mackeville area.
Gumbo Ya-Ya is a charming look at the legends and practices of Louisiana. Originally written as part of the WPA's Louisiana Writers' Program, it has endured as a classic of its genre.
About the Author
Lyle Saxon (1891-1946) ranks among Louisiana's most outstanding writers. During the 1920s and 1930s he was the central figure in the regionís literary community, and was widely known as a raconteur and bon vivant. In addition to Father Mississippi, Lafitte the Pirate, and Children of Strangers, he also wrote Fabulous New Orleans, Old Louisiana, The Friends of Joe Gilmore, and was a co-author of Gumbo Ya-Ya, with Edward Dreyer and Robert Tallant. During the Depression, he directed the state WPA Writers Project, which produced the WPA Guide to Louisiana and the WPA Guide to New Orleans.
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Top Customer Reviews
While some in this age of "political correctness" might blanch at the phonetic rendering of the words of African-Americans in some of the stories; it should be remembered that this book attempts to replicate the actual speech patterns of the individuals interviewed. These same renderings are not generic and gives one the feel of actually being there, on a sultry Louisiana night, "rocking on the porch, ice-tea and fan in hand", being regaled by the stories of the "old-timers".
In this delightful book you will find everything from "Cajun colloquialisms" to "The Mysterious Axeman's (sic) Jazz".
Or re-visit the songs of the street criers and capture the feel of a long ago "Dixieland funeral".
Explore the legend of Marie Laveau as well as the story of the saintly "Mother Shannon". Looking for ghost tales? or maybe the words to some old-time "Spirituals"? Then search no more! This book lives and breathes and I promise you, you will not forget it!
This review is dedicated to the late Col. Thomas Frith Bienvenu, at who's knee I learned to love the rich tapestry which is Louisiana!
One of the great things about the WPA Writer's Project was the opportunity it gave writers to capture the life of their time in the first person. This may be the best example I've read. It has an authentic feel to it, owing to the liberal use of direct quotes, and even the sometimes cringe-worthy capture of dialect and attitudes. We learn from first-hand sources about the celebrations, life on the street, gangs, crime, ethnic and racial divides and hierarchies, poverty, pirates, and all the rest. It's not always easy to listen to.
The writers capture what they hear faithfully, relaying what they hear with a raw directness that conveys, for the greatest part, a respect for those they hear it from. The one exception I have to mention is the chapter on "Songs" where I have to imagine a different author (there are three co-authors for the book) takes over, and the voice becomes that of an anthropologist talking about "the Negro", as well as Creole and Cajun life, looking from the outside in, instead of letting the people themselves do the talking. That the chapter stands in such stark contrast to the rest of the book speaks to the authenticity of the remainder, though.
I enjoyed the book immensely, and I learned from it.
It could not be published in it's vintage form today, definitely old school language and not PC but it gives a key hole look of the time
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Got this to find stories of ghost etc. Turns out to be a whole history lesson, religions,culture,ethic, Just a great bookPublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
This is a WPA book on Louisiana and New Orleans. Published in 1945. Be prepared for a mindset/viewpoint from 70 years ago. Fascinating reading.Published 14 months ago by Jay L.
This is about the fifth copy of this book that I've owned. They just seem to keep getting away from me. It's excellent.Published 14 months ago by marmalade7
Kindle version is terrible, book is OK, different than what I thought it would be. I gave up on trying to read it on my kindle and just checked it out from the library instead.Published 15 months ago by Buddha79