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The Coffee Shop Chronicles of New Orleans: Part 1

The agnostic, ten-years-sober son of a Baptist minister, B. Sammy Singleton has an opinion about everything. A transplant from New York City by way of Paducah, Kentucky, and New Haven, Connecticut, he also has a guidebook to New Orleans coffee shops to write. But when his best friend, Catfish—reluctant heir to the Beaucoeur sugarcane fortune and a one-time antiques dealer—is arrested for grave robbing and then goes missing, events spin out of control.

Narrated by Sammy in the days before a hurricane changes the city forever, The Coffee Shop Chronicles of New Orleans: Part 1 blends satire, mystery, and historical fiction as it explores the “sacrament” of coffee drinking, living sober, New Orleans’ civil rights history, and the legacy of slavery and Jim Crow in America. The French Quarter and Faubourgs Marigny and Tremé inhabit the novel every bit as vividly as the offbeat characters Sammy encounters in his adopted hometown, which, as Sammy says, “took him in, no questions asked.”

Though not always the most tuned in when it comes to himself, Sammy is a keen observer who takes readers on an antic journey that is often hilarious. But as Sammy becomes increasingly anxious about Catfish’s well-being, he begins to excavate buried truths about himself and about what the tragedy-bound Catfish calls the American Holocaust. Whether you call New Orleans home or have never even visited, with B. Sammy Singleton as your guide you’ll gain intimate new insights into a city many truly love, but few truly know.

The Coffee Shop Chronicles of
New Orleans — Part 2: The Last Beaucoeur

The second part of The Coffee Shop Chronicles of New Orleans picks up almost exactly where Part 1 left off. It is the morning of Friday, August 26, 2005, and B. Sammy Singleton is still reeling from the night before. Something is very wrong. Sammy's best friend, Catfish Beaucoeur, is missing, having left behind clues including a book of lynching photography and a disturbing handwritten poem.

More intent than ever on tracking down Catfish, and all thoughts of his coffee shop guidebook writing gig abandoned, Sammy takes off on a whirlwind quest through the streets of New Orleans that carries him to the office of Infinity Feingold, Catfish's formidable attorney; to the St. Charles mansion Catfish grew up in, where his mother, Tess, still resides; and, ultimately, to the Magazine Street antiques shop of Lee Ann Rush. Lee Ann is more concerned with the monster hurricane bearing down on the Gulf Coast than with Catfish's whereabouts, but she soon transports Sammy (and us) back to the 1960s and '70s, the school years during which she and Catfish were best friends.

Peopled with some of the same colorful characters who inhabited the first part of the book, including Sammy's housemate Naomi Plant and his landlord Georgia Moore, Part 2: The Last Beaucoeur explores the territory of the human heart as it weaves together a story of love, the saga of a slave-holding family and its place in New Orleans' civil rights history, and a meditation on the meaning of life and how our past inevitably shapes the here and now.
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