"Leaving Letitia Street" by Jacqueline Simon, Braeswood Books, 200 pages
Jacqueline Simon grew up in Baton Rouge on Letitia Street, a 45-minute walk from the Mississippi River, and graduated from LSU.
She became a writer, crafting richly varied short stories about the difficulties of creating or maintaining relationships with the people we love best: spouses, aging parents, meddling siblings, children and lovers, young and old.
Her new book, "Leaving Letitia Street," is a collection of 11 of her stories — four prizewinning ones and seven previously unpublished.
The stories of the unforgettable Southerners are diverse: An ambitious artist confronts her family's conventional values; a woman who wants to marry finds fault with every man she meets; an accountant, practical to the core, tries to understand his gifted, clinically depressed brother; a newlywed working woman must deal with a lively stepchild; adult children quarrel over their father's need for a nursing home; a lonely undergraduate meets the wrong woman.
The stories, delivered with charm and wry humor, vary in time and place from the New Orleans of WWII to a Gen X dorm room.
Although a few characters make reappearances at different points in their lives, each story in the collection stands on its own.
Simon lives in Houston and New Hampshire with her husband. She has taught writing at almost every level, first in high schools in Cocoa Beach and Miami Springs, Florida; later as professor of English in the Houston Community College System; and as adjunct in Rice University’s Glasscock School. Her stories have appeared in Ploughshares, Redbook, Domestic Crude (now Gulf Coast), other journals and the anthology Her Work.