The Lemuria Books building in Jackson was dimly lit and intimate on Thursday, Feb. 9, as Donna Ladd and Ayana Taylor read from “Best AltWeekly Writing and Design 2005.” The Jackson Free Press hosted this book reading and signing by two of its most distinguished journalists, Editor-in-Chief Ladd and freelance writer Taylor, who won first-place awards for feature writing and short-form news, respectively, in the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies’ 2005 AltWeekly Awards contest.
After a warning that some of the content was disturbing, Ladd read “Alleged Victims,” her gripping feature story about a local family and their horrific encounter with sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. Members of the family, who are suing the Jackson Archdiocese for concealing the abuse of their sons during the 1970s, were present at the reading.
Taylor read “X Marks the Boycott,” one of three short-form stories that garnered her an award. In it, Taylor reported on the uproar when a man set up a booth at the Mississippi state fair in support of Edgar Ray Killen, a convicted civil rights murderer. Some members of the community vowed to boycott the fair because of its decision to allow such a booth.
After the readings, Ladd and Taylor signed copies of the book. The store sold more than 25 copies, and the night was “a great success,” Ladd said.