Meet the LJ Reviewer | David L. Faucheaux

David L. Faucheaux (pronounced FOH-shay) started reviewing audiobooks for LJ in July 2006. A legally blind lifetime resident of Louisiana, he has an MLIS and is the author of the memoir Across Two Novembers: A Year in the Life of a Blind Bibliophile (CreateSpace: Amazon); see below for more about that. He has also appeared in a Lafayette, LA, local news segment, which you can watch here.

LJ recently caught up with Faucheaux via email. Here’s what he had to say.

How did you come into the LJ fold?
Author David H. Rothman (The Solomon ScandalsNetworld), a contact of mine, actually suggested I try it. I’d never have had the nerve otherwise. He reached out to Library Journal and they were interested. My MLIS maybe helped, too.

What categories/subjects do you cover?
I have reviewed a wide range of subjects including memoir, science fiction, contemporary fiction, urban fantasy, time-travel fantasy, horror, biography, mystery, fictional biography, food, travel, and my favorite, historical fiction. I had to look at my long list of titles to remember some of these. A good 50 percent of the books are historical fiction.

Which book(s) that you’ve reviewed for LJ do you recommend?
I try to learn something about the genre preferences of potential readers. Do they like a bit of history, a bit of romance, lots of suspense? This guides my suggestions. I just reviewed the new Tom Hanks short story collection [Uncommon Type: Some Stories] that garnered so much attention. Recently, I read Natasha Boyd’s The Indigo Girl, and would recommend this to any Southern woman, as it tells the story of how a young Eliza Lucas, living in 18th-century South Carolina, developed a method to produce and process indigo, the source of a brilliant blue dye.
I also plan to borrow Margaret George’s The Confessions of Young Nero from my local library, but would only suggest this book to a historical fiction fan. For nonfiction, I’d suggest Elisabeth Rosenthal‘s An American Sickness: How Healthcare Became Big Business and How You Can Take It Back, because it impacts everyone.

You’ve written and self-published a memoir, Across Two Novembers: A Year in the Life of a Blind Bibliophile, and you’re going on a virtual book tour. Tell us about this experience. What is the hardest part of writing a book? How long did it take you to write? 
In the book’s introduction, I explain that a friend, Katherine Schneider, asked me to review her recently published Occupying Aging: Delights, Disabilities, and Daily Life. I downloaded it from Bookshare.org, a website that provides ebooks to blind and print-challenged individuals, and dove in. While reading the book, I had a Eureka moment: “‘Hello, I could probably do a book like this.” It was a journal. I started right away, on November 16, 2013. I thought that if I said to myself, “Oh, you should start on January 1, 2014, as journals do,” I’d put it off and never do anything. I took a year to write it, ending on November 15, 2014. I had tried writing a short fiction piece years ago and became discouraged. So many of my career paths did not turn out as I had hoped. Luck, timing, health, all negatively impacted them.

One of the major challenges was the editing. I had never worked with an editor before. It was a learning experience. Added to that was my trying to include some older blog items and lots of book bits. Trying to figure out how to fit these various aspects into one package was a challenge to me and my editor.

The hardest thing has been trying to get the book publicized. Self-publishing has become more respectable, not exactly an equivalent to commercial publishing success, but not like vanity publishing. It’s still a challenge to be noticed. A library friend, connected with the Association of Specialized and Cooperative Library Agencies, recently told me that approximately 300,000 books are published annually by commercial presses, and some 3,000,000 are self-published. Trying to be heard amidst such a crowd is akin to a firefly being noticed against the backdrop of a supernova!

Give us the elevator pitch for your memoir.
Do you love books? Do you remember 2014? Do you know any blind people? If yes to the first question, and no to the second and third, why not visit Across Two Novembers and be swept away on a river of books to interesting places. See the world as I do.

Do you have advice for persons interested in reviewing for LJ? Did anybody guide you when you began reviewing? 
This is a hard one. I try to read reviews in various places: Goodreads, Kirkus is an interesting resource, and LJ. I seem to recall that when I started reviewing, [the editors] did send some input. Stephanie Klose does her absolute best to send things I’d like and sure hit it right with The Indigo Girl. But returning to my early days with LJ, I would have liked more input back then. I figured no news was good news, but I do not feel I have reached my peak as a reviewer. I know I could do better. I’d like to learn more tricks to squeezing in the maximum information with the word count restrictions (about 175-200 words), and one day be recognized for the quality of my reviews of audiobooks.

I focus as much on the narration (does the narrator have a smoky voice or elegant English diction), how the publisher handles author’s notes and resources, and even beginning- and end-of-CD announcements. I’m not always as good with the more literary aspects of fiction, I fear.

What would you tell a potential reader of your book to consider if they were reviewing it?
I’d ask them not to be put off by its length. About ten percent of it is a bibliography and webography. I’d suggest that a reviewer read the introduction, the epilog, and the first two chapters. This alone would give any person a sense of the book’s purpose and the quality of the writing. My secret fear is it’s a bit too long for a journal.

My book was written to take you into my world. I wanted my voice to be heard. Seems today, everyone is being heard somewhere, either on a ghastly reality TV show, on Twitter, Facebook, or other online venues. I wanted to add my voice to the growing field of memoirs by blind authors. I worry I did not accomplish enough interesting things. I hope this is not true. In any event, I put the fears aside and jumped in.

What do you do in your spare time besides read (or listen to) books?
I enjoy eating out, trying new restaurants. I also enjoy listening to music, and when I feel up to it health-wise, travel, but not solo. I prefer a small group of friends and educational travel.

If you could write or commission any kind of book, what would it be? 
I have several ideas:
1. Empress Eugenie of France: She was just as interesting as Empress Elizabeth of Hapsburg or Queen Victoria, two of her contemporaries. But I find no writer today, in English, who has done anything with her, either fictionalized or straight biography. If French writers have covered  her, I have not located the translations. She lived at a particularly interesting time and reigned over the circus that was the empire of Napoleon III. It all came tumbling down in 1871, and she later lost her son in a hunting accident in South Africa. She lived until 1920. Surely, if Marie Antoinette rates high enough, Eugenie should.

2. The Inca: Gary Jennings wrote Aztec. (Actually, there were several follow-up books to his Aztec, but it was Aztec that was outstanding; the others were possibly written at the suggestion of an editor to cash in on Aztec’s success). I always hoped Jennings would have lived long enough to write about the Inca, to do for that group of South American Native peoples what Aztec did for Mexico.

3. A short story collection about my days at a residential school for the blind: I could possibly do this with some guidance. This type of school is rapidly fading from popularity. Most blind children today are mainstreamed into public schools. In the 1970s, this was not always the case.

4. Isabella Mora, an ancestor of mine. She came to Louisiana in 1779, about age ten, with her Canary Island family. I found her story interesting because two of her descendants married, and we think [this] caused the eye condition in our family. Also, exploring her life in Spanish Louisiana would be interesting because few people recall Louisiana was Spanish for a time, not just French.

 

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Liz French About Liz French

Library Journal Senior Editor Liz French edits nonfiction and women's fiction reviews at LJ and also compiles the "What We're Reading" and "Classic Returns" columns for LJ online. She's inordinately interested in what you're reading as well. Email: efrench@mediasourceinc.com, Twitter: @lizefrench

Comments

  1. Tanya P. Faucheux says:

    A wonderful look into the life of David Faucheux . Please write another book. I am truly looking forward to reading more from this author.

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