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BOHEMIAN NEW ORLEANS: The Story of the Outsider and Loujon Press
(University Press of Mississippi) by Jeff Weddle. 220 pages. After committing a crime and jail time, Jon Edgar Webb became a published author and was a small success. In 1938, he met Louise Madaio and together they criss-crossed the country until they settled in New Orleans. Using his mild popularity in the writing world, Webb was able to set up a network of writers who contributed to what he envisioned as a great literary magazine. It worked. Throughout the 1960’s, Jon Edgar Web and ‘Gypsy Lou’ Webb turned the literary world on its head with the magazine “Outsider” and with a couple of published books, including the first ever by one Charles Bukowski, who they plucked from relative obscurity. Fueled by the duo’s sweat, all of Loujon Press’s material was hand cranked on small printing presses located smack dab in the middle of wherever it was they called home. Amazingly, through pain and sickness, the couple remained together and publishing ‘til Jon’s death in 1971.
   Wow, talk about a biographical look at a couple that stretches from devoted love to things that I am sure Jon Edgar Webb rather not be known. Jeff Weddle wonderfully and interestingly transforms the reader into a fly on the wall witnessing the lives of Jon and Gypsy Lou. What I found most admirable about the couple was there unconditional love for each other and their insane devotion to their publishing work. Not only did they publish the magazine and books, they did so in a way that was far different than anything done by anyone else. I have to wonder how much more they may have accomplished if they actually stayed in one place for longer than a year; god they were busy bodies. Mainly focusing on the Webbs, of course, Weddle also weaves in many people who touched their lives. While a lot of time is spent detailing the Webb/Bukowski dealings, Weddle refuses to take the easy road and capitalize on Bukowski’s name and fame: attention is paid to everyone. The handful of photographs certainly helps put faces with the words and the list of contributors to each “Outsider” is a great touch. It’s amazing the earthquake two can cause with a printing press in their living room. – Denis Sheehan

 

 

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