Bogalusa native’s book focuses on personal stories in its pages

Published 8:33 am Friday, August 12, 2016

Ardie Cesario grew up in Bogalusa, and over the years he found himself surrounded by more than a few characters in more than a few story-worthy situations.

Over the years, Cesario, whose professions include a college teacher, an insurance agent and a public speaker, has mined his autobiography for stories and lessons. Some of those stories were published two weeks ago in his second book, We Throw Things at You: Dealing with Life’s Zingers.

The stories range from the romantic to the humorous to the tragic, but all six use personal stories to illustrate a larger truth — be good to yourself and be good to others. The book is dedicated to Martha White, a little-known civil rights protester from Baton Rouge who sat in the white section of a public bus before Rosa Parks staged a similar protest in Alabama. The Baton Rouge bus boycott did inspire the Martin Luther King to lead the larger and longer Montgomery boycott, though it’s unclear whether he realized White’s role in the protest.

Cesario said her story illustrates how small, personal choices can inspire larger events. He said when he talks to students in community college, many of them don’t understand that the civil rights struggle was a personal struggle, made up of hundreds of individual choices.

“They don’t understand what the struggle really was,” he said. “A lot of people don’t know what the past really was and the fact that we can rise above our struggle, that a woman from Baton Rouge, in an open, courageous act, could change the world, and all of us have the power to do something really dramatic.”

Parks and White might be known to history, but Cesario said most people, in their lives, make small choices that tend to stick with them for years or even decades.

“I do hospice work and I’ve been with hundreds of people on their deathbeds,” he said. “They never talk about their days of work, but there’s always this one insignificant thing they did that they know inspired someone or made some difference.”

Big or small, Cesario’s stories are all about the personal.

The stories use fictional names and, in some cases, he fictionalizes the places so as to not embarrass anyone. But each story is about personal choice and consequences.

“It’s all about struggle. My wife is a jewelry designer and one day I was thinking about the pearl — about how out of struggle, something so beautiful comes,” he said.

Cesario is a born storyteller, though he said his usual day job as an insurance agent doesn’t give him much creative license.

“I’ve written professional articles,” he said. “But no one ever reads lame insurance and financial stuff … Sometimes I get a byline and sometimes I don’t, but no one ever reads that stuff. This is my hobby.”

It’s a hobby that has attracted a few fans. Cesario said as he’s told his stories, they’ve gained interest.

“I always write as thoughts come to mind,” he said. “Every now and then I tell the stories over and over again, and one day someone said … ‘Man, you ought to write these stories down.’”

So he did.

We Throw Things at You is available on e-readers and at online bookstores as at Books-a-Million and Barnes and Noble and other bookstores. Cesario said he is planning to have an event in Bogalusa, though a date and location have yet to be decided.