Blogs

On Monday, June 15th, please help us welcome Marja Mills with her memoir and biography of Harper Lee, The Mockingbird Next Door. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is one of the best loved novels of the twentieth century. But for the last fifty years, the novel's celebrated author, Harper Lee, has said almost nothing on the record. Journalists have trekked to her hometown of Monroeville, Alabama, where Harper Lee, known to her friends as Nelle, has lived with her sister, Alice, for decades, trying and failing to get an interview with the author. But in 2001, the Lee sisters opened their door to "Chicago Tribune "journalist Marja Mills. It was the beginning of a long conversation--and a great friendship. In 2004, with the Lees' blessing, Mills moved into the house next door to the sisters. She spent the next eighteen months there, sharing coffee at McDonalds and trips to the Laundromat with Nelle, feeding the ducks and going out for catfish supper with the sisters, and exploring all over lower Alabama with the Lees' inner circle of friends. Nelle shared her love of history, literature, and the Southern way of life with Mills, as well as her keen sense of how journalism should be practiced. As the sisters decided to let Mills tell their story, Nelle helped make sure she was getting the story--and the South--right. Alice, the keeper of the Lee family history, shared the stories of their family. The Mockingbird Next Door is the story of Mills's friendship with the Lee sisters. It is a testament to the great intelligence, sharp wit, and tremendous storytelling power of these two women, especially that of Nelle. Mills was given a rare opportunity to know Nelle Harper Lee, to be part of the Lees' life in Alabama, and to hear them reflect on their upbringing, their corner of the Deep South, how To Kill a Mockingbird affected their lives, and why Nelle Harper Lee chose to never write another novel - until now.

The most recent Dear Reader Newsletter is in the mail and in the store. Please click the image to browse the newsletter on your computer in .pdf format.

Today, May 12, is the release of John Grisham's Theodore Boone: The Fugitive. This is book 5 in the Theo Boone series. On a field trip to Washington, DC, Theo spots a familiar face on the Metro: Duffy, who jumped bail and was never seen again. Theo’s quick thinking helps bring Duffy back to Strattenburg to stand trial. But now that Duffy knows who he is, Theo is in greater danger than he’s ever been in before. Even when every­thing is on the line, Theodore Boone will stop at nothing to make sure a killer is brought to justice. So be sure to stop by Square Books Jr. and grab your signed copy today.

 

On this Saturday, May 2nd, For Mississippi Bookstore Day we are selling some of the limited edition special items produced for Independent Bookstore Day, like the tea towel with the Pat Conroy quote and the Margaret Atwood stencil, as well as an exclusive and very special tshirt designed by Laurie Fisher, the author of the bestselling WHERE DO THEY GO ON GAME DAY.  Throughout the day we'll serve some refreshments and raffle off items. We will also include a FREE Roz Chast tote for purchases over $50.00 while supplies last. But as we are celebrating bookstores, we'll mostly just do what bookstores do best,  recommend and sell books to all who come to see us at any of the three Square Books stores on the square in Oxford.

 

We knew somewhat vaguely about a project being done by Alysia Steele, who teaches in the Meek Journalism School here at the University of Mississippi, a book of photographs of older African American women from the Delta, to be published by Center Street, a division of Hachette Books.

 
But nothing could have prepared us for the book we took out of a box this morning -- a splendid and moving portrait, with beautiful photographs, of these wonderful women, accompanied by brief interviews that reveal remarkable life stories.
 
The book was inspired by Alysia Steele's memory of her black grandmother (her other one is white) who died in 1994.   In the process of discovering these women, as Alysia says, she now has "more than fifty grandmothers."   If you want to see a book that thoughtfully and lovingly celebrates women, Mississippians, or humanity, please come take a look at Delta Jewels.
 
Alysia Steele will talk about and sign copies of Delta Jewels (and we believe a couple of the women from the book will be with her) Tuesday at 5 p.m., April 7, at Off Square Books.

Thirty minutes after greeting a warm crowd at Off Square Books Thursday, March 12, Tom McGuane sat in a wooden armchair on the stage and read "Casserole," the shortest story in his excellent new collection from Knopf, Crow Fair.  Explaining that the story's brevity would allow more time for conversation, he then answered questions: on the difference between directing movies (he was the director of "92 in the Shade" and "Missouri Breaks") and writing fiction, he said he enjoyed directing but that it takes too much time to execute a single idea, and he had "too many other things to do" with fiction; about the short story form, his view is that it is presently enjoying something of a revival, mentioning the number of  writers (Maile Meloy, Donald Antrim) as well as some favorites, including Updike, Cheever, and "another Canadian, besides Alice Munro -- Mavis Gallant"; about Barry Hannah, in whose memory Crow Fair is dedicated, he told a funny tale of once being fooled by Hannah in his "jet pilot" personage.

Forty-five minutes later, with a rousing ovation, he signed a lot of books, both old and new, and met with friends, also the old and new.  Tom Franklin was able to meet the writer who once called him and left on Franklin's phone a message of praise "I wanted never to erase."  Many if not all of us there felt the same way Jere Hoar did, as he told us in a recent message: Today, I'm still enjoying the memory of Tom McGuane's splendid "reading."  It was one of the best in my memory.  I'm happy to have been there. 

The release date for THE BONE TREE is quickly approaching, April 21st, and Square Books is honored to be the third stop on Greg Iles' national book tour. We remember when Iles was here for his first book, SPANDAU PHOENIX, and now we get to be with him for his long awaited fifteenth. Please join us Friday, April 24th at 6:00 p.m. for Thacker Mountain Radio on the Double Decker Stage to celebrate with our beloved Mississippi novelist.


If you are unable to attend the event but would like your copy of THE BONE TREE signed to you or a friend please fill in the 'order comments' box during checkout exactly how you want the inscription to read in the book.

Through an arrangement with Politics & Prose, of Washington, DC -- one of our favorite fellow independent bookstores -- Square Books is happy to inform customers of a travel opportunity of a distinctly literary flavor with three trips to Paris in either May, August, or November.

These trips will last one week and involve a mix of organized touring and free time. Days will be punctuated with evening salons involving conversation about books or anything else people want to discuss. The number of participants will be capped at 20, and the groups will be led by a bookseller and two experienced travel guides who have worked with Politics & Prose to set up the itineraries.

 

Past Paris trips have received very positive reviews. Travelers have appreciated the intimate group size and the more individualized, casual travel experience, free of buses but still with expert tour leaders accustomed to recommending sights off the beaten path.  The trips are priced very reasonably—from $2,850 to $3,950 (not including airfare) depending on the season and fluctuating hotel costs.

 

The first trip will be in May, and given how soon that is, THE SIGN-UP DEADLINE FOR THIS TRIP IS MARCH 15.

 

The second trip will be in August, and the third (led by Cara Black) in early November.

 

Each trip has its own web page outlining the details. Here are the URLs:

 

May trip: http://www.politics-prose.com/spring-paris

 

August trip:  http://www.politics-prose.com/summer-paris

 

November trip with Cara Black: http://www.politics-prose.com/paris

 

Let them know Square Books recommended you, and bon voyage!

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