The Tom McGuane Experience

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. 

Greg Iles - THE BONE TREE - available for signed preorders

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.

Paris Is Always A Good Idea

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:


August trip:


November trip with Cara Black:


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

Spring Break in Oxford & Square Books


     If you haven’t made your spring break plans, listen up. It’s not exactly a secret that this is an ideal time (March 7 – 14 this year) to visit Oxford. The weather can be glorious, and by virtue of a dramatic population decrease, you pretty much have the place to yourself: traffic is light, restaurant seating is noncompetitive; there are Ole Miss tennis matches Thursday and Friday; Southside Gallery and other Square establishments are open; and the many splendid sites of the town and the University of Mississippi are open regular hours, including the the University Library and its Archives and Special Collections, with its permanent exhibits representing Faulkner and James Meredith, and the current exhibit, “Entertainment Collectors, Authors, and Critics.” A room there is dedicated to the late publisher, Seymour Lawrence, displaying material related to the authors he published – among others, Barry Hannah, Susan Minot, Tim O’Brien, Jayne Anne Phillips, Jim Harrison, and Tom McGuane (more on him in a sec).

      The University Museum also features Seymour Lawrence’s modern art collection, as well as the remarkable Robinson Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities, as well as the works of Theora Hamblett, and a temporary exhibition of the work of African American self-taught artists, not to mention 19th century scientific teaching instruments and, yes, dressed fleas. Those who have been here know this museum is a pleasant walk through Bailey’s Woods to Rowan Oak, William Faulkner’s home, which also will be open regular hours.

     But this ain’t the tourism office, so why are we telling you this? Simple: we have three fabulous author events this week, all beginning with an author reception at 5.  

     Tuesday, March 10 – Kevin Sessums, author of Mississippi Sissy, will be here to talk about his memoir, I Left It on the Mountain, a chronicle of a low life to redemption from the Mississippian who worked with Andy Warhol, was a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Allure, and interviewed and/or hung out with everyone from Madonna and Courtney Love to Jessica Lange.

     Wednesday, March 11 – Jamie Kornegay, Batesville native, Ole Miss grad, owner of Turnrow Books in Greenwood and longtime bookseller here at Square Books and one-time producer of Thacker Mountain, which he pulled out of the ditch more than a time or two, has finally done what he meant to do all along: write a novel. And it is simply great. Called Soil, published by Simon & Schuster, the story features Jay Mize, who has vague notions of a coming apocalypse and seeks to establish a sustainable farm, a place where he can shelter his wife and young son. But a flood and Jay’s building paranoia complicate their lives, and when floodwaters recede Jay finds a body in his field. If you have been missing Larry Brown or William Gay, Jamie is to the rescue.

     Thursday, March 12 – Tom McGuane, once published by Seymour Lawrence and a visitor to Oxford and Square Books on a few occasions, but not in a good while – will be here with his splendid new book of stories, Crow Fair, published by Knopf.  “…while it’s true that the farther you get from an actual product the better your chances of economic success, I and many of my classmates wanted more physical evidence of our efforts. I had friends who’d trained as historians, literary scholars, and philosophers who were now shoeing horses, wiring houses, and installing toilets. There’d been no suicides so far.” Such are the narrators and characters who populate Tom McGuane’s new book, an assemblage of seventeen stories, many set in the modern West outdoors, something the author – not only a member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters, but also the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame and the National Cutting Horse Hall of Fame – knows about.

     And if you can’t make it, you are more than welcome to order signed copies of these and many other books from us.

New Winter 2015 Dear Reader

     The wait is over! The Winter 2015 Dear Reader is finished and in the mail. Please, take a look here. Featured are four Ole Miss grads with forthcoming titles as well as the Oxford Conference for the Book.