On Monday night Ron Borne attracted a large and very friendly hometown crowd for the event that included his book, Beginnings & Ends, a selection of favorite first and last lines in stories by contemporary Oxford writers. A fairly good part of that crowd consisted of the writers themselves -- John T. Edge, Ace Atkins, Larry Wells, Neil White (who is also the publisher), Beth Ann Fennelly, Tom Franklin, Curtis Wilkie, Chris Offutt, John T. Edge, Jim Dees, and the Most Distinguished Writer in Residence, Jere Hoar. Each took a turn at the podium, reading a spot or two of their stuff and some, a bit by others -- Barry Hannah, Larry Brown, Dean Wells, and Willie Morris -- so that the evening was almost wake-ish in fond remembrances of Oxford writers past. In fact, Dr. Borne said something like, "this is the way I hope my funeral will be," didn't he?

The night began with a pitch for Read This! Handpicked Favorites from America's Indie Bookstores, with an introduction by Ann Patchett. This little gem (Coffee House Press, $12 pb) recommends books from booksellers representing twenty-five U.S. bookstores, including a few here at Square Books, and is an excellent little toilet-side reference-book stocking-stuffer, if it's not too early to say so. Then poet-bookseller Travis Smith began reading the essay by Jack Pendarvis (who was home with that cold that seems to be making its rounds in Oxford) that appears in another new bibliobook, My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop (Black Dog & Leventhal, $23.95), containing essays by 82 writers on their favorite bookstores -- Barry Moser on Lemuria, Abraham Verghese on Prairie Lights, Edith Pearlman on Brookline Booksmith, John Grisham on That Bookstore In Blytheville, a really interesting and fun tome. Travis's reading was nearly complete when he was interrupted by cheering from the crowd -- for Jack, who had magically healed and came forward to read his final paragraph. It is a lovely essay.

There followed that complicated book-signing thing where lots of writers are involved, like herding cats. It was a you-had-to-be-there kind of evening, many leaving with a sigh, saying, "Oh, that was fun!" But we didn't know what to say to the person who at one point asked if we reckoned she could get one of Tom Franklin's books by what she called "on a kindle." She was clearly lost.  RH

Richard Howorth with Ellen Douglas

Josephine Haxton, who wrote eleven books under the pen name Ellen Douglas, died Wednesday, November 7, 2012, at age 91. She has passed on to writers’ heaven and leaves behind a large imprint upon Mississippi cultural heritage and Square Books history, too.

Ellen Douglas was the first writer to do a book-signing at Square Books, just over a month after the store opened. During plans to open the store I had learned that her novel, The Rock Cried Out, was to be published in the fall. I had not met her but knew that she had been a friend of my mother’s at Ole Miss, and I wrote to her to see if she might come to the store, as she was living in Jackson at the time.

“I would like to do an autograph party for you, if you feel you can drum up enough trade to make it worth our while,” she responded. “I’ve done successful ones and miserable ones and I know it takes a lot of promotion to pull one off.” University of Mississippi English professor Doreen Fowler wrote a good review for the Memphis Commerical Appeal; we did our best to promote the event, and on October 20, 1979, we sold forty-nine copies of The Rock Cried Out -- with one copy left for stock.

Ellen Douglas’s Apostles of Light was a 1973 National Book Award finalist. She received the Mississippi Institute for Arts and Letters Lifetime Achievement Award in 2008. Many of her books, in which characters of family and community bring Mississippi’s lore and legacy to life, remain in print.

She returned many times to Oxford, where she taught creative writing at the University of Mississippi from 1979 to 1983, to the Oxford Conference for the Book, and to Square Books, where she gave a memorable reading, along with John Grisham and Larry Brown, on the occasion of our 25th anniversary.

Ellen Douglas was a masterful storyteller who was unafraid to peer into the fragile fissures of society and the human heart and tell the reader what she found. She leaves behind her three sons, Ayres, Richard, and Brooks Haxton, the poet, and their families.  RH

Ellen Douglas




Roll on over to Two Stick Sushi Bar to meet Mississippi native and sushi chef Marisa Baggett. Along with Marisa's delicious sushi rolls, Two Stick is preparing a specialty kiwi gimlet cocktail for the perfect accompaniment. Marisa's new book not only offers simple sushi recipes for the home cook but also educates the reader about the importance of seafood sustainability. Eat, drink and be educated!

Our buyer has just returned from Chicago where he found lots of great deals on bargain books. These shipments will be coming in the next few weeks and we will keep you posted on some treasures as they arrive. The first shipment came yesterday & we received some terrific cookbooks, kids books and an assortment of $5.99 paperbacks .  

And while you are browsing watch out for our star books. These are bargain and used books that have been marked down to $1, $2, and $5. The inventory is always changing in our bargain section at Off Square Books, so for the best deals shop early and often!

Given the importance of what they do, and the controversies that often surround them, and the violent people they sometimes confront, it is remarkable that in the history of this country only four active federal judges have been murdered.

Judge Raymond Fawcett has just become number five.

Who is the Racketeer? And what does he have to do with the judge’s untimely demise? His name, for the moment, is Malcolm Bannister. Job status? Former attorney. Current residence? The Federal Prison Camp near Frostburg, Maryland.

On paper, Malcolm’s situation isn’t looking too good these days, but he’s got an ace up his sleeve. He knows who killed Judge Fawcett, and he knows why. The judge’s body was found in his remote lakeside cabin. There was no forced entry, no struggle, just two dead bodies: Judge Fawcett and his young secretary. And one large, state-of-the-art, extremely secure safe, opened and emptied.

What was in the safe? The FBI would love to know. And Malcolm Bannister would love to tell them. But everything has a price—especially information as explosive as the sequence of events that led to Judge Fawcett’s death. And the Racketeer wasn’t born yesterday . . .

Nothing is as it seems and everything’s fair game in this wickedly clever new novel from John Grisham, the undisputed master of the legal thriller.

Grisham fans, we have plenty of signed copies of CALICO JOE released April 10th.

A large crowd formed outside Square Books in anticipation of Caroline Kennedy's book signing October 11th.   At 4 p.m. Ms. Kennedy took her seat behind a table in the back of the store and graciously greeted everyone in attendance, many of whom related stories about the influence her family had had on their lives. She asked questions of many Ole Miss students, and was photographed continuously, shook a lot of hands, signed all the copies of Listening In, and surprised the crowd down the street at Off Square Books with an impromptu appearance on Thacker Mountain Radio. Backstage she met Charlie Mars, who gave her his new CD, Blackberry Light, along with a brief (and we suspect partial) tattoo presentation.

Having been urged to come to Oxford by her daughter, Rose, who visited Oxford this summer, Caroline Kennedy took the time to acquaint herself with our town, and was noticed by lots of folks as she walked around the Square, ate in local restaurants, drove around town and campus, and toured Rowan Oak. She took a special interest in seeing the home of L. Q. C. Lamar, as Lamar is one of the subjects of her father's classic book, Profiles In Courage. Her visit here is unquestionably one of Square Books' prouder and more memorable moments.  RH

**We have a few signed copies of LISTENING IN left at Square Books so call and order today.
Woooo boy.  I'm looking at next week's event schedule and see that it is not only a full week, but a wildly varied one as well.  Perhaps it could be seen as a fairly accurate sampling of what we always striving for in connecting up authors with their readers. On Tuesday, Kristen Iversen, will be discussing her book FULL BODY BURDEN: GROWING UP IN THE NUCLEAR SHADOW OF ROCKY FLATS. In this serious piece of investigative journalism, Ms. Iversen writes about Rocky Flats which, at least at one time, had a higher level of plutonium in the soil than Nagasaki. Parallel to her reporting she shares her memories from her childhood and later life there, making this at once a factual account and a close-up view of the human cost.
Wednesday we welcome Chuck Thompson back to Oxford, perhaps for the last time without a passport visa.  Mr. Thompson visited us last with a collection of his travel writing SMILE WHEN YOU'RE LYING. Unbeknownst to us, he must have been doing research for his newest book BETTER OFF WITHOUT 'EM:  A NORTHERN MANIFESTO FOR SOUTHERN SECESSION, which, depending on your point of view, is caustic humor in the "Modest Proposal" tradition or an inflammatory and vituperative return to yellow journalism. Join the conversation to decide for yourself.
J.R. Moehringer came to Square Books in 2005 when he published his touching memoir THE TENDER BAR, of growing up in a single mother household and how the regulars at his uncle's bar became his father figures. SUTTON is his first novel and by all accounts this story of Willie Sutton, who robbed over 100 banks in his day is every bit as poignant and well written.  Mr. Moehringer will be the guest author on Thacker Mountain Radio on Thursday.
That show will begin at 6pm by which time the signing for LISTENING IN: THE SECRET WHITEHOUSE RECORDINGS OF JOHN F. KENNEDY with Caroline Kennedy should be winding down. Ms. Kennedy will be signing at the original Square Books building beginning at 4pm.  It is a ticketed signing with a limited number so if you haven't purchased your copy and received your ticket you should do so soon.
Friday we will bring it back home with SWEETNESS FOLLOWS: THE STORY OF SAM AND THE TREAT OF THE WEEK, in which Mississippian Katy Houston shares the desserts she made for and recounts the story of the recovery of Sam Lane after a near fatal bicycle accident.  A sweet way to end a roller coaster week filled with radioactivity, bank robbers, yankee secessionists, and a daughter of Camelot.

SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo
THE SHADOW SOCIETY by Marie Rutkoski
PROMISED by Caragh O'Brien
CREWEL by Gennifer Albin