• A new Eudora Welty publication is a pretty and inexpensive hardcover edition that combines her classic short novels, A Delta Wedding and The Ponder Heart, into one volume (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22.00).
• Pat Conroy explores the origins of his love for reading and the power of books to shape a life in My Reading Life (Doubleday, 25.00 hb).
• Two books that have captured the attention of the nation this year include the present number one bestselling novel, The Tiger’s Wife (Random House, 25.00 hb), by 25 year-old Tea Obreht, who visited us in April.
• The other is The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (Random House, $30.00 hb), winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award and signed by the author, Isabel Wilkerson, the first African American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize.
• Tao Te Ching is considered to be the most terse and economical of the world’s religious texts, and this hardcover edition (Everyman, $18) with a ribbon marker is very nice.
• Another inexpensive hardcover classic that will fit in any dorm room or briefcase is The Quotable Thoreau (Princeton University Press, $19.95).
• Good Poems – American Places (Viking, $28.95), selected and cleverly divided into 15 topical sections by Garrison Keillor.
• Willie Morris composed his classic North Toward Home (Vintage, $15.95 pb) in his early 30s and I received it as a graduation gift when I completed high school, and it’s still good for the occasion. (I also got a towel that you wrap around your torso and snap at the waist, a sort of mini-toga.)
• 20 Under 40: Stories from the New Yorker (FSG, $16.00) is a paperback with French flaps containing the best from new young writers.
• Dean Faulkner Wells wrote a beautiful memoir with lots of great Oxford history in Every Day By the Sun: A Memoir of the Faulkners of Mississippi (Crown, $25.00), and it’s made more special by her signature.
• And One Was a Priest: The Life and Times of Duncan M. Gray (University Press of Mississippi, $40.00 hb) is an accomplished biography of a great man and inspiring figure, written by Oxford native Araminta Stone Johnston.
• No list of this sort is complete without something for the sports minded, and here it’s I Beat the Odds (Gotham, $26.00), signed by its author, the great football player and star of The Blindside, Michael Oher.
• You were wondering where the laugh stuff is. One is Thank You Notes by Jimmy Fallon ($12.00 pb), which is NOT a book on how to write a thank-you note.
• The other is appropriate for many graduates, F In Exams: The Very Best Totally Wrong Test Answers (Chronicle, $9.95 pb). Q: What is a fibula? A: A little lie.
After the reading, John Sayles was brief, articulate, and brilliant in talking about why he wrote the book and fielding a host of questions from the audience about the novel and about his many films. Regarding the inspiration for his film "Passion Fish," he said that Ingmar Bergman's film "Persona" combined with his time working as an orderly in a hospital both served as catalysts. He discussed the Southern setting for his film "Matewan," which seemed to be a crowd favorite, and talked about his book on the making of that film, Thinking in Pictures: The Making of the Movie Matewan. Before wrapping up the evening and signing everyone's books, Sayles discussed his method of writing versus his method of filmmaking, pointing out their distinct differences. Filmmaking, to paraphrase, is about everything that is revealed and shown to the audience while writing is everything that isn't. A Moment in the Sun is an excellent book and Publisher's Weekly says it "will stand among the finest work on [Sayles'] impressive resume." Call today for signed copies. DS
To home Tom Franklin triumphantly comes, then, with the L A Times Prize, presented by Attica Locke, who visited us in the summer of 2009 with her award winning first novel, Black Water Rising. Another winner at the Los Angeles ceremony, for the 2010 Innovator’s Award, are our friends at Powell’s Books, for “cutting edge work to bring books, publishing, and storytelling into the future.”
Hooray for Tom Franklin and Powell’s Books!
We thought about charging people for bathroom use, but that seems like making people who are thirsty pay for a glass of water, which is contrary to our fundamental beliefs. So we had a bright idea for 2011 Double Decker: charge $1 for use of our bathrooms, and all the money goes to the Oxford Boys and Girls Club.
On Saturday we will be working with Boys and Girls Club members who will be getting paid to help us monitor bathroom use. So we encourage you to visit us when you have the urge, at either Square Books or Off Square Books, enjoy our clean facilities, and donate a dollar, all the proceeds of which will go to a great organization, the Boys and Girls Club. (Jr. bathrooms will not be available for public use.)
And don't forget to get something to read before you go, because it's through the SALE OF BOOKS that we pay the water and sewer bill.
Happy Double Decker!
Don't miss Tracey Jackson this Thursday on Thacker Mountain Radio to kick off the Double Decker Arts Festival Weekend. Her book, Between a Rock and a Hard Place: Why Fifty is Not the New Thirty, is out now at Square Books.
Not since Nora Ephron's Crazy Salad (Dear Readers of a certain age will no doubt recall her insane essay "Dealing With the Er, Problem." Or maybe you won't.) can I remember a funnier, more out-front collection that rounds up and explores the universal changes that age and the new age are bringing us all. Jackson writes about motherhood, marriage, careers, bodies, medical procedures, sex, and how these things change not only in the course of our own lives but generationally, and supplies many wacky personal anecdotes; my favorite being her fantasy about Doing It with Jon Stewart, related in a discussion of masturbation after fifty. This is not one of those books that explains how to sunnily navigate menopause and other natural disasters and pretend that it's all good; Jackson tells us what we all know anyway: getting old sucks, but we might as well laugh our saggy asses off about it. Good choice for book groups. LH