Artist John Alexander is coming to Square Books

John Alexander will be in Oxford this September, and we urge you to check out his exhibit currently at the University Museums, “One World, Two Artists: John Alexander and Walter Anderson,” and to attend the opening reception there September 22.

Square Books will host a book signing and cocktail reception for the artist, featuring copies of the extraordinarily beautiful book, John Alexander, by Jane Livingston, produced for his retrospective exhibition at the Houston Museum of Fine Arts and published by Yale University Press (Call 1-800-648-4001 to order a copy).
Alexander is a native Texan who has lived and worked in New York since the late 1970s.  His work captures -- often breathtakingly -- the power, grotesquery, violence, mystery, and beauty of nature and animals, including humans, and has been exhibited and collected widely, including in the permanent collections of the Corcoran, the Ogden, the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, the Smithsonian, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  

To find out more about John Alexander, we urge you to visit his site and read Julia Reed’s brilliant Garden and Gun piece. Please consider availing yourself of this opportunity to meet and find out more about one of America’s greatest artists.   RH

The Help: Fact and Fiction -- A Community Conversation

The Help.  Many have seen the movie, some have read the book.  But everybody’s talking about it.   On Wednesday, September 28 at 5 p.m., we will host a “Community Conversation” about The Help at Off Square Books, open to the public.

The Help, by Mississippian Kathryn Stockett, was published in February, 2009.  Initially rejected by over sixty publishers, the book has now been on the bestseller list over 100 weeks, published in 35 countries, and sold over five million copies.  The book’s film adaptation grossed over $100 million within the first three weeks of its release.

The story, set in Jackson, Mississippi, involves the relationship between a young white woman and two black maids in the early 1960s period and environment of Civil Rights.

The featured guests for our event are Gene Dattel, Mississippi native and author of Cotton and Race in the Making of America: The Human Costs of Economic Power, called “a superb study” by historian Niall Ferguson, and Deidra Jackson, journalist and University of Mississippi faculty member.  Dattel has given presentations on “The Help: Fact or Fiction” and Jackson has published articles about The Help.

We will have a moderator on hand to keep the conversation going and help field questions from the audience.  This event is free and open to everyone with seating available on a first come first serve basis.  RH

For more information and the event listing please click here

Billy Collins Live

If you haven’t got time for bloggers or even friends who send emails with links to you tube clips they find amusing, move on now, because we are about to do that.   Someone recently told us about the three year-old boy who recites Billy Collins, so we just had to see about it; sure enough, here he is, with a signature Collins poem, “Litany."  But before you go there (and fail to get back to us), let us make sure you know about the bestselling spoken-word item in the history of Square Books – Billy Collins Live: A Performance at Symphony Space – because, while a tot poetry reciting is cute, this 2006 CD (which is only $19.95, and how many spoken word CDs stay in print 6 years?) is one that you will listen to over and over again (and give repeatedly to friends).   The poems are everything poetry should be – touching, funny, imaginative, entertaining, and meaningful; Billy Collins is a great reader; the audience is very with-it, catching (and cueing the listener for) all the subtleties; and Collins is given a very short but rousing introduction by Bill Murray.   You will never spend a better one hour and 15 minutes in your car, or anywhere else you might happen to be once you listen to this.  RH

Square Books Podcast: Ann Patchett (July 1, 2011)

Ann Patchett has come to Square Books for almost every one of her books, including her first book, The Patron Saint of Liars, when she was just 29 and on her first author tour, driving around the country alone.  She has written seven books since then--five novels and two books of nonfiction--including Bel Canto, which won her a PEN/Fualkner award and an Orange Prize for Fiction in 2002.  Most of her books have been included as part of our Signed Firsts Subscription, where each month subscribers receive a signed, first edition book.  Her new book State of Wonder will be the July Signed Firsts pick.  Ann was here last week to read from State of Wonder to a packed house at Off Square Books.  You can listen to the reading below but be warned--if you fear snakes you can just fast forward through those parts.  After her reading she talked a little about the process of writing State of Wonder which involved a trip to the Amazon for research.  Ann Patchett is an avid reader and before taking questions she spoke to the crowd about two books she highly recommends, Binocular Visions by Edith Pearlman and The All of It by Jeannette Haien, both of which she more or less rediscovered and wrote forewords to their respective new editions.  Click below to listen to the full reading.
Click here to order a signed a copy of State of Wonder.

Square Books Podcast: Oscar Hijuelos (June 21, 2011)

Pulitzer Prize winning author Oscar Hijuelos stopped by Off Square Books yesterday to read and discuss his new memoir Thoughts Without Cigarettes. Hijuelos is the author of eight novels including The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, which made him the first Hispanic to win the Pulitzer Prize and was later made into a film. During his reading, as you will hear, Hijuelos discussed the inspiration and process behind writing Mambo Kings. He even played a little guitar in between chapters. After the reading Hijuelos answered questions from the audience and played some more guitar before signing books. Signed copies of Thoughts Without Cigarettes are available here. You can listen to the entire reading below. 

 Oscar Hijuelos podcast 

Oscar Hijuelos plays guitar for Lyn and Richard after his signing. 

Bill Loehfelm stops in Off Square Books...talks THE DEVIL SHE KNOWS

Bill Loehfelm visited Square Books on Wednesday to read from and answer questions about The Devil She Knows, his new girtty crime thriller that features Staten Island barmaid Maureen Coughlin, who is causing a bit of a sensation in the book world. Loehfelm, who is from Brooklyn but now lives in New Orleans, said The Devil She Knows became more about the character than the plot -- he chose Maureen after seeing a young woman dressed in a tuxedo, smoking a cigarette while waiting at a bus stop in New York -- and thought she deserved a story. We expect to hear from this gutsy Irish lass again in his next book, to be set in New Orleans -- but you'll want to meet her now in The Devil She Knows! We hope to see Bill in Oxford again. SLM
Bill has an excellent blog that you can read here
Order signed copies of The Devil She Knows here