Village Voice is owned by the irrepressible Odile Hellier, the daughter of a resistance fighter who was killed in WWII and had his home library piled up in the street and burned by Nazi officers. Odile is a passionate hand-seller of books, which she calls her raison d'etre. The shop is small enough to be cozy but large enough to sport a broad and highly appealing selection of new books. Odile buys her stock from both the U.K. and America, and as a browser it is a nice sensation to find all the new books from both countries, yet odd to think that one can find such marvelous choices in France, but not in England or the U.S.
Odille has a steady stream of writers coming through her store, Paris having always been a magnet for writers, many of whom are in Paris to meet with their French publishers, as was the case when I visited the shop with Richard Ford, who has had a strong following of French readers for many years. He was in Paris, working, as I recall, on Women With Men, and his reading at Village Voice was packed, with Diane Johnson and Mavis Gallant among those in attendance. Writers read or speak in the shop from a stairway landing, with audience gathered around the ground floor. The store is in the 6th Arrondissement at 6, rue Princesse, a sweet, petite street where Village Voice beckons. If you go to Paris, don't miss Village Voice, a sampling of which may be found here: http://www.villagevoicebookshop.com/index.html
Reading Groups are invited to meet with Mary Karr in conjunction with her Square Books appearance Tuesday, July 13. She will be at Off Square Books to read from and/or talk about her brilliant new memoir, Lit, which will be out in paperback June 29.
In an interview with the Oxford Enterprise last year, Richard Howorth spoke of Lit as one of the four books he would enjoy giving to a friend as a gift, saying the title, Lit, is “A triple entendre” – Lit, meaning literature; Lit, as in a state of intoxication; and Lit, spiritually.
Mary Karr is highly regarded for her speaking ability, combining the qualities of humor and blunt, occasionally profane candor with the intellectual and prescient sensibilities of a poet, which she is.
If your reading group would like to meet with Mary Karr, contact Lyn by emailing her at lyn[at]squarebooks.com or calling 662-236-2262.
Family, friends, and fans packed into Off Square Books Thursday night to support local writers and their real stories in the ongoing bookstore summer series, “An Off Night.” Neil White, Al Povall, Mickey Smith and Gene Hays shared the stage, each speaking to a packed house about their recently published books. The half-hour early crowd enjoyed wine and hors d’ouvres (thanks, Neil & Debbie) until the main event. Oxonians mingled and had their books signed before taking their seats.
After a brief introduction from Richard Howorth, Mickey Smith took the podium to discuss his book How Fibber McGee and Molly Won World War II. He asked the audience to raise hands if they'd heard of Fibber McGee and Molly -- most did -- then told how the radio show, sponsored by Johnson's Wax, had boosted morale while entertaining listeners during World War II, and became so popular that FDR chose to have his famous "Fireside Chats" immediately following Fibber McGee and Molly. The crowd was stirred by Mickey Smith's passionate memory of the show and its place in the world when "times were different in America," as the crowd murmured in agreement.
Allie Povall used a bit of his allotted time to graciously introduce his mother, Betty Staub, and many other members of his family, pointing out that they, along with some friends in the crowd, came from the place where the story of his book, The Time of Eddie Noel, took place--Holmes County, Mississippi. Mr. Povall, a retired attorney, then delivered a compelling outline of the dramatic actions of Eddie Noel, an African American man who killed a white man and, as a lynch mob tried to track him down, shot and killed two more, and injured three, two seriously, before fleeing into the Delta woods, never to be sentenced, convicted, tried, or even arraigned, living out the rest of his life in Indiana. Allie Povall has written a fascinating account of a little known story that occurred nearby and prior to the horrible murder of Emmett Till, where the outcome was far different, and Povall seeks to explain why.
Next up was veteran Gene Hays. Gene was dressed in full Marine attire and embraced the crowd in a patriotic manner. He commented on his book, Year of the Monkey, which tells the true story of the friendship and camaraderie between Major Rich Risner and Staff Sergeant Dick Petterson. Both gentlemen fought together in Vietnam after working on a secret mission during the 1950s. Gene is also a Post Commander for American Legion Post 55 here in Oxford.
Last, but not least, was Neil White to talk about the paperback release of his memoir, In the Sanctuary of Outcasts. Neil was at Square Books a year ago to the date for the hardback release of the same book. It went so well we had to have him back for the paperback. He entertained the crowd with stories from the past year -- one in particular about a group of elementary students that visited Rowan Oak on a field trip. The kids thought they were meeting William Faulkner, and were confused when they met Neil instead. He received a letter several weeks later from one of the boys in attendance. The author of the letter said he had complained to his teacher that the class should be reading “Mr. Neil” instead of Mr. Bill. Neil’s story is a great one and it was nice to hear him tell the crowd about his time spent in Carville, Louisiana, which also happens to be the last leper colony in the country. If you haven’t checked out Neil’s book we encourage you to do so. Book clubs especially will enjoy the new paperback release, which contains extra interviews and insights.
It was a great night for Oxford writers and their fascinating stories. Be on the lookout for more “Off Nights” this summer.
Fiction: Frederick Barthelme for Waveland
Nonfiction: Charles W. Eagles for The Price of Defiance: James Meredith and the Integration of Ole Miss
Poetry: D.C. Berry for Hamlet Offstage
Visual Art: Charles Crossley for the exhibition Charles Crossley: Textures, Shapes and Forms of Spirits.
Photography: Michael Loyd Young for his book Blues, Booze and BBQ
Musical Composition (classical/concert): Sandy Phillips for Sonata No. 2, for flute and organ.
Special Achievement Award: The Passions of Walter Anderson: A Dramatic Celebration of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, an interdisciplinary work of drama, art, music and dance performed at the 2009 Oxford Conference for the Book. It was a creative collaboration by Jimmyle Listenbee, Amanda Malloy, Kevin Malloy, Alex Mauney, Rhona Justice-Malloy, Jared Spears and Michael Barnett.
Lifetime Achievement Award: William Ferris
Local writer Jack Pendarvis, who lives just a couple of blocks away from Square Books, is one of our favorite customers, not because he buys a lot of books (we don't talk about that), but because he is always curious about what books have recently arrived, what we're reading, and happy to talk about what he has read recently. Plus he always says something that makes us laugh. He kindly mentioned us in a recent blog: Jack Pendarvis on Reading.