2011 is a year that will begin "memoirably," at least here at Square Books. In the New Year's first quarter we will see at Square Books four excellent memoirs -- and, on various book-signing dates, the people who have written them. In lieu of the sort of discussion here that mere mention of the memoir genre always invites, I recommend for those who wish to ruminate on this subject the excellent January 25, 2010, New Yorker article, "But Enough About Me," by Daniel Mendelsohn, who recognizes that "memoir, for much of its modern history, has been the black sheep of the literary family," and that "confessional memoirs have been irresistible to both writers and readers for a very long time, and, pretty much from the beginning, people have been complaining about the shallowness, the opportunism, the lying, the betrayals, the narcissim." For now, just leave it that memoirs may be -- as is the case in the hard-earned, shocking, and illuminating truths of these four books -- legitimate and very welcome literary accomplishments. Here they are, in order of publication date:
We're really excited about all the buzz for Barry Hannah's new collection of stories, Long, Last, Happy. Grove Press has put together a great trailer for the book featuring some of our favorite writers and friends of Square Books. Watch it below. You can also read some great reviews of the collection at The New York Observer, The Wallstreet Journal, and the new issue of Bookforum.
Here's a bit from the press release on the partnership between Google and the American Booksellers Association, which Square Books is a member of:
A Google eBook is a new form of cloud-based digital book that allows readers to access their libraries on almost any device from one single repository, regardless of where the e-book was purchased. ABA has partnered with Google because of its open and accessible platform, which allows ABA member bookstores to provide an easy way for their customers to discover, read, and buy e-books at competitive prices. Google is offering hundreds of thousands of titles for sale, ranging from new releases and bestsellers in every category to classics in the public domain. With today’s launch, the complete e-book catalogs of five publishers that have adopted agency plans – Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Simon & Schuster, and John Wiley – are now available via IndieCommerce websites, and it is expected that Penguin e-books will be available soon.
“There is unmistakable evidence that an increasing number of consumers want to read books in digital form, as is shown by the almost doubling of e-book sales in the last year,” said ABA Chief Operating Officer Len Vlahos. “Google eBooks allow our members to serve those customers how, when, and where they want to be served and allows customers to continue to take advantage of the unique services of local retailers. This is a very exciting day for independent bookselling.”
“Our partnership with the American Booksellers Association is helping to bring e-books technology to independent booksellers and their customers nationwide,” said Chris Palma, manager of strategic partner development for Google Books. “This is just the beginning for us.”
Over the last several years of the life of Barry Hannah, indisputably one of the great writers of our time, the author tried to work on a novel as he also struggled with illness. At one point he realized that this work was molding to the form by which his career was largely characterized, the short story. By his death on March 1 of this year, he had completed four stories, which, combined with a choice sampling from his previous story collections, make up Long, Last, Happy: New and Selected Stories. Another largely unknown piece is a story Hannah wrote when he was around twenty years old, Trek, that, until now, has not appeared in book form. Published by Grove Atlantic, this volume becomes the essential Hannah story collection, with nine stories from Airships and the best from Captain Maximus, Bats Out of Hell, and High Lonesome, carefully selected by his editor at Grove, Amy Hundley. The book is dedicated to Barry and his late wife, Susan, and, by the care and quality of its issuance and its design, may be said to be a loving gift, from Morgan Entrekin and all the staff at Grove Atlantic in honor of the writer they so admired, to us, his devoted readers. Design motifs refer to Airships, with flying jets, a frequent Hannah thematic element, adorning the cream-colored cover with text in red and blue print and an iconic black-and-white photograph of the author. The navy endpapers are beautifully designed, and a couple of ink cartoons by the author appear as end matter lagniappe. With a back cover that carries eleven unassailable blurbs from Amy Hempel, Wells Tower, William Styron, Larry McMurtry, Cynthia Ozick, John Grisham, Sam Lipsyte, Philip Roth, Richard Ford, Charles Frazier, and Thomas McGuane, we happily believe that Long, Last, Happy is a book that will last a very long time. RH
Click here to purchase a copy of Long, Last, Happy: New and Selected Stories.
This fall Square Books is offering its Signed Firsts subscribers a chance to build on their personal libraries with broadsides based upon books selected for the Signed Firsts series. Each broadside will be signed and numbered by the author and likely will feature design elements that refer to the book from which it is excerpted. The broadsides will be printed letterpress in 150 copy editions. These broadsides can be framed or kept in the book for easy storing and collecting. Those subscribers that receive 18 books a year from Square Books will be given 2 free broadsides a year with the opportunity to purchase others at a 25% discount on the retail price. The subscribers that receive 12 books a year will have the opportunity to purchase any of the broadsides at a 20% discount on the retail price.
The first broadside is from John Brandon’s latest novel, Citrus County. This broadside was printed letterpress by critique/strategy in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in an edition of 150, which were signed by John Brandon. Click read more to view a brief film of the making of the Citrus County broadside.
The overflow crowd served as a testament to the sustaining energy and quality of the Oxford literary scene. Those in attendance were some of Oxford’s finest, including fellow-writers Curtis Wilkie, Jack Pendarvis, Ann Fisher Wirth, Ace Atkins, Lee Durkee, Neil White, John T. Edge, John Brandon, Jesmyn Ward, and Tom’s wife, the poet, Beth Ann Fennelly. Also in the crowd was Laura’s husband, David Simon, creator of The Wire and Treme on HBO, with their new baby—in a turquoise tutu. The Ole Miss English Department was represented by several faculty members and Chairman Ivo Kamps, and lots of students, MFAers and otherwise. Also present was the University’s number one reader, Chancellor Dan Jones.
The crowd was not simply big. It had a very friendly, pleasant buzz about it, as if all recognized the happy anticipation of reading a very good book and the achievment of writing it--by a guy we like.
To see photos and listen to the readings from the event please click read more.
Last night a group of us gathered to hear Jay Jennings talk about his just-published book, Carry the Rock: Race, Football, and the Soul of an American City. He was met by a couple of friends from graduate school, a number of Central High School graduates, and the rest of us, curious about this book that creates a brilliant narrative out of layers of dramatic events: the landmark desegregation of Central High School in 1957, the nearly-forgotten 1927 story of Little Rock's John Carter, who was lynched near the site of Central High as it was under construction; and the thrills and agonies that play out through the seasons of the school's football team under legendary coach Bernie Cox.
Beginning next Tuesday, September 28th at 10 am, we will initiate our weekly book chat series, when a Square Books bookseller will present brand new books and the latest news in the book world in twenty minutes or less. All are welcome, the coffee's on the house (and donuts), and you can drop in on any Tuesday. Lyn will be the hostess of this first klatsch -- Off Square Books at 10 am.
Richard said he might even give a book away, and he's never done that. So be there AND be Square!