In Memoriam – J. D. Mark, T Model Ford, Karl Pohrt, Will D. Campbell

We like to think that aging is a phenomenon that makes Square Books “distinguished,” maybe even “venerable,” but it also means that, increasingly, we lose old friends. Recently, two musicians, both of whom appeared on Thacker Mountain on several occasions, passed away.  J. D., or Jim, Mark, was only 43. He was a native of Flint, Michigan, but found a home here where the music was rich and he had something to give to it, playing guitar with a number of bands, most familiarly with Wiley and the Checkmates. We’ll miss his broad smile and friendly countenance, as we will the same of T Model Ford. T Model was a native of Forest, in Scott County, Mississippi. He claimed to be uncertain of his age and reportedly had six wives and 26 children.   He began playing music late but developed a unique style that was discovered by the Fat Possum label. He often played around these parts, with songs such as “Pee-Wee Get My Gun,” “Jack Daniel,” and “She Ain’t None of Your’n,” that just as easily might have been the titles of Larry Brown stories.

       Karl Pohrt died recently at 65, too young for the bright spirit that always burned in Karl, who owned Shaman Drum, a great independent in Ann Arbor, Michigan, that managed to find its identity in the midst of the town where Borders Books was based mainly by selling textbooks for profit, with very large sidelines of poetry, small press books, literary nonfiction, Buddhism, and other typically unprofitable marginalia for which Karl had immense enthusiasm. He came to Oxford a couple of times for the Book Conference, and I was able to visit his store when he and friends invited me to a confab there. Karl was a fierce champion for writers, books, and independent bookstores, a gentle soul with a twinkle in his eye that signaled his ready humor and open friendship.

     And we lost the great Will Campbell, born in Amite County, Mississippi in 1924, who became an important figure in civil rights. He was raised Southern Baptist, became a minister, and found himself unable to reconcile Christianity with the racism that permeated Southern culture of the 1950s and 60s, including in its churches, so he left the church, but not Christ, and grew to embrace desegregation and tolerance at a time when few other whites did. This experience no doubt informed the sensibilities that made him such a good writer. His unforgettable Brother to a Dragonfly was published in 1977, the year I began working in a bookstore in Washington, D. C., and the book became a kind of personal literary totem, as it was for so many other Mississippians and others, as well. We invited Will to Square Books when his first novel, The Glad River, was published, and on April 23, 1982, had our first multiple-author event – for Will; for Joan Williams, whose County Woman had just come out; for Barry Hannah, as he was relatively new to Oxford and it was his birthday; and for Willie Morris, because Willie was always game for any kind of a party.  That was 32 years ago; now, they’re all gone but their words remain. RH

*pictured top to bottom: J. D. Mark, T. Model Ford,
Karl Pohrt (3rd from left) with other great booksellers -- Rick Simonson of Elliott Bay, Paul Yamazaki of City Lights, and Sarah McNally of McNally Jackson Books, and Will Campbell

These Books Now at These Great Prices

GREAT PAPERBACKS FOR ONLY $1

Charles Dickens: His Tradgedy and Triumph by Edgar Johnson
Rebecca West: A Life by Victoria Glendinning
The Thirsty Muse by Tom Dardis
Freedpeople in the Tobacco South by Jeffrey R. Kerr-Ritchie
Red Dust: A Path Through China by Ma Jian
Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant by Anne Tyler
A House in Istria by Richard Swartz
Let's Put the Future Behind Us by Jack Womack
Driving Mr. Albert by Michael Paternitti
Che: The Diaries of Ernesto Che Guevara
Story of My Life by Jay McInerney
Death of a Circus by Chandra Prasad
Right Livelihoods by Rick Moody
The Power of Sympathy by William Hill Brown
The Coquette by Hanna Webster Foster
Drinking, Smoking and Screwing by Sara Nickels
Native in a Strange Land by Wanda Coleman
Midnight Magic by Bobbie Ann Mason
Thomas Wolf: An Illustrated Biography by Ted Mitchell

$2 HARDCOVERS

Lasher by Anne Rice
The Collected Works of W.B. Yeats
The American Idea edited by Robert Vare
The Journal Keeper by Phyllis Theroux
Longitudes and Attitudes by Thomas L. Friedman
Flashback by Nevada Barr
Literary Life by Larry McMurtry
Women, Work & the Art of Savoir Faire by Mireille Guilians
Cheever by Blake Bailey

AND $5 LARGER BOOKS

Making Mischief by Gregory McGuire
American Houses Today by Scott L. Guyon
Carl Gutherz by Marilyn Masler
China Empire and Civilization by Edward Shaughessy
A Passion for Parties by Carolyne Roehm
The Sense of Pleasure by John T. Spike
Lucien Lelong by Jacqueline Demornex
The Power to Heal by Parke Davis
Alabama 24/7
The Art and Mythology of the Da Vinci Code by David Morris
To Live in the New World by Judith K. Major
Shriner's by Lisa Eisner
Television by Michael Winship
Wild Lands for Wildlife by Nat Geo

Off Square Summer Sale

We are reducing inventory by offering hundreds of books for $5, $2, $1, and even 50 cents -- AND we are displaying new shipments of remainders, quality books at bargain prices.

Texas Trial Lawyer To Make Case at Off Square Books


Run, Brother, Run: A Memoir of a Murder in My Family
(Scribner, 26.00) is the newly published book by David Berg that will bring the prominent Houston attorney to Oxford and Off Square Books June 19 at 5 p.m. The author of numerous legal articles, essays, and a previous book, The Trial Lawyer: What It Takes to Win, Berg's memoir unravels the 1968 murder of his older brother by Charles Harrelson, a notorious hit man and father of actor Woody Harrelson, and the miscarriage of justice the surviving family found itself served.  

Written in punches of grief and humor, Run, Brother, Run is "extraordinary," according to Christopher Kelley, writing in the New York Times on June 8. "What is remarkable about the book, though, is Mr. Berg's writing. He elegantly brings to life the rough-and-tumble boomtown that was 1960s-era Houston, and conveys with unflinching force the emotional damage his brother's death did to his family."    

Please join us for this event or order signed copies from Square Books.  -- RH

Oxford Artist's Retrospective Catalog at Square Books



We recently received copies of the beautiful catalog, John Hathorn: A Retrospective ($25), that showcases a representative life work of the artist, who was born and raised in here in Oxford, a town known more for its literary art than its visual art. This may explain why much of John's work contains script or is created in homage to Rilke and Baudelaire. The retrospective comes from an exhibition organized by the Acadiana Center for the Arts in Lafayette, Louisiana, where John has been an art professor for 31 years at the University of Louisiana - Lafayette and a recipient of the University's 2008 Distinguished Professor Award. A graduate of Oxford High School and the University of Mississippi, many here will be happy and proud to see John Hathorn's work in this fine publication, with introductory commentary by Mary Beyt, Darrell Bourque, and Virginia Billeaud Anderson.  RH

Featured Collectibles for Father's Day


A MAN IN FULL by Tom Wolfe
#206 of 250 copies signed in a limited edition in a red cloth slipcase.
Beautiful copy in original shrinkwrap and unoped box. 400


MY READING LIFE by Pat Conroy
1st edition, 1st printing -- Signed on the title page. As new condition. 75


THE LAST GENTLEMAN by Walker Percy
Near fine in fine dust jacket.
First edition, first printing
signed "With thanks and best wishes, June 9, 1996" Walker Percy -- uncommon 1400


THE THINGS THEY CARRIED by Tim O'Brien
First edition. Fine in fine dust jacket as new.
Signed by author on the title page. 350