Square Books prepares to close out a record year of author events as we approach Thanksgiving and the holidays.  Mississippian Snowden Wright is here Wednesday, November 20, with Play Pretty Blues (Engine Books, 14.95); Jayne Anne Phillips returns to Square Books on Thacker Mountain Thursday, November 21 to read from her brilliant new novel, Quiet Dell (Scribner, 28.00); and on Friday, November 22, Wright Thompson (who has just appeared in Best American Sports Stories 2013 for an unprecedented eighth consecutive years) will interview Nicholas Dawidoff, sportswriter nonpareil, with his just-released Collision Low Crossers (Little Brown, 28.00), an inside look at the NFL that readers already are comparing to Paper Lion, and saying that it is the best book ever written on professional football.

We will finish November celebrating Small Business Saturday and featuring four guest authors -- who will be booksellers! Sarah Frances Hardy at Jr, and Beth Ann Fennelly, Deborah Johnson, and Ace Atkins will be helping us help you -- and they might sign a book or two of their own. While we always tell publishers we do not do events in December, we will break our rule for Ann Patchett, Joshilyn Jackson, Melissa Townsend, Ken Wooten, and -- how could we resist -- The Grinch. More on that in a later post.  -- R.H.

The 2013 Holiday Catalog is available to view online and is packed with plenty of new releases, signed first editions, Off Square oddities, and toys from Square Books, Jr. Click the cover to open up and take a look.

After the ESPN airing of The Book of Manning -- the story of legendary Mississippians Archie and Olivia Manning and their sons, Cooper, Peyton, and Eli, who together became the first family of American football -- we received scores of inquiries for "the book" of The Book of Manning. There is no such book, though we think it would be a good idea if there were, but there is, or will be by October 29, a 77-minute DVD ($14.95), for which we are now taking orders. 

Narrated by John Goodman, The Book of Manning features revealing interviews with family members, friends, former teammates and coaches as well as photos and home movie footage of Archie and his sons. Through it all, director Rory Karpf explores how a tragedy shaped the course of not only Archie's life, but his family's as well.      

Ole Miss fans may want to consider adding to your order the following recent publications:

The Education of a Lifetime (24.95), the memoir by former Chancellor Robert Khayat (signed copies) which John Grisham called "engaging and unflinching" 
Are You Ready? 100 Years of Family, Friends, and Food (35.00), from the Department of Nutrition and Hospitality Management, University of Mississippi, featuring recipes, photos, and anecdotes
Ole Miss: A Photographic Essay (42.00), the new book with photographs by Kevin Bain, Robert Jordan, and Nathan Latil, with an introduction by Chancellor Dan Jones and Foreword by Jeff McManus, Director of Landscape Services, featuring the most beautiful college campus in America
For The Love of Oxford (14.00), the 2014 calendar with illustrations by Janie Davis
Where Do They Go on Game Day: The Story of the Squirrels Who Live in the Grove (14.95), the charming new children's book by Laurie G. Fisher

Sycamore Row by John Grisham (28.95), the new suspense novel out October 22 Signed Copies

The Tilted World (25.99), by Tom Franklin and Beth Ann Fennelly, the husband-wife University of Mississippi faculty members, whose novel set during the 1927 Mississippi flood is drawing rave reviews. Signed copies
Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey, (40.00), the great new cookbook by James Beard Award-winning chef and restauranteur John Currence, of City Grocery, Big Bad Breakfast, Boure, and Snack Bar fame. Rich with interesting, fun anecdotes and food lore, with about 130 recipes. Signed copies

shipping: $3 for The Book of Manning, $8 for two or more items. Please refer to your order as Rebel Special.

No one who was in Fulton Chapel for the 1995 Oxford Conference for the Book will ever forget the appearance on stage of Pat Conroy, and lined up beside him, his editor, his agent, his publicist, his high school English teacher, and his father, Donald Conroy, the model of LtCol Bull Meechum, or "The Great Santini." The unforgettable moment that caused the audience to gasp, audibly, occured when Pat Conroy mentioned he had an announcement to make, news that made him "very happy," then saying he had just learned that his father -- standing nearby -- was terminally ill with cancer.

Seventeen-plus years later, in conjunction with a brief tour on behalf of his new book, The Death of Santini, Pat Conroy will return to Fulton Chapel on the campus November 1, 2013. Throughout Conroy's distinguished and dynamic writing career -- The Water Is Wide, The Lords of Discipline, My Reading Life, South of Broad, Beach Music, The Prince of Tides, and My Losing Season, among others -- he has often circled back to the love and the demons of his family, where "the ties of blood can both strangle and offer succor." In writing and publishing The Death of Santini, Pat Conroy has said that he "must examine the wreckage one last time."

Beth Ann Fennelly, Tom Franklin, and John Currence will be the featured guests to be feted October 1 at The Powerhouse.

October 1 is the national publication date for Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey, the first book by City Grocery's James Beard Award-winner John Currence. October 1 is also the national publication date for The Tilted World, the first novel to be published by the husband-wife co-author team of Beth Ann Fennelly and Tom Franklin, both of whom are on the University of Mississippi faculty.

The party begins at 6 p.m. and will feature food, drinks, music, fun and comments from our celebrated guests, with introductory remarks from Mayor Pat Patterson and Chancellor Dan Jones.


Sponsored by: Andrews & McMeel, William Morrow, City Grocery Group, Square Books, and the Yoknapatawpha Arts Council. Call 662.236.2262 for further information or to order books.

Check out this video by Joe York of John Currence talking about Pickles, Pigs & Whiskey.

Ree Drummond -- known to Food Network followers and her legion of fans as the Pioneer Woman -- came to Off Square Books on Monday, September 23, and close to 300 people waited to meet her and get books signed. Many brought children and babies, as the Pioneer Woman is all about family and children, especially, and there was a lot of picture taking and happy visiting going on.

The Pioneer Woman has a new children's book about Charlie the Ranch Dog, Charlie Goes to School, and she spent the morning at Lafayette Elementary, where the children and the teachers really took to her. But her "bread and butter" are the books in the Pioneer Woman Cooks series -- Recipes From an Accidental Country Girl and Food From My Frontier. We did not have enough books to get signed extra stock, but we think we may have some signed bookplates for her new book, out October 29, Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays.

Ree really seemed to like Oxford and the Ole Miss campus, and we hope to see her again soon. A mother of triplets brought us a delicious pound cake to thank us for the event. Now that's the kind of author we love, and a happy ending to a very nice event. RH

Pictured above are Cody Morrison, Lyn Roberts, Richard Howorth, with a group of University of Mississippi MFA students (left to right, Jessica Comola, Michael Shea, Joe Zendarski, and Virginia Henry) surrounding Denis Johnson upstairs at Square Books Tuesday evening, September 24. The prize winning author of Tree of Smoke and Train Dreams was in town to do a reading on campus the following day, and admitted that he had not signed books in a bookstore "probably in three decades." Pleasant, personable, engaging with the students, he was asked about advice for writers and instantly replied, "Never get a job." He also said, when queried about writing short stories, that he did not write them, and that Jesus' Son "just ended up that way." His reading in Bondurant Hall at Ole Miss was packed, and Denis Johnson delivered. RH