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!
Singer/Songwriter and Oxford favorite, Alejandro Escovedo, stopped by Off Square Books Tuesday afternoon, September 14, to play some songs and talk about his friend Larry Brown before playing later that night at Proud Larry's. Off Square Books was packed with fans and friends of Alejandro to enjoy this rare, candid performance. He and Larry were close friends drawn together by their love of music and writing and the processes of creating both. Alejandro's latest record, Street Songs of Love (which we have at Off Square Books), pays homage to Larry's home in Tula, Mississippi with his song aptly titled "Tula" along with other great songs featuring Bruce Springsteen, among others, as guest musician. You can listen to Alejandro's full performance by clicking below.
Eugene Marten, following Alejandro's performance, read from his latest novel published by Tyrant Books, Firework. Michael said of Firework in the latest Dear Reader that, "Marten masters a world of blue-collar minutiae with spare, striking prose and meticulous detail, a breakout achievement that also tackles issues of gender, class, race, identity and family." Eugene's reading can be heard by clicking below.
Sandra Beasley made a big impression during her stint as poet in residence at Ole Miss this summer. She befriended many of us in her short time here, and, with her stunning book of poems, I Was The Jukebox (Norton, 24.95, signed firsts available here) having been recently published, we discovered her work at the same time we got to know her. Her visit culminated in a reading at Off Square where she was introduced by Beth Ann Fennelly to a room crowded with students, faculty, and townspeople, and, at the close of the event, was presented with a beautiful broadside made by Jan Murray. The broadside has been produced in a 100-copy limited edition, numbered and signed by the poet and the artist, and is now available from Square Books for $20.
Click read more to view photos of the broadside.
One might believe, with the current popularity of Marley and Me, that man-and-dog memoir is a new genre. However, there is a great deal of wonderful writing that preceded Marley about canine companionship. One such was My Dog Skip, the moving tribute by Willie Morris, which went on to achieve even greater fame once it was adapted into a movie. Willie Morris himself, gave his book that title in homage to a book published in the mid-1960s called My Dog Tulip. In it, the distinguished British author and editor J.R. Ackerley recounts his relationship with Tulip, an Alsatian (what I believe we would call a German Shepherd). Mr. Ackerley, already a middle-aged bachelor when he came into possession of Tulip, lovingly and humorously recalls his sixteen years with her in what remains, more than forty years later, one of the finest examples of canine-man literature.