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Square Books Podcast: Oscar Hijuelos (June 21, 2011)

Pulitzer Prize winning author Oscar Hijuelos stopped by Off Square Books yesterday to read and discuss his new memoir Thoughts Without Cigarettes. Hijuelos is the author of eight novels including The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love, which made him the first Hispanic to win the Pulitzer Prize and was later made into a film. During his reading, as you will hear, Hijuelos discussed the inspiration and process behind writing Mambo Kings. He even played a little guitar in between chapters. After the reading Hijuelos answered questions from the audience and played some more guitar before signing books. Signed copies of Thoughts Without Cigarettes are available here. You can listen to the entire reading below. 

 Oscar Hijuelos podcast 

Oscar Hijuelos plays guitar for Lyn and Richard after his signing. 

Bill Loehfelm stops in Off Square Books...talks THE DEVIL SHE KNOWS

Bill Loehfelm visited Square Books on Wednesday to read from and answer questions about The Devil She Knows, his new girtty crime thriller that features Staten Island barmaid Maureen Coughlin, who is causing a bit of a sensation in the book world. Loehfelm, who is from Brooklyn but now lives in New Orleans, said The Devil She Knows became more about the character than the plot -- he chose Maureen after seeing a young woman dressed in a tuxedo, smoking a cigarette while waiting at a bus stop in New York -- and thought she deserved a story. We expect to hear from this gutsy Irish lass again in his next book, to be set in New Orleans -- but you'll want to meet her now in The Devil She Knows! We hope to see Bill in Oxford again. SLM
Bill has an excellent blog that you can read here
Order signed copies of The Devil She Knows here

15 Great Gift Ideas For Graduates

Finding a good graduation present can be a chore, so we have made a brief annotated list of suggestions -- some are standards and others are new; six are by or about Mississippians; several offer a sort of commencement guidance; and a couple are just for laughs.   We have made a special effort to identify reasonably priced and very nice books.

Kate DiCamillo comes to Oxford and Square Books

Saturday dawned gray and gloomy, but that did not deter Oxford visitors from seeing baseball, softball, Ole Miss graduation -- and Kate DiCamillo!  Over one hundred-fifty of Square Books Jr.'s favorite readers and their parents gathered at Off Square Books to hear Kate DiCamillo read from and talk about her award-winning books for children.  

Ms. DiCamillo, or Kate, as anyone who has met her will feel comfortable calling her, began by reading from the Josette Frank Award winner and Newbery Honor book BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE.  As fond as we are of that book and the movie made from it, hearing Kate read the first chapter was a thrill and seemed even funnier than we remember.

Taking questions from the audience, Kate paraphrased Ray Bradbury in saying that writing a novel is like "...jumping off a cliff and building your wings on the way down."  She added that in writing one of her most recent books, THE MAGICIAN'S ELEPHANT, she learned that one could also, by writing, "..build your own ladder out of the pit."

Her advice to aspiring writers?   "Read, read, read."   What she would say to all young people?   "Read, read, read."    Where she got her ideas and how she started?   "Reading."    She indulged her enthusiastic audience by reading from her Newbery Award winner, THE TALE OF DESPERAUX, and TIGER RISING when asked.  

Kate patiently signed books for everyone who asked, and returned after lunch (she was thrilled to dine at City Grocery) to sign orders for those who could not be there and for Jr. stock.  All  went away happy, hoping she will return to Oxford with her next book, and, more importantly, hoping that she will keep writing her magical stories.  Thank you Kate DiCamillo, and thank you Jennifer Roberts, from Candlewick, for coming, too!

Filmmaker and Author John Sayles comes to Square Books

Filmmaker and author John Sayles read from and discussed his new book, A Moment in the Sun, published by McSweeney's, yesterday at Off Square Books.  The crowd, eager to discuss Sayles' resume of both films and books, listened to the author read two chapters from his new epic novel about the turn-of-the-century, American way of life.  The two chapters Sayles read were just a glimpse into the world he's created in A Moment in the Sun by borrowing from history and extensive amounts of research, which he claimed is what he likes most when writing historical fiction.

After the reading, John Sayles was brief, articulate, and brilliant in talking about why he wrote the book and fielding a host of questions from the audience about the novel and about his many films.  Regarding the inspiration for his film "Passion Fish," he said that Ingmar Bergman's film "Persona" combined with his time working as an orderly in a hospital both served as catalysts. He discussed the Southern setting for his film "Matewan," which seemed to be a crowd favorite, and talked about his book on the making of that film, Thinking in Pictures: The Making of the Movie Matewan.  Before wrapping up the evening and signing everyone's books, Sayles discussed his method of writing versus his method of filmmaking, pointing out their distinct differences. Filmmaking, to paraphrase, is about everything that is revealed and shown to the audience while writing is everything that isn't. A Moment in the Sun is an excellent book and Publisher's Weekly says it "will stand among the finest work on [Sayles'] impressive resume."  Call today for signed copies. DS
 

John Grisham continues his young adult series with Theodore Boone: The Abduction

John Grisham is back with Theodore Boone: The Abduction, the follow-up to Theodore Boone: Kid Lawyer. Just when it seems like life for Theo is back to the status quo, a new legal mystery comes to town--and Theo is the only one who can crack the case. 

"Not since Nancy Drew has a nosy, crime-obsessed kid been so hard to resist." -The New York Times

Tom Franklin Brings Big Book Prize Home

    Tom Franklin’s excellent novel and Square Books bestseller, Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter, got in the running for two major book awards this spring when it was announced as one of six finalists for the Edgar Award and one of five finalists for a prestigious L A Times Book Prize as the best mystery novel of 2010.   Franklin, who lives in Oxford and teaches in the MFA program at Ole Miss, attended the Edgar ceremony April 27, this past Thursday night, then hopped on a plane the following morning in order to attend the LA Times event Friday night.   Beth Ann Fennelly, the poet and Franklin’s wife, was in the store the other day and said to us, of the awards, “I told him not to come home without at least one of them.”  
    To home Tom Franklin triumphantly comes, then, with the L A Times Prize, presented by Attica Locke, who visited us in the summer of 2009 with her award winning first novel, Black Water Rising.   Another winner at the Los Angeles ceremony, for the 2010 Innovator’s Award, are our friends at Powell’s Books, for “cutting edge work to bring books, publishing, and storytelling into the future.”
    Hooray for Tom Franklin and Powell’s Books!

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