On Monday night Ron Borne attracted a large and very friendly hometown crowd for the event that included his book, Beginnings & Ends, a selection of favorite first and last lines in stories by contemporary Oxford writers. A fairly good part of that crowd consisted of the writers themselves -- John T. Edge, Ace Atkins, Larry Wells, Neil White (who is also the publisher), Beth Ann Fennelly, Tom Franklin, Curtis Wilkie, Chris Offutt, John T. Edge, Jim Dees, and the Most Distinguished Writer in Residence, Jere Hoar. Each took a turn at the podium, reading a spot or two of their stuff and some, a bit by others -- Barry Hannah, Larry Brown, Dean Wells, and Willie Morris -- so that the evening was almost wake-ish in fond remembrances of Oxford writers past. In fact, Dr. Borne said something like, "this is the way I hope my funeral will be," didn't he?

The night began with a pitch for Read This! Handpicked Favorites from America's Indie Bookstores, with an introduction by Ann Patchett. This little gem (Coffee House Press, $12 pb) recommends books from booksellers representing twenty-five U.S. bookstores, including a few here at Square Books, and is an excellent little toilet-side reference-book stocking-stuffer, if it's not too early to say so. Then poet-bookseller Travis Smith began reading the essay by Jack Pendarvis (who was home with that cold that seems to be making its rounds in Oxford) that appears in another new bibliobook, My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop (Black Dog & Leventhal, $23.95), containing essays by 82 writers on their favorite bookstores -- Barry Moser on Lemuria, Abraham Verghese on Prairie Lights, Edith Pearlman on Brookline Booksmith, John Grisham on That Bookstore In Blytheville, a really interesting and fun tome. Travis's reading was nearly complete when he was interrupted by cheering from the crowd -- for Jack, who had magically healed and came forward to read his final paragraph. It is a lovely essay.

There followed that complicated book-signing thing where lots of writers are involved, like herding cats. It was a you-had-to-be-there kind of evening, many leaving with a sigh, saying, "Oh, that was fun!" But we didn't know what to say to the person who at one point asked if we reckoned she could get one of Tom Franklin's books by what she called "on a kindle." She was clearly lost.  RH