Many of you have met Molly Brown in Square Books or around town, or at the reading with her parents, John Gregory and Carrie Brown this past July, and now we have the splendid pleasure of hosting a reading from her first book, winner of the 2016 Lexi Rudnitsky First Book Prize.
"As I write this," Jessica Bruder says in Nomadland, "there are only a dozen counties and one metro area where a full-time minimum wage worker can afford a one-bedroom apartment at fair market rent" in America, where "the dream of a middle-class life has gone from difficult to impossible." Bruder spent several years following—existing herself as—one of the scores of thousands of older Americans who should be living happily in retirement but, because the social security check isn't enough and they mainly can't afford housing, ditch the mortgage or rental and buy an old RV, camper or pick-up, and take to the road in search of seasonal part-time jobs, many of them in the Orwellian warehouses of Amazon. Some are in despair, others liberated, but almost all have no choice. An eye-opening, important and very well-researched and written book.
Mary Miller apparently used her time well while here as the Grisham visiting writer, 2014 – 15, for now, following Small World and The Last Days of California, she has given us a new book of smart, compelling stories. These stories simmer with love, trouble, and sex. As Amelia Gray said, “For anyone who’s ever looked for love in all the wrong places, this shoebox full of beating hearts is for you.”
Signals is a keeper collection of stories from a modern master, twelve new tales combined with eight from his previous books that mostly hew to Gautreaux’s signature material of seemingly plain folk in Louisiana, where the human and natural world come to abundant and colorful display. An early Grisham visiting writer (1996-97), Gautreaux’s splendid two novels, The Missing and The Clearing, along with his excellent stories, clearly mark him as one of our greatest living writers in the South.
Kevin Canty, who has visited Square Books on several occasions and is one of the writers Larry Brown most admired, has published his first novel in many years. The Underworld takes its name literally, from the true story of a fire in a silver mining town whose survivors all were connected in some way to those who perished, a story of the necessity for love in a devastated community, the sort of story that few writers can penetrate and bring to life the way that Canty can.
Born and raised in Alabama and now living in New Orleans, Rodney Jones is the author of eleven books of poetry, including Elegy for the Southern Drawl, a long-time favorite poet at Square Books, and now has created a technical tour de force, with characters and voices coming from nine parts of poetry within the concept of a novel over a time span of fifty years. We are thrilled he will be here with this newest and most ambitious book, appearing at the Book Conference and on Thacker Mountain Radio.
Not many people today are familiar with Major General Fox Conner, John J. Pershing’s chief adviser in WWI. Conner graduated 17th in his class at West Point and became a prominent military intellectual who influenced many of WWII’s greatest leaders. Fewer people still know that Conner was born and raised in nearby Slate Springs, Calhoun County, Mississippi. Early readers of this new biography are very enthusiastic about it.
The author is a career international diplomat and adviser whose first novel, Norwegian by Night, was a brilliant literary thriller set in Scandinavia, with a young boy and his grandpa on the run from a gang of thugs. Miller relies again on his experience and Middle East PhD work to set his new highly engaging novel in Syria, “a suspenseful, character-driven and eerily prescient moral thriller.” Miller is one of few writers whose work well may draw comparison to John LeCarre.
Tupelo native Catherine Lacey, author of Nobody Is Ever Missing, which won her a Whiting Award, will have a new novel out early this summer and for which we are now taking orders entitled The Answers (26.00), from Farrar Straus & Giroux. Until then, you might amuse yourself with this interesting little powder room companion, illustrated by Forsyth Harmon.
Wade is a New Orleans native and sociology professor at Occidental College in Los Angeles who peels back the sensationalism implied in her title to report on what’s actually new and not-so-new on the campus scene.
Stone is a legal scholar (University of Chicago School of Law) who tracks the intersections and undulating movements of sexual mores, religion, and law over the course of American history, giving us a clearer perspective on where we are now, in 2017. Laurence Tribe said “This masterpiece is the rarest of combinations, a page-turner that is also a magisterial font of wisdom.”
Drunks is a timely and important book, a social history of alcoholism in America since its beginnings, illustrated by such characters as the tragic son of John Adams; the Iroquois leader, Handsome Lake, who learned lessons from recovery that he imparted to members of his tribe; Carrie Nation and Prohibition; and two fairly anonymous men, Bill Wilson and Bob Smith, who founded AA. By giving us this entertaining but measured narrative that deftly makes the case for recovery as a liberation movement, Finan ultimately shows how history is at its best when it illuminates the present.
Thirty years after Richard Ford's "My Mother, a Memory" appeared in Harper's (its only publication in the U.S.), the prize-winning author has written a companion piece, "Gone: Remembering My Father," and combined the two into this new book, Between Them. Here we see these two people, and young Richard with them, come to life. "To write a memoir," Ford says, "and to consider the importance of another human being is to try to credit what otherwise might go unremarked—partly by acknowledging that mysteries lie within us all, and by identifying within those mysteries, virtues." It is not quite right to compare Between Them to the remarkable One Writer's Beginnings by Ford's late friend and fellow Mississipian, Eudora Welty, as they are two fairly different kinds of books, with different motivations. But they share much in awareness, wisdom, candor, and tenderness, and in their composition, the very best writing a reader might hope for.
Edan Lepucki's second novel, following California, features a young woman who, trying to find breathing space enough to write a memoir, hires a young nanny, "S," or Esther, an artist, to live in the small guest hovel behind the house and take care of her toddler while also keeping an eye on her mute teenage son. A sometimes comical, psychologically complex and suspenseful story—a family noir—soon has you in its grip, pulling for these souls in the Los Angeles hills.
Mary is a young woman living in New York City when a mysterious ailment causes her to seek treatment she can't afford. In answering a bizarre Craigslist to serve as a job-specific female companion to Kurt—such as Anger Girlfriend, Sleeping Girlfriend, or, in the role Mary accepts, Emotional Girlfriend—The Answers poses unpredictable inquiries to its readers, and Catherine Lacey exceeds the high expectations set by her 2015 first novel, Nobody Is Ever Missing. Join us in welcoming the 2017-18 John and Renee Grisham writer-in-residence for the event for The Answers and its author: Tupelo, Mississippi native Catherine Lacey.