If you haven’t made your spring break plans, listen up. It’s not exactly a secret that this is an ideal time (March 7 – 14 this year) to visit Oxford. The weather can be glorious, and by virtue of a dramatic population decrease, you pretty much have the place to yourself: traffic is light, restaurant seating is noncompetitive; there are Ole Miss tennis matches Thursday and Friday; Southside Gallery and other Square establishments are open; and the many splendid sites of the town and the University of Mississippi are open regular hours, including the the University Library and its Archives and Special Collections, with its permanent exhibits representing Faulkner and James Meredith, and the current exhibit, “Entertainment Collectors, Authors, and Critics.” A room there is dedicated to the late publisher, Seymour Lawrence, displaying material related to the authors he published – among others, Barry Hannah, Susan Minot, Tim O’Brien, Jayne Anne Phillips, Jim Harrison, and Tom McGuane (more on him in a sec).
The University Museum also features Seymour Lawrence’s modern art collection, as well as the remarkable Robinson Collection of Greek and Roman Antiquities, as well as the works of Theora Hamblett, and a temporary exhibition of the work of African American self-taught artists, not to mention 19th century scientific teaching instruments and, yes, dressed fleas. Those who have been here know this museum is a pleasant walk through Bailey’s Woods to Rowan Oak, William Faulkner’s home, which also will be open regular hours.
But this ain’t the tourism office, so why are we telling you this? Simple: we have three fabulous author events this week, all beginning with an author reception at 5.
Tuesday, March 10 – Kevin Sessums, author of Mississippi Sissy, will be here to talk about his memoir, I Left It on the Mountain, a chronicle of a low life to redemption from the Mississippian who worked with Andy Warhol, was a contributing editor at Vanity Fair and Allure, and interviewed and/or hung out with everyone from Madonna and Courtney Love to Jessica Lange.
Wednesday, March 11 – Jamie Kornegay, Batesville native, Ole Miss grad, owner of Turnrow Books in Greenwood and longtime bookseller here at Square Books and one-time producer of Thacker Mountain, which he pulled out of the ditch more than a time or two, has finally done what he meant to do all along: write a novel. And it is simply great. Called Soil, published by Simon & Schuster, the story features Jay Mize, who has vague notions of a coming apocalypse and seeks to establish a sustainable farm, a place where he can shelter his wife and young son. But a flood and Jay’s building paranoia complicate their lives, and when floodwaters recede Jay finds a body in his field. If you have been missing Larry Brown or William Gay, Jamie is to the rescue.
Thursday, March 12 – Tom McGuane, once published by Seymour Lawrence and a visitor to Oxford and Square Books on a few occasions, but not in a good while – will be here with his splendid new book of stories, Crow Fair, published by Knopf. “…while it’s true that the farther you get from an actual product the better your chances of economic success, I and many of my classmates wanted more physical evidence of our efforts. I had friends who’d trained as historians, literary scholars, and philosophers who were now shoeing horses, wiring houses, and installing toilets. There’d been no suicides so far.” Such are the narrators and characters who populate Tom McGuane’s new book, an assemblage of seventeen stories, many set in the modern West outdoors, something the author – not only a member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters, but also the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame and the National Cutting Horse Hall of Fame – knows about.
And if you can’t make it, you are more than welcome to order signed copies of these and many other books from us.