Thirty minutes after greeting a warm crowd at Off Square Books Thursday, March 12, Tom McGuane sat in a wooden armchair on the stage and read "Casserole," the shortest story in his excellent new collection from Knopf, Crow Fair. Explaining that the story's brevity would allow more time for conversation, he then answered questions: on the difference between directing movies (he was the director of "92 in the Shade" and "Missouri Breaks") and writing fiction, he said he enjoyed directing but that it takes too much time to execute a single idea, and he had "too many other things to do" with fiction; about the short story form, his view is that it is presently enjoying something of a revival, mentioning the number of writers (Maile Meloy, Donald Antrim) as well as some favorites, including Updike, Cheever, and "another Canadian, besides Alice Munro -- Mavis Gallant"; about Barry Hannah, in whose memory Crow Fair is dedicated, he told a funny tale of once being fooled by Hannah in his "jet pilot" personage.
Forty-five minutes later, with a rousing ovation, he signed a lot of books, both old and new, and met with friends, also the old and new. Tom Franklin was able to meet the writer who once called him and left on Franklin's phone a message of praise "I wanted never to erase." Many if not all of us there felt the same way Jere Hoar did, as he told us in a recent message: Today, I'm still enjoying the memory of Tom McGuane's splendid "reading." It was one of the best in my memory. I'm happy to have been there.