Interview with Michael Garriga

We had the pleasure of getting to know Michael Garriga when he came by Lemuria last month to sign his new collection of stories, The Book of Duels. Jana Hoops, a reporter for the Clarion-Ledger, managed to snag Michael for an interview.

This interview was conducted for publication in The Clarion-Ledger newspaper in Jackson, Mississippi, as part of an ongoing series about Mississippi authors. A portion of this interview appeared in The Clarion-Ledger March 23, 2014. No portion of this article may be used without permission.

Mississippi native Michael Garriga – and most of his 100-plus first cousins – grew up on the state’s eclectic and temperamental Gulf Coast. An enormous, raucous bunch, the family is still making its mark along the state’s southern tip. Today he and his family live near Cleveland, Ohio, where he teaches creative writing in the English department at Baldwin Wallace University near Cleveland, Ohio.

duels

What people (teachers, other writers, etc.) or experiences influenced you to become a writer?

When I attended Ole Miss, I had the fortune of living next door to Barry Hannah, a tall-teller like my own folks. I didn’t know who he was. He was sober at the time and I just thought he was a regular old maniac. Then I took his class and everything changed. He was crazy but also kind and considerate and empathetic and sweet. I was starving and he’d feed me apples from his back yard and tell me wild stories of his youth. He told me don’t strive to be adequate or normal, be humble but not a bootlicker. He gave me inspiration and the drive and courage to sit in front of that blank screen, non-cowardly, look it head on, and talk to it. When I heard he died, I wept like a widow for a week. He was my second dad. In fact, when my dad met him, my dad called him “professor” and Barry, without a flinch, called him “doctor”—my dad who didn’t finish junior high—and so a relationship of respect was formed and sustained. Barry told me to not be scared, the same things my dad said to me. To work hard like Satan was on my back. To do things, any things: do, do, do. He taught me the word mattered and that to write was worth a grown man’s time.

I also adored Larry Brown, with whom I had many drinks. I’ve worked with Richard Bausch, Paul Griner, Mark Winegardner, Robert Olen Butler, Julianna Baggott, and many, many others.

Tell me about your life, professional and otherwise, now.

I have two beautiful baby boys, better than any two baby boys in America today, I guarantee, because my wife, Megan, is a gorgeous Kentucky woman. She teaches literacy to the college kids here in Berea, Ohio, and so too to our boys. They are strong and handsome. And she is too. I teach in Ohio at a really wonderful university—Baldwin Wallace University. My colleagues are sharp and sweet, my students able and kind, and the weather’s horrible. It’s a great private school, and I love it here. However, it’s way different than the South. I love teaching Southern Lit, because the students and I get into great debates about stereotypes, what they think of us, what we think of them, and what’s the truth. It ain’t easy, but it’s fun.

What is “The Book of Duels” all about? It’s a unique topic for a book!

“The Book of Duels” has 33 short stories, each comprised of three separate dramatic monologues given in the final seconds before an ultimate confrontation. Taken together they create a multi-perspective narrative. There are three perspectives because I learned in researching this book that, for a duel to be legal, you had to have a witness; hence, the third, different, point of view character was born. Plus, I love the idea of the triptych, the holy three. Examples of the duels in the book are a cockfight, Cain and Able, and then a joust, Don Quixote and the Windmill, and a bullfight – we were living in Spain at the time.

The book is described as “flash fiction.” Please explain what that means.

 I often use the term “flash fiction” to describe these works because of the layers of association: firing a pistol (as in most of the stories); a flash in the pan (referring to when a pistol misfires and also to those people quickly forgotten); flash forward and flash backward (two narrative strategies that engage the reader at the emotional level); the speed and brevity of these monologues; and the flash of an epiphany or a moment of yearning in the characters, like a flashbulb going off. That is, Flash Fiction, to me, connotes a moment when characters’ desire for self-knowledge and self-awareness dovetails with their epiphany of who they are. In one intense moment, who they are, at the deepest level, is revealed or made apparent to themselves or to the readers. I also use the word “flash” because these stories don’t fit nicely into any one genre. Are they dramatic monologues or short short stories? Are they poetry or fiction? They’ve been published as both. And they are truly hybrids.

How did you research “The Book of Duels?”

For each story I tried to embed myself in the historical situation, reading not only history books, but also books written at the time of the event to better gather the language. . . and to learn about the zeitgeist of the time and the slang—the foods, the politics, and the terrain of the place and time. . . . For a small moment in time, I was truly engaged with these people—their obsessions became mine. And, and I guess, in turn, I put mine on them.

Are there other writers whose influences we could find in this book?

I have read an awful lot of Faulkner. I don’t know if my work speaks to his except for my long-winded tendencies. The duels often contain a lot of playfulness and dark humor, which comes mainly through the poets I read: Jennifer L. Knox, Doug Cox, David Kirby, Maurice Manning, and Frank Giampietro, who edited many of these duels. I see the King James Bible in several of these stories, as well as Robert Olen Butler’s books of flash fiction. Barry Hannah’s work also had a profound influence on me: the illogical leaps, the playfulness, the drugs, the sex, and the general madness. The Drive-by Truckers created the book’s “soundtrack.” They’re among my favorite storytellers; they actively court the other Point of View. Their language skills are mind-blowing, the best puns ever. I use several of their lines as epigraphs.

Tell me about the illustration of the book.

These illustrations, which I love, came about because of an early editor, Ben Barnhardt. He solicited the book after having read a couple of published duels. He said he had a pal in Minneapolis—Tynan Kerr—who would be perfect for the book. TK liked the stories and started working on them. Man, he was fast: he had vision…and he has skill. His work is amazing. I saw the first four or five drawings, and Milkweed Editions began asking about the cover of my book, and I said, “Whatever Tynan sees.” And I was right. That cover is, to me, sexy. I love it. I thank Tynan…his vision and his skill and insight.

Jacket (11)What are some other interests that you enjoy pursuing when you aren’t writing, helping your students learn to write, or reading what someone else has already written?

Seriously, keeping up with Megan and raising two boys—while teaching a full load and writing—is enough. That said, I like shooting skeet and drinking with men way older than me at VFW or DAV clubs, where men have things to share and not be scared to do so; it is more interesting than almost anything Shakespeare, who I love, could aspire to. I also enjoy cooking.

What will your next book project tackle – anything in mind at this point?

Yes, I’ve written a manuscript entitled “Loosh.” It’s a Southern Noir, concerning the Biloxi beach wade-ins of 1959 (staged to integrate the Mississippi Gulf Coast beaches). I’ve imagined the forces behind it on both sides and it should be ready for an agent in the next month.

Since you are a creative writing instructor, what are some suggestions you’d give would-be writers to embrace and/or avoid?

Seriously, don’t condescend to your readers: Treat them as if they are 10 years older than you, at least as well educated if not better, better read than you, and not nearly as much of a prude. Don’t talk down. Talk up. They expect as much out of art, and you should demand it, too.

By Jana Hoops

Written by Lemuria

All the Walls Are Brown

As a resident awesome person at Lemuria, you may have noticed my absence. Or maybe (probably) you haven’t. Whatever the case may be, I have not been fired or expelled from this earth. I have been at ARMY, specifically, Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport Louisiana. For the past six weeks, I have been working my way through days and days of classroom and flight line learning in pursuit of becoming more versed and comfortable in my job. I have learned one thing above all else: All the walls are brown.
A military installation is a void of creativity. All the streets are clean. All the people smile. All the cars stop for pedestrians. All the grocery carts are returned, and seriously all the walls are brown.

FLASHBACK

It (t)was the summer of 2007 and I was waist deep in mud, and self-delusion. I was going to be an American Airman, and I was going to save lives. Two weeks into basic training, after the uniform, mess hall, and haircut became intertwined with my being, I noticed something off about everything. I was being yelled at like I’m sure you’ve seen in the movies, but everyone was dialing it in. It was their job to yell at me and tell me I was worthless, etc. There was something behind all that repetition and monotony and I knew they felt what I felt. Boredom.

END FLASHBACK

There I was again bored, but it was different from basic training. I was bored because I was choosing to be bored. I was reading about hyper realistic self-aware characters that were just as bored as I was. Ask yourself how many bad decisions have you made to end up wherever it is you are. I was in Shreveport Louisiana surrounded by buildings that made everything look like someone placed the Early Bird Instagram filter over my eyes. I needed something strange and daring: something not afraid to hurt anyone’s feelings. I needed something weird. (see what I did there?)

Jacket (10)

The Weirdness by Jeremy Bushnell is pretty weird. I know that sounds redundant and just plain unhelpful but honestly that’s the best way I can describe the book. Yes, it is smart and funny and expertly paced but it is weird. The book follows an aspiring writer and actual sandwich maker, Billy Ridgeway. He’s your typical Brooklyn, NY artistic dweller chalked full of potential (he thinks) waiting on his chance to prove everyone (actually everyone) wrong. After one of his worst days in recent memory, he wakes up to a very well dressed, well-spoken gentlemen in his living room. What this man offers him is a chance. Now, if any of you haven’t seen the EXCELLENT Ghost Rider starring Nicholas Cage go and do that now, because this book is basically the sequel. Go do that now and come back.

nicolas cage se parte de risa en ghost rider

Okay so you know not to make deals with the devil now right? Well ole Billy boy didn’t. What follows is a story written for people like me. People that are just bored with the “To be expected.” Billy is a character that surprises, not because he’s a hero or a fiction staple, but because he is legitimately his own person. A person that exists in a world rather than a character used as a device to further a plot or an **cough cough** agenda. This book is the classic pick me up. Jeremy Bushnell has woven together a great urban fantasy that kept me until the last page. This is an excellent first novel that deserves some eyes and attention.

The Weirdness by Jeremy Bushnell is available now

 

andreblog

Written by Andre

You Were Allowed to See the Holy

When Kevin Powers’ debut novel, Yellow Birds, arrived on our shelves, Austen wouldn’t stop ranting and raving about it. I read it to shut him up, but truth be told, the book shut me up too. (You can read his blog here)

A Michener fellow, Kevin Powers studied poetry and fiction, and it shows in his work—stunning prose and poetry with a good story. It’s the best of both worlds.

 I had reservations about Powers’ poetry (What if it was horrible? What if he should have just stuck with fiction?) because, lets be honest here: poetry is not everyone’s cup of tea, and even if it is, poetry readers are a pretty picky bunch.

But Powers does something on the page that is rare; he makes us experience the speaker’s emotions. They aren’t just real, they are us (and not just the speaker— we’re the young republicans with popped collars, the boy in the dusty velour suite, the pretty girl at the Fourth of July celebration).

Letter Composed During a Lull in the Fighting

Letters Composed During a Lull in the Fighting follow an unnamed speaker through his return from Iraq and reintegration into society. We learn about his childhood, his mother’s pond, his fear and anxiety and regret.

 

Sometimes, when the wind blows so certainly

you feel that it is spring, regardless of the season,

there is no cause to comment on it. It goes,

and if it passes over a child

in a carriage at the end of the sidewalk,

you would be forgiven for not noticing

the one moment in our life

you were allowed to see the holy.

 

The poems accuse the reader. He is not trying to shock us with accounts of the terror on the front—as was the case with WWI poets—nor honoring the bravery of his comrades like 19th century poets. He is not cursing the “establishment/government/man.” The war in Power’s poems is not the result of a tyrannical dictator nor about war crimes. Rather, we are all standing accused. We are accused not of violence or arm-chair criticism. Rather we are accused of being human. Of having fear and shame and responsibility. We are guilty of not being dead.

The poems are not so much about war, but about our own insignificance. In war and peace, overseas and here, we don’t’ matter except to ourselves.

 

Written by Adie

INVISIBLE CHILDREN SUPPORTERS NEED TO READ THIS BOOK…

I must confess, I am a sucker for a good book jacket and when I really think about it, I would bet that about 75% of the time that is what lures me into picking up a book.

Susan Minot Thirty GirlsWith this being said, I was perusing Lemuria’s newest books two weeks ago and the cover of Susan Minot’s newest novel, Thirty Girls, enticed my eyes.  I began to thumb through it because I was familiar with Minot’s previous works, such as Evening.  Soon I discovered that I must have this book for a variety of reasons.  Honestly, Thirty Girls hit a personal chord with me as soon as I read the inside jacket synopsis:

“Esther is a precocious Ugandan teenager who is abducted from her Catholic boarding school by Joseph Kony’s rebels and, along with twenty-nine of her classmates, forced to witness and commit unspeakable atrocities in the Lord’s Resistance Army.”

Now, let me just start with the name that hit me first:  Joseph Kony.  Joseph Kony and I go way back.  Actually, I have known Kony since 2003.  I first heard of his ruthless, power hungry, havoc-filled, and sadistic behavior when I was a freshman in college.

joseph-kony-wiki

Time for a little history lesson:  in Kony’s attempt to form his own centralized government, a war began that has now spanned over fourteen years in Uganda; and eventually Kony’s men started to flee.  Kony had no other choice but to go to small villages, kill copious amounts of people, and those that remained he would enlist as soldiers.  For example, Kony would line children up.  These children would be as young as four and could be old as fifteen (still impressionable).  Kony would go down the line, one by one, asking each child if he would join his army.  If the child refused, a soldier would shoot him point blank.  The next child in line would witness this, have the same question asked, and would hopelessly join.  The girls who were abducted would become “camp girls” for the older soldiers.  The girls would be defiled and beaten.  When a girl was allowed to leave due to a trade or exchange or escaped, she would try to return home.  Yet, upon returning home she would find that her parents and village did not want anything to do with her due to her being “unclean.”  These girls with nowhere to go would often commit suicide, go back to the army camps, or live their lives in exile.

You and I were going about our ordinary lives as these events were taking place.  Now let us flash-forward to 2003.  A group called Invisible Children was at that time comprised of three people:  Jason Russell, Bobby Bailey, and Laren Poole.  In the spring of 2003 Russell, Bailey, and Poole traveled to Africa to document the War in Darfur.  Instead, they changed their focus to the conflict in northern Uganda, Africa’s second longest-running conflict after the Eritrean War of Independence.  They began to focus on the abduction of children who are used as child soldiers by Joseph Kony and his Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and made a documentary.   People all over the world became aware of Kony.  The only things that mattered were saving these children and abolishing Joseph Kony.  (You are probably wondering where in the world I am going with this but I promise I will piece all of it together.)

I want to focus on another name:  Esther Akello. Esther Akello, one of the lives the novel Thirty Girls follows, has experienced and witnessed horrors that no pre-teen girl should ever be forced to endure.  Now, she is striving to adapt in a rehabilitation center.  Esther, like many of the girls, has become unfeeling as her mind struggles to handle what she has been forced to undergo.

“How were our days? We searched for food. We gathered vine leaves and cooked them. We ate cassava leaves, simsim, boiled sorghum. We carried the radio, carried water, and were always thirsty…”

Susan Minot’s description in explicit and direct detail, allows Esther to recount the ritualized rapes and sometimes impregnation, the beatings, the dehumanizing of these previously wholesome girls. The story haunts the reader and helps them become aware of the horrors that only Joseph Kony could enact.

Having known about Invisible Children and attending the numerous events that the organization held for the abducted children, I was immediately reminded of another child like Esther:  Grace.  Grace, like Esther, was abducted when she was only ten years old.  At thirteen she was forced to be a sex slave for a rebel commander 40 years older.  By the time she was sixteen, she managed to escape the bush only to find out that she was pregnant.  I had to read this book and I needed to know what would happen to Esther.  I could not disconnect the story of Grace from Esther’s.

Yet, Esther’s is only one part of the story.  The other interweaving story line focuses on the character Jane Wood, who struggles to know what she wants out of life.  Jane, an American writer, meets Lana while working together in London on a film set.  Lana, a native of Kenya, extended an open invitation to come and visit and Jane, needing something new and exciting, took the offer.  Jane comes to Africa to write about the horrors that are occurring in Uganda. Immediately through Minot’s vivid imagery, the reader is taken to a different part of Africa, even though atrocities are occurring only a few hours away.  Jane meets Harry.  Harry is an incalculably confident twenty-two year old.  Jane is fifteen years older than Harry and falls for him instantaneously and quickly becomes inseparable from his side.

Minot does a brilliant job in developing the characters of Esther and Jane.  I even might go as far to say that they are on the same spectrum.  Esther, who starts the story, is broken and a part of her has been taken away or murdered.  She seems to vastly differ from Jane.  Yet as the story progresses, we see a change:  the roles of Esther and Jane reverse.  Jane becomes the one who has to deal with an incredible tragedy and a piece of her dies along with her hopes and dreams.  Esther, on the other hand, begins to heal and truly understand what it is to live.

We find hope in Minot’s newest novel.  Hope that we, as readers, need to be reminded of every now and then in our busy lives.  We can rebuild from tragedy, and we can arise stronger like Esther Akello.

Written by Laura

To Roast and Toast

Jacket (1)
Available at Lemuria on March 18!

01-small-town-big-appetite-grocery-0314-lgnLet’s talk about the B.T.C. old fashioned grocery in Water Valley, MS. When my husband Daniel and I lived in Water Valley right after we got married, the B.T.C. was our go-to place for fresh produce, local meat cuts, and creamy, scrumptious cheese (you delicious dill Havarti, you, I dream of you nightly). In the back of the small building is an eatery ruled over by the grand and mighty chef Dixie Grimes and is populated on any given morning with several very, very old men eating grits. Dixie teamed up with B.T.C. owner Alexe van Beuren and together they decided to chronicle the incredible recipes used daily to feed Water Valley’s hungry townspeople. (You should read about Alexe and the B.T.C. here and here)  I am SO excited about this cookbook. Excited enough that when my coworker Lisa heard that I was a little obsessed with B.T.C. and asked me to write a blog about it I not only said yes! yes! a thousand times yes! I also promised to cook from it and write about that too. This blog had humble beginnings, I promise. As most things do in my life though, it quickly spiraled into a bigger-than-intended project, which is why I now present you with this full-fledged foodie extravaganza.

Picture it in your mind: roasted pork tenderloin, roasted fennel mashed potatoes, baked fresh green beans with mushrooms, and wine, wine, wine. I chose these recipes from the cookbook because first and foremost, they looked the easiest. Look, I’m not a natural when it comes to cooking. My sweet husband started the battle early by hitting the grocery store before I got home from work and then at 7:30 it was show time. I will say that I had way too many irons in the fire, but it all turned out beautifully, despite us not owning a roasting rack. I forgot to take a picture of our poor man’s solution to the lack of roaster but suffice it to say, I will be deep cleaning my oven when I get home from work today.

The recipes were wonderfully easy to follow, which for me is super important, and they used ingredients that I didn’t have to Google to figure out what they were. I mean the Barefoot Contessa is great and all and I want her to adopt me, but usually when I read her recipes I end up thinking, “wait, what is a wheatberry?” Dixie and Alexe have mixed together the perfect combination of finesse and accessibility that can make not-so-great cooks like myself feel like they really accomplished something delicious. Next up on the list: That chicken and asparagus casserole and some of their famous fried pies. Ooh! And that roasted pear and zucchini soup. 

We had a few friends over to help us with the feast, and boy am I glad we invited them. The yield on those recipes should have read “not just you and your husband”. I decided to go all Pioneer Woman and catalog my culinary journey through photographs, so here are too many of them…

Oh wait! Before you look at the pictures, one more thing. The B.T.C. grocery in Water Valley is, in my opinion, the heartbeat of that little town. I want you guys to buy this cookbook because the recipes are amazing and it’s full of stories of Southern revival, but I also want to raise awareness about this amazing business. If you’re ever in the area, stop by, tell them I’m missing them, and pick up a fried pie and a bit of town gossip on your way out the door.

photo 1

Daniel in our matchbox kitchen. It is as small as it looks, and yes, we tripped all over each other and also the dog all night long.

 

 

photo 2

So these were the hit of the night. After everyone’s plates were clean, we basically just polished these off straight out of the casserole dish. We are so classy.

 

photo 3

Get in my belly potatoes! True story, I had never cooked with fennel before. It’s a giant bulb-like thing! Who knew?

photo 3

The boys! You can’t tell in this photo, but David (in the purple) has a giant, regal lynx on his shirt. I’m a big fan of that kind of thing.

 

photo 4

We ate excessive amounts of cheese. Shameful amounts. No apologies! YOLO!

 

photo 5

No meat in the history of ever photographs well, but here are the delicious pork tenderloins. Go forth! Roast the loins!

 

photo 5

Here’s a picture of my cat sitting in my lap like a little old man. I know this picture isn’t pertinent, but who doesn’t love a good silly cat photo?

photo 4

My view of the bounty (cheese). I feel like this picture describes the evening pretty well, because the wine was flowing all night. We even tried our hand at toasts, and by “we”, I mean I was the only one cheesiest enough to do it. I think I used the phrase “sticks closer than a brother” which was probably weird for everyone else.

 

 

Written by Hannah

Bee Donley: poet and friend

I wrote the following review for the Clarion-Ledger. It is to appear in Sunday’s paper. We are ecstatic to host Bee Donley for her sophomore book of poetry and we hope you all come out this Saturday, March 8th, at 2 p.m.!

bee

In time for her 90th birthday, Bee Donley’s second poetry collection, Mostly Mississippi, interweaves memoir and narrative in verse. Ms. Donley, a retired Jackson English teacher, writes with a rare, Southern grace. She is polite yet unflinchingly truthful; in short, she writes the way she lives.

Divided into two sections, Mostly Mississippi covers the broad sweep of her life, both the past and the present. In some instances, they exist simultaneously in a Mississippi “whose ghosts are watching.” Ms. Donley allows us a glimpse into the past. She mourns the changes. “The present is heartbreaking to me . . . Progress cannot obliterate the natural order or the memory of another time.”

If at first the poems seem romanticized ruminations on the past, Ms. Donley’s heartbreaking and unsentimental portrayals of aging give a sharp veracity to the collection. She writes, “Now as I walk the nursing home corridor with my walker/I must remember to lift high my legs . . . I round the judging ring and head for review.”

Jeff Allred, a former student, remembers, “Bee taught me plenty, too, but thinking back, I find myself focused on qualities not quantities. She teaches things you won’t pick up elsewhere: how to mount enough tension to swing a partner without horsing her, to rock heels in your AARP days, to ferry a conversation across while not burning popovers, to figure out how seriously to take Faulkner’s residues of romanticism. To say she’s ‘last of a breed’ (or whatever nostalgic phrase) would be true, but it would miss the way a teacher like Bee leaves a little durable something with every student and loved one as a seed for later, unpredictable growth.” Ms. Donley accomplishes on the page what she also did in the classroom. She teaches us unexpected lessons.

Bee Donley will be at Lemuria Saturday, March 8th, at 2 p.m for a signing and reading.

Written by Adie
natchezburning

Greg Iles: Dear Readers

Thanks to HarperCollins, we have a great letter from Greg Iles about the struggles of writing Natchez Burning.  We look forward to his new book, which publishes on Tuesday, April 29th, and don’t forget, you can order a signed copy here! Greg Iles will sign at Lemuria Tuesday, April 29th from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Dear Readers,

All my life I heard, “It’s the journey, not the goal.” I never believed it. I believed thenatchezburning obsessive pursuit of dreams was worth any sacrifice—even time. Most of us go through life with our eyes averted from mortality. Where death is concerned, ignorance is truly bliss. Illness forces some to face loss early, yet when I had a health scare in my thirties, it only pushed me harder to sacrifice the present to provide for the future. Then, two years ago, as I pulled onto Highway 61 near Natchez, a truck slammed into my car door at 70 m.p.h. Shattered bones make a hell of a wake-up call, but when you tear your aorta, as I did, you truly shake hands with death. After eight days in a coma, I learned that I would lose my right leg but not my life. More important, my brain was unhurt, my mind intact.

I could still write.

But what now? Should I abandon all commerciality and try a purely literary novel? Or should I stop writing altogether and start living in the present? For a few days I considered both. Then I realized that throughout my career. I’ve written novels dealing with the most traumatic events human face: murder, war, sexual abuse, kidnapping, racial strife, even the Holocaust. I’ve explored the “old verities” Faulkner talked about—love, honor, pity, pride, compassion, and sacrifice. Reading the flood of reader mail that came in after my accident, I realized that the best thing I could do was to accept the past, forget the future, and keeping writing about “the only thing worth writing about—the human heart in conflict with itself.” As my fellow Mississippian Morgan Freeman said as Red in Stephen King’s The Shawshank Redemption: “Get busy livin’, or get busy dyin’.”

Sincerely,

Greg Iles

Written by Lemuria

Susan Minot and Lorrie Moore

We are so excited to have two amazing authors coming to the store on March 27 at 5:00!

Lorri Moore BarkLorrie Moore, winner of the O’Henry award and an old favorite of ours, will be here to read from and sign her new collection of short stories, Bark.

Susan Minot Thirty GirlsJoining her will be Susan Minot (also an O’Henry award winner!) for her new novel, Thirty Girls. Both of these talented women are old friends of the bookstore and we think so highly of their work that we have chosen these two books to be our February and March First Editions Club picks.

We want to make this event a real party, so if you chose any event to attend this season, let this be the one! Keep your eyes peeled for more posts and updates about the event, because I have a feeling it’s only going to get more exciting. We’d love for you to join us in a giant hangout session with these two amazing ladies. Mark it on your calendars!

Written by Kelly

Amy Greene and Long Man

Four years ago (and before my bookselling days) I realized I had a problem: every time I stopped by Lemuria I left with a book (or several).

I was steep in book debt.             book debt = unread books > read books

And so, when I heard about the First Editions Club, it sounded like a marvelous idea. One book each month, chosen for me by book-reading experts. The chances of me stumbling upon a dud of a book were dramatically decreased when someone else chose the book for me.

Amy GreeneAnd thus began several years of good reading: Lauren Groff, Jim Shepherd, Kevin Wilson, Karen Russell. The list goes on.

My one regret was that I signed up too late to have Amy Greene’s Bloodroot arrive in a brown box on my doorstep. I don’t know why I wanted to read Bloodroot; maybe it was the possibility of magic and mystery and family secrets all hanging out together. Maybe it was just the cover. The book was a debut novel with a smallish first printing, and by the time of the book signing, Lemuria wasn’t reserving any first editions for anyone who wasn’t in the First Editions Club. Needless to say, I missed it — the book, the signing, everything. And that’s why I signed up.

Long ManIronically, now I am part of the team that ships out the First Editions Club (FEC) book each month. After the author visits the store and signs your first edition, we protect the jacket in a mylar cover, wrap the book in brown paper and then newspaper, box and ship it.

This March, Amy Greene will be back to read and sign her new book, Long Man, which just came out this week. While we’re not picking her new one for First Editions Club, those of you who are in the club should definitely pick one up. I’m not going to miss her this time. Come and join us Wednesday, March 5th at 5 PM.

Written by Adie

Jackson poet Richard Boada reads at Lemuria

If you like
– Latin American Communists
– plants with big, leafy palms
– volcanoes
– wide and unruly rivers
– natural disasters
– cypress swamps
– things in jars on shelves

then you should read Richard Boada’s The Error of Nostalgia.

The Error of NostalgiaI first met Richard Boada at a Millsaps Arts and Lecture event. I use the word “met” lightly — he was standing in front of me in line. I didn’t know who he was at the time, but through careful observation (i.e. eavesdropping), I learned that he was a poet. And not only was he a poet, but he was finishing up his first book.

The first night I took Boada’s The Error of Nostalgia home, I read it in one sitting. And then reread it. The collection is other-worldy in its globe-spanning scope. The poems have a bit of magic in them (think Gabriel Garcia Marquez in verse). They are as vibrant as insects pinned to the page: iridescent images shift with each reading like rare beetles, intricate narratives pattern like butterfly wings, lines caterpillar twist.

LOUISIANA FUGUE

The barber has been bankrupt
since the flood. The town’s bald,

men and women, no longer visit
since the lakes rose and stunned.

Combs prostrate in disinfecting jars,
once mitochondrial in his hands.

Dozens of tonics on shelves
multiply in lipid mirrors,

refracting electric lights.
The jilted shaving brush and razors

foul rust. The barber can only trim
his bougainvillea’s viscous petals.

There has never been winter,
and now red January sludge

anoints, lathers and steams.
Lathers and steams.

Richard Boada will be at Lemuria Wednesday, February 26th, signing at 5, reading at 5:30.

Written by Adie

Let's Talk About Books