Random House Book of the Month: Station Eleven

I know many of us have always heard the phrase, “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Well, thank the book gods above that I judged Emily St. John Mandel’s Station Eleven by its cover. When we got the book in the store, the cover of the book captivated me. I picked it up, read the inside of the dust jacket and thought, “I don’t think I would like this book, so I’ll just let others read it and tell me about it.” However, the rest of the day I longingly looked at the cover and finally broke down and got it. I am so glad that I did.

Station Eleven captivated me from the moment I read the first paragraph. The story takes place in the present, the past, and in a post-apocalyptic future, weaving stories together that are seemingly random. However, the more you read, the more you realize that the random stories and characters are not random at all; they are all linked by a tragic character. I don’t want to give the plot away, nor do I want to write a book report. I do want to tell you that the connections in the book are profound and that Emily Mandel has hit a home run with this novel.

Her writing is impeccable, and even though I sometimes got annoyed with paragraphs without much punctuation or complete thoughts, I was engaged and enamored with her prose. Station Eleven immediately grabbed my attention and did not let it go (this is saying a lot for someone who is A.D.D. to the core.) The main reason that Station Eleven captivated me was the fact that Mandel painted a clear and vivid picture of her characters and their settings. I found myself sitting in the audience, as she painted a picture of the main character playing King Lear in a Toronto theatre. I also found myself among survivors of the post-apocalyptic plague as they sat in their tent cities; or as they traveled along the road playing their instruments.

Also, I thought the way the story was written in a non-linear timeline, moving back and forth through space and time, was brilliant! I’ll be honest: in reading the reviews, I figured I would have a hard time with this in-and-out of time movement, however it’s what kept me engaged.

Station Eleven is one of those books that grabs you in the beginning, and it gets better and better. I was waiting for a letdown; and yet, it never came. It was truly a page-turner and I would recommend it to anyone who loves literature that is graceful yet sometimes unnerving. It is truly a novel that is brilliant, driven, original, and breathtaking!

//EDIT// Station Eleven was just longlisted for the National Book Award! We still have a few signed first editions left, come get yours today!

Written by Justin 

 

Justice for Ella

This article by Donna C. Echols was published in the Clarion-Ledger on September, 8 2014

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Pam Johnson, right, wrote the book ‘Justice for Ella,’ as told to her by Jewell McMahan, left, Ella Gaston’s best friend. (Photo: Special to the Clarion-Ledger)

Once in a while, life hands you an opportunity to do something very special. In Pam Johnson’s case, life handed her a special story to tell. The story is about an unlikely friendship that transcended fear, hostilities and race. It took 55 years before this story would be revealed to us in a new book called “Justice for Ella: A Story that Needed to be Told.”

“I heard my friend, Mike McMahan, tell this story about his mama and her friend at a dinner one night. All of us at the table told him that it needed to be written. I begged to write it and was lucky enough to be picked,” Johnson said. Justice for Ella is a rare view inside the friendship of two women, one black and one white, from the early years of the Civil Rights era.

When asked what inspired her to tell this story, Johnson said, “It was a fabulous story about two gutsy women and it had a ready-made dangerous and funny plot line. It was one of those things where we’d say now, ‘You just can’t make this stuff up.’ “

There was conflict and uncertainty around Ella Gaston and her husband, Nelse, as they journeyed through these tumultuous times and I could feel it through the words written on each page. My heart would even race, and I would feel nervous as I read through some of the difficult situations and terrifying moments that Ella and her friend Jewell found themselves.

Johnson believes that the “take away” message in this story for people today: “You don’t have to be a rock star to stand up to injustice. These two determined women were ordinary people who did what they could, and they prevailed. Right has a way of doing that.”

Right has a way of doing that … perhaps the most understated comment of all as Ella and Jewell’s journey took them through fears of losing their children, of imprisonment without justification, of retaliation. Yet through it all, their friendship remained strong as these two women faced hatred, racism, and an uncertainty in a setting about to erupt as the Civil Rights battles raged on.

“As a former newspaper reporter and English teacher, even I was not prepared for the sheer discipline and labor involved in putting together a book,” Johnson said when asked what it was like to sit down and write a book. “It has to make sense and stream forward in every detail, while at the same time being readable and compelling. I often prided myself as a teacher on making sure my students understood the value of documented resources. But I confess at the end of my research on the book, I was wishing for index cards.”

Editing took a lot of time, too. “There is a lot of good writing sitting in a drawer in my office that will never see print,” she said. “I also learned the value of an egg timer,” she said. “I would set my timer for an hour and write through it. Take a break. Set it again, and keep writing. Sometimes, I would write for six hours in a day.”

These comments show the tenacity it takes to finish a book that involves so much research and so many interviews. It was a tedious process that at the end of the day revealed a gripping, page-turning, compelling, emotional, heart-warming book like Justice for Ella that perfectly illustrates the depth of friendships.

After getting my copy of Justice for Ella, there was no sleeping or eating or work to be done until I was finished. Every character in the book was a thoroughly described, three-dimensional person. They were easy to visualize. The personalities and heart-pounding drama jumped off every page as I quickly turned them to see what was going to happen next. I could even smell and taste the Sunday fried chicken as it was described in delicious details. The suspense of whether Ella would be sent to jail or Jewell would get caught helping her friend made me hold my breath waiting to see what happened to them. Reading such an energetic account of what lengths a friend would go to help another during some very dangerous times was riveting. After this, I had to know if there was a second book in store for Johnson’s readers.

“I do have an idea in mind based on a recent true story from my hometown of Mount Olive. I am still working on fleshing out the storyline to submit for consideration,” Johnson said. “I could probably write a political thriller, but it would have to be a work of fiction. Too many of the characters are still alive.

“Even though I was a child during the Civil Rights era, like most white Southern children of the time, I was exposed only to carefully edited television reports, an occasional Life magazine lying around, and dinner table conversation,” Johnson remembered. “I learned more about our Civil Rights history than I ever imagined I would know, or really hoped to know, while researching this book. Even with my experiences as an adult in areas promoting racial understanding and communication, nothing prepared me for the sheer pervasiveness of Jim Crow through the lives of all Mississippians — black and white. It pains me to see blatant remnants of those times still being paraded and parroted by people who should know better.”

The heroines in Justice for Ella braved the odds and defied status quo. I asked Johnson if she saw herself in these women, these friends, these Mississippi folks who bravely protected and looked after each other during a dangerous time in our state’s history. Johnson answered, “In my office, I have a magnet with a picture of Han Solo that states ‘Never Tell Me the Odds.’ That pretty much sums up an approach I’ve taken in life — sometimes with great outcomes, and many times with, shall we say, ‘learning opportunities.’ My eagerness to write the book stemmed in great part from that attitude and believe that the Lord always has my back. I think both of these women had the same way of looking at challenges, and they worked with whatever was available to them to overcome very steep odds.”

Asked if she was ever nervous about researching and writing this story, Johnson said that at times she was. “As a person with an often reckless sense of capability, I wasn’t nervous. I realized about halfway in that I should have been,” she said.

This book, Justice for Ella, was inspirational for me as I read it. I was curious if that was true for Johnson, and what was the most encouraging part of Jewell and Ella’s journey for her. She said, “There were many occurrences displaying raw backbone in this story, but I have to say the hospital trips were the most blatantly courageous actions in the narrative. Ella was made to get grossly sick. Both women were risking arrest for interfering with the court proceedings. That’s the reason the story had been in a virtual vault for five decades.”

We have so many famous Mississippians as literary giants, world famous musicians, a plethora of athletic talent, and in countless other categories. What does this story tell you about Mississippians and their willingness to do great things without regard to consequences? “I think there’s a streak of ‘fearless’ in all of us. Sometimes it works out well; sometimes, not so much, Johnson said. “We seem to enjoy our common profile of courage in the face of giants — be they human, societal or economic. It appears to me that this commonality runs through just about all of us — in every demographic group.”

While we can’t change the history of our state, what are some things that Ella and Jewell’s friendship can teach us? Johnson said that recognizing and honoring each other on a human scale is essential to our survival and progress. “Categorizing and demeaning our fellow travelers does not make for a cohesive, kind and successful way of living, in my opinion.” “I am very grateful to the McMahans and the Gastons for their unending support and patience while I was researching and writing, Johnson added. “The families had held this story a close secret for over 50 years, and it was a wonderful experience to help them shine the light on their mamas’ courage.”

REMINDER… Pam Johnson’s book signing for Justice for Ella will be Thursday, Sept. 18, at Lemuria Bookstore beginning at 5 p.m. If you can’t make the signing, call Lemuria (601-366-7619) and order a book. The author will be happy to sign it for you.

Tweet your thoughts to @TheDonnaEchols, and we’ll see you at the book signing!

Let’s Talk Jackson: She has her grip on me

“Later they took him to Jackson and that explained it; he was crazy.” – Shelby Foote, Follow Me Down: A Novel

“Justin, why in the world would you ever want to live in Jackson? You must be crazy.” There is no telling how many times I’ve been asked that question, and every time someone asks me, “Why Jackson?” I simply say, “For some reason, Jackson has always had her grip on me.”

Growing up in a small rural community outside of Pelahatchie, Jackson was the city where we would go eat and go shop once a month. I also remember as a child, my Godmother’s uncle was the day manager at the Sun-n-Sand Motel. Many of my childhood summer days were spent by the pool at the Sun-n-Sand, and our nights would end at The Iron Horse Grill. Even though I grew up in Rankin County, I had a very interesting and unique perspective of Jackson. It is one of the reasons I love Jackson.

As a high school student, I remember spending every Monday and Thursday on Seneca Street in Fondren. It was a beautiful ranch style house and my piano teacher lived and taught from her home studio. It was at her house that I learned how to play Debussy, Gershwin, Beethoven, and even Carole King. I can remember those afternoons and evenings of playing scales, trying to make my clumsy hands go up and down the keys of her Steinway grand Piano. As a reward for my practicing and playing, we would always go to Cups to treat ourselves to coffee. My piano teacher’s house was recently sold and she no longer lives there, but I often find myself driving down Seneca, remembering those piano lessons that seemed to have lasted hours upon hours.

Jackson: She has her grip on me. Jackson grabbed me as a child, held me as a teenager, and now she holds my hand as an adult. I stay here, and I live here because I love Jackson. I’ve found a place of belonging and a community that not only accepts me, but a community that makes me a better person. Will I always live in Jackson? Probably not; However, I get the feeling that no matter where the road of life takes me, Jackson will forever have my heart.

 

Written by Justin 

Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. 

Let’s Talk Jackson: Lemuria defies e-book trend

The following article was written by Jerry Mitchell and published on August 2, 2014 in the Clarion-Ledger.

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Photography by Ken Murphy

In a day where many prognosticators regard bookstores as forgettable relics and e-books as the unstoppable future, one bookstore is defying the odds and publishing its own $75 book.

That bookstore is Lemuria, which is releasing a 183-page photo book about Mississippi’s capital city this week.

If there is another bookstore in the U.S. going into the high end of publishing like this, Richard Howorth, past president of the American Booksellers Association, doesn’t know about it.

Decades ago, some bookstores did dabble in publishing, he said. City Lights bookstore in San Francisco became a publisher. So did the Beehive in Savannah, Ga.

But that was before department stores gave way to mall stores and then to megastores and ultimately to online bookstores, such as Amazon.

John Evans was born in 1950 — 14 years before Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

In his early 20s, he spent much of his time buying records and books in his native Jackson. “I didn’t have much direction,” he said.

After Be-Bop Records opened in 1974, he decided to take his own shot at a business, he said. “I thought I might as well open a bookstore.”

He began writing book publishers and asking his friends to suggest books to order. Soon, sales representatives filled his small apartment.

Lemuria (named after the mythic civilization) was born, he said. “I formed the company two weeks after I was 25.”

By 2002, it had become such a beloved independent bookstore that when author Elmore Leonard decided to hold seven book signings in North America, Lemuria was one of them.

The fall of the economy and the rise of e-books began to devastate bookstores. In 2011, Borders closed its remaining 400 stores.

To survive, many bookstores moved beyond books to sell all sorts of other merchandise, and some even embraced e-books. Evans loved physical books, and that’s what he stuck with, he said. “I saw all that as opportunity to say, ‘We are a real bookstore, and we will live or die by that.’ “

Looking for ideas to rebrand Lemuria, Evans read “The New Rules of Retail” by Robin Lewis and Michael Dart.

In that book, authors suggested retail in 2020 might look most like Apple, with a product created, produced and marketed by the same company.

Would there be a way, Evans wondered, of producing a product that neither Barnes & Noble nor Amazon could sell? If so, that could become a way to redefine Lemuria, he thought.

Not long after, photographer Ken Murphy contacted Evans to get his opinion on whether he should do a sequel to his successful book that featured photos on Mississippi.

In studying that book, Evans noticed only a few photographs from the capital city and suggested to Murphy there was more of a need for a photo book about Jackson than a second statewide book.

They eventually decided to do just that, he said. “I didn’t want it to just be a book of photographs. I felt like there needed to be a photographic plot, a stream of consciousness.”

For the next year, Evans juggled his two jobs of running Lemuria and editing the photo book. “From a cash flow perspective, it was difficult — cash flow and having the energy,” he said.

The printing, including a planned second printing, cost six figures.

While Evans remained busy, something happened in the book industry.

Over the past year, the sales of hardcover books rose 9.5 percent, and the sales of e-books fell 0.5 percent, said Howorth, who once taught Bezos at a class for prospective bookstore owners. “That helps to explain why Amazon’s stock is down 10 percent. We’re reaching a plateau.”

Jamie Kornegay, owner of Turnrow Books in Greenwood, praised what Lemuria has done and said he hopes it becomes a model for what others can do.

He sees his job as the battle to preserve the physical book, he said. “If we cede e-books to this generation, that’s it.”

Evans doesn’t believe he retains as well when he sits and reads at a computer. “I think the jury is still out on how memory works,” he said.

He sees many in this new generation favoring the tactile over the virtual. “My best young bookseller is choosing to read physical books,” he said. “They’re real.”

By the time Evans arrived in May at the Book Expo in New York, word of what his little bookstore in Mississippi had done had spread.

Some booksellers told him it was a great idea.

He shot back, “It’s a lot of work.”

Evans believes the physical book will not only survive but endure.

“Yes, a physical book takes a little more effort, but the opportunity you have to read a physical book is about as pleasurable as any experience you can have,” he said. “It’s irreplaceable.”

Contact Jerry Mitchell at (601) 961-7064 or jmitchell@jackson.gannett.com. Follow @jmitchellnews on Twitter.

Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. 

Stability Once Again

At 7:00 am on the opening morning of this year’s New Orleans Jazz Fest, I was awakened by phone calls from Jeff Good of Broad Street, and Austen of Lemuria informing me that the Lemuria Book Hand had crashed down and was destroyed. They sent pictures as proof, and I worked my mind clear, defrosting my late night take of beverage and great music from Bombino at the House of Blues. My musical high crashed down to earth with this news.

I called Bob Reed, our sign guru, and he told me not to worry, he would take care of it and deal with our insurance company. Replacement was immediately underway, and now Bob has reinstated our sculpture and Lemuria’s brand symbol is back.

In 1980, to celebrate 5 years in business, Lemuria engaged local artist Keith Parker to do a wood engraving. The edition would be 100 copies, signed and numbered. Our Art Deco inspired image was of a Lemuria mermaid rising out of Lemuria’s ruins holding a book high.

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In 1981, Lemuria finally got out of debt and made a little money. To celebrate, we issued graphic tshirts, also designed by Keith,  of a hand holding a book exploding out of the water to surface. We had gotten our bookstore above water! All of this was visioned within the eyeball of the Wisdom Eye. This image was influenced by the tail of a whale on the surface as it is diving, and we considered the image as a homage to the great 1930 edition of Moby Dick, illustrated by Rockwell Kent.

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In 1998 when Lemuria designed our present storefront, we created our entrance with the Book Hand. Banner Hall was near financial ruin when new ownership took over. Once again, our book hand signaled a re-birthing of Lemuria’s stability.

In the last few years, real books have been challenged by alternative reading devices. Lemuria thus launched a “Read Real Books” campaign, grounded by our Book Hand logo. Coupled with the recession and severe competition, the real book was challenged. Now, real book reading has stabilized in a posture of strength and rebirth once again. Justin Schultz of Flying Chair, also designed a more contemporary book hand with a modern Wisdom Eye to celebrate real book stabilization.

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Our Book Hand sculpture has now been replaced and situated. Stability once again for Lemuria, has been symbolized.

Lemuria has endured the recession’s hard times. We have published our book proudly about our local community, and good ole Bob has brought our Book Hand back to us, and he has promised our new sculpture will last the lifetime of Lemuria.

By the way, our previous Book Hand collapsed because of inferior glue which eroded over the years causing our beloved sculpture to weaken. Fortunately, at 5:00 am this past April when it fell, no one was in Banner Hall or was hurt.

Secrets, secrets are no fun

Today we are celebrating the release of Matthew Guinn’s novel The Resurrectionist in paperback! When I started working at Lemuria it was the very first book I read with the intention of selling it- so it had to ask myself not only how I felt about it but how I thought others would react to the story. It is a book of secrets. There are two kinds of secret: those that grow over time and those that diminish. The secrets that grow over time are not the big ones, not the powerful or horrible ones- they are the ones that people share in whispers at night until they grow into the daylight like weeds. Just ask the people working at UMMC, they’ll tell you it’s not so easy to erase a secret that hundreds of people know about.

The Resurrectionist does what we all wish would happen more often, it tells us the real back-story of a painful and embarrassing secret. Jumping between present day and the 19th century, Matt Guinn tells an amazing story on both sides of a dark history of a hospital that has to bend their morality to try to save lives. It begs the question: have we really changed as much as we pretend in the public eye; or is it the things we do behind closed doors that measure our progress? I’m certain I don’t know the answer- all I know is secrets and coincidences go hand in hand, so I leave you with a quote I read last night: “That is how heavy a secret can become. It can make blood flow easier than ink.” -Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear 

The keg is on ice and the man of the hour will start signing at 5PM. Free Dead Guy Ale. Come share a secret with us.

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Let’s Talk Jackson: Q&A with Ken Murphy and Lisa Newman

The following article was written by Jana Hoops and was published on August 2, 2014 in the Clarion-Ledger

With a desire to support and promote “what is good about Jackson,” photographer Ken Murphy and Lemuria Books owner John Evans have teamed up to create Jackson: Photographs by Ken Murphy, the first published pictorial account of Mississippi’s capital in more than 15 years.

Nearly two years in the making, the book includes close to 200 photos that capture the culture and vibrancy of the city, as it documents many of Jackson’s most familiar places and scenes.

Murphy, who lives and works as a commercial/art photographer in his hometown of Bay St. Louis, holds a BFA in documentary, editorial and narrative photography from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York. He has authored and published two other award-winning coffee table books: My South Coast Home and Mississippi. His third book, Mississippi: State of Blues, was a collaborative effort with Scott Barretta.

Also contributing to the book was Lisa Newman, who wrote the plate details for all 186 photographs. Newman grew up in Jackson, Tennessee, then lived overseas and in various places around the South before she made a “very conscious decision” to move to Jackson seven years ago. With a background in teaching, she joined the staff at Lemuria as a bookseller and has written for the store’s blog for several years.

The oversized volume is being offered with a choice of four different covers: Lamar Life (standard), the Welty House, Fondren Corner; and Lemuria Bookstore.

Ken Murphy

Please tell me about your association with John Evans and Lemuria Books. How and why did the two of you decide to do this book?

Ken: I met John while selling my first book, “My South Coast Home,” back in 2001. I found him to be very knowledgeable and very willing to share that knowledge. From then on, I referred to him as my “book guru.” I would run all of my ideas by John to see what he thought. That is how Jackson came about. I was bouncing around the idea of a “Mississippi Volume II” book when John thought of the Jackson book. His belief in the project made me believe in it as well, even though I was a little dubious at first. Being from the Coast, I did not know Jackson, so I wasn’t sure that I could make enough photographs for a 180-page coffee table book.

Can you give an overview of the types of subjects in this book?

Ken: We tried to include everything that makes Jackson what it is, and that is its people, restaurants, historic buildings, museums, clubs, parks, and events. What you will see in this book are only positive aspects about Jackson. We will leave the negative stuff to the media.

How many images are in the book? How long did it take to complete the photography?

Ken: There are 186 photographs in the book. We started talking about Jackson in August of 2012. We pulled a deal together and got started shooting on St. Paddy’s Day 2013. I spent right at 12 months making photographs, so I would say it has taken two years from conception to having the books in the store, which is a record for me. I’m not sure how many shots I really took but we had a good list to work with, from the beginning. As we went down the list, it would change, depending on the location and my ability to get a photograph to represent it.

How did you choose which subjects made the cut?

Ken: The places and/or people in the book were selected by John and his team at the bookstore based on its, or their, importance to the Jackson culture. But this doesn’t mean that the photographs in this book are the only defining features about Jackson. That would not be true. As for making eliminations, it was simple. Either the place was no longer there, the person was unavailable, or it was just too hard to make what I thought would be a satisfactory photograph.

What is your hope for this book?

Ken: I hope it energizes the Jackson culture in a way that will be positive and beneficial to the citizens of Jackson as well as the rest of Mississippi. I hope this book will educate people about the true Jackson, while enlightening lifelong residents and visitors alike with an entertaining armchair tour. One of the reasons I wanted to publish a photographic coffee table book was to help dispel negative stereotypes about Mississippi.

I only hope that the world sees Mississippi in a positive light, literally. If my books can help do that and folks are inspired to get out and experience the real place, Mississippi, then I feel I’ve been successful.

Lisa Newman

Why did Lemuria Books decide to publish this photographic account of 21st century Jackson?

Lisa: We were continually getting requests for a photographic book on Jackson. The last one was published in 1998 by Walt Grayson and Gil Ford Photography and is now out of print.

A book celebrating the beauty of modern Jackson was long overdue, and Lemuria knew the work of Ken Murphy would result in one of the classiest books on Jackson — ever.

As the writer for the plate details of nearly 200 photos, your work covers eight full pages. How long did it take you to fact-check and write?

Lisa: It took me several months, but keep in mind that I was writing them at Lemuria while continuing many of my usual bookseller responsibilities.

How did you conduct the research?

Lisa: Ken requested input from every place he visited, and we received some response. I also immersed myself in every Jackson history book I could get my hands on.

The online catalog for the Mississippi Department of Archives and History, along with other historical preservation sites, were great sources, as were current websites of many of the businesses.

Were there details that surprised you?

Lisa: The main courtroom in the Old Federal Building had one of the most surprising stories. It features a mural commissioned by the Works Progress Administration in 1938. Ukrainian painter Simka Simkovitch was asked to paint a typical representation of life in Mississippi. For many years, the mural was kept behind a curtain because of the reminder of the cruel injustice which was the backbone of the Old South economy. Today, the building is being repurposed as a multi-use facility and has taken on the name of Capitol & West. I think this photo of the courtroom is a great example of how Jackson is moving forward to create a new identity. We will have to see what happens to the painting.

We also included exterior and interior shots of Tougaloo’s Woodworth Chapel. The breathtaking chapel was a hub for civil rights workers.

Jackson

Photographer: Ken Evans

Publisher: Lemuria Books

Price: $75

Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. 

Let’s Talk Jackson Guest Post: Spend your weekends here

Another weekend has come and gone and you might have sung the same old song to the tune of “there’s nothing to do in Jackson”. If you did, you, madam or sir, are incorrect. We do not live in a desert or a monastery, we live in a city with LOTS of things to do. Here to tell you about it are Brianna Wilson and Joanna Haywood, law students at the MC School of Law downtown. I suggest you take their advise and get off of your fanny and into the city.

 

Underground 119

Since I moved to Jackson, Underground 119 has been one of my favorite places to go.  Nestled in downtown Jackson, it is a great place to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life and just relax for a while.  I always enjoy going to Underground after a long day of studying.  Things don’t get crowded until closer to dinner, and it is nice to just sit and talk with friends or watch the musician for the night set up and rehearse.

The atmosphere completely changes when it gets dark.  The lights are dimmed and people pour in from the street above to be serenaded by talented musicians from both near and far.  The space of the restaurant lends itself to a surprisingly intimate dinner setting, despite the echoing of jazz and blues and the chatter of other patrons.  The climate of this unique place is not the only attraction; I have found that the food is quite delicious and have never been let down by a dish I’ve ordered.  I will say that the steak quesadillas are my absolute favorite!  Everyone should enjoy this unique gem buried in downtown Jackson!

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Written by Brianna Wilson 

 

Babalu Tacos and Tapas 

If I had to pick one word to describe my idea of an amazing Friday night, it would have to be BABALU!  It’s located right in the heart of Fondren, and if you’re looking for some great Latin cuisine, this is the place to be! From their ever popular guacamole as an appetizer, to their Lamb Baracoa Tacos for dinner, you are sure to have your appetite satisfied. No worries if you’re simply looking for a relaxing spot to take the edge off, with their wide variety of margaritas, Babalu is sure to help. I highly recommend making this place a part of your list of things to try when stopping by Fondren in Jackson. I guarantee you will not regret it!!

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Written by Joanna Haywood

Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. 

Let’s Talk Jackson Guest Post: We Are Here to Stay

Written by Mary Margaret Miller White 

I first met Barry White at a Bobby Rush concert in Oxford, Mississippi. I had just turned 21 and he had recently moved to the “velvet ditch” as a Mississippi State post-grad. We chatted as casually as one can while Bobby Rush and his lovely dancers are on stage, and talked about who we knew in common and where we came from. I call the Delta home and am fiercely proud of my rural roots. Barry hails from Jackson, and is the first to tell you about the “old St. Joe” or the Dutch Bar or Fields Café.

See, Delta folks usually navigate north to Memphis, so at the time the most I knew of Jackson was the strangely-lit basketball court at Jackson Academy and the post-shopping stop at Old Tyme Deli where my mother and I would sip coffee and share pastries. All fine memories, but no real reason to love the city.  I told Barry on that February night of 2003 that I would “never live in Jackson, Mississippi.” But seven years of dating and a million trips to the Capitol City for weddings, parades and big meals in Belhaven changed my mind, and now we are here to stay.

On October 1, 2011, Barry and I got married and celebrated our nuptials on the grounds of Welty Commons. This hidden gem of a coffee shop and courtyard was the perfect setting for our sort of celebrating. We had a band in the gallery, a cake in the big house and bare feet in the fountain. The bluest sky and the crispest breeze unfolded on that October day, allowing us to open every window and door on the grounds. Mandolin and fiddle sounds were filtered only by laughter. Our friends and family danced so hard the wooden floors of the gallery room seemed to turn to foam, bouncing guests from one number to the next. We ate and drank and never wanted the day to end.

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That light-filled afternoon seems magical and mystical to me today, but I do remember clearly that everyone felt at home in this space devoted to Miss Welty’s birthplace. And now, I feel at home here in Jackson where Barry and I have decided to plant our roots. Barry often reminds me of how I once said I would “never live in Jackson, Mississippi,” and I have learned over the years to eat my humble pie and be grateful for my marriage and my home here.

Welty’s One Writer’s Beginnings has always been a favorite, and in just a few lines, Welty sums up the lifetime of searching, learning, and loving I’ve tried to describe here:

“It is our inward journey that leads us through time – forward or back, seldom in a straight line, most often spiraling. Each of us is moving, changing, with respect to others. As we discover, we remember; remembering, we discover; and most intensely do we experience this when our separate journeys converge.”

 

 

Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com. 

 

Let’s Talk Jackson: Goodbyes

No one likes goodbyes. Ilsa couldn’t believe that Rick just popped her onto that plane with a blandly spoken “here’s looking at you, kid”, and the world stuttered and stopped breathing for a minute when we heard that Robin Williams would no longer be here to make us laugh. Goodbyes are the WORST. In real life, goodbyes aren’t nearly as poetic or or well scripted as those in books or movies, but they can hurt even more.

An open letter to the Jackson Greyhound Bus Terminal:

Dear Bus Station,

Thanks for rekindling some pretty sad memories for me. About 10 years ago I was standing on a platform at some tiny, unnamed train station outside of Stockholm, and I said goodbye to a dear friend. I didn’t know if I would ever see her again, I mean after all- the Atlantic is on the bigger side. We cried. I ran alongside the train as it left the station, and for the first time in my young mind, I realized that it was possible to cross paths with someone only one or two times in your whole life. Would that be us? Would I ever see my friend again? It was a pretty hopeless farewell.

Ok, stop crying. I saw her a few years later. A brief visit to the U.S. to see us, then back to the grey skies of Sweden, and once again, I was left wondering if that was it. Saying goodbye to my friend was becoming a far too regular occurrence.

Here’s where you come in, Greyhound station. It’s 2014 and my teenage wonder at the world and it’s workings has dissipated a bit. My dear friend returns to the states, and we spend a lovely day together, catching up (she’s finished medical school! I have my dream job!), and realizing that distance has made the heart grow fonder. At the end of her brief stay in Jackson, my husband and myself drive her to the bus station late in the evening. She’s taking the Greyhound to Nashville to connect with other friends who have missed her and wondered if they would ever see her again.

Here’s the thing, I was sad, but this time I wasn’t heartbroken. I hugged her and watched with a bit of envy as she shouldered her backpack and boarded the bus. We waved, smiling and calling out farewells and “we’ll keep in touch!” before turning our backs on the mass of people waiting to board and walked away. It was a quiet ride home that night, and I wondered how many people had said goodbye that day.

Greyhound station, you are like a crush in the 6th grade: heartbreaking and full of hope. You force goodbyes, and you bring the giddy flutter of a hello. So I guess as an ammendum to my bitter start to this letter:

Dear Bus Station,

Thanks for bringing my friend back to me, and thanks for providing a road for her to continue on when it’s time for her to leave. I hope I see her again soon.

Love,

Hannah

GreyhoundStation

 

Jackson: photographs by Ken Murphy is available now for purchase. To order a copy, call Lemuria Books at 601.366.7619 or visit us online at www.lemuriabooks.com.