Friday, April 27, 2012

Dateline: Jackson, Mississippi

On our way out of Oxford, we made one last stop at Off Square Books to see if we could feel any love. Eureka!  Maurri was behind the counter and rejoiced upon hearing of our Grand Southern Literary Tour. We each bought a copy of Writers of the American South: Their Literary Landscapes. This is a lovely hardcover book with text by Hugh Howard and color photographs by Roger Straus III.

I will write about this book another time.

I also bought a signed copy of Calico Joe by John Grisham. It is a baseball book. I love baseball. I have never read a John Grisham book but I couldn't pass up a chance to purchase a signed first edition. Maurri told us how great Grisham is to Square Books which supported him early on in his writing career. Now when Grisham publishes a new book, she said, he sends boxes of signed copies for the store.

Because we spent over $10, we each got a free book. I picked up a mystery, The Beach House, by James Patterson. Rose chose The Pillow Book of Lady Wisteria by Laura Joh Rowland.

We said so long to Oxford and headed further south to Jackson. We had a three o'clock appointment for a tour of Eudora Welty's house at 1119 Pinehurst Street.

At the visitors center which is in the house next door, Elaine showed us a brief movie about Ms. Welty and then led us on a rollicking tour of the house. She was so enthusiastic about her work. Welty's house looks just as if she is outside in her beloved gardens. Books cover every surface including the dining room table and a settee in the living room. Elaine said that when Welty died in 2001, the foundation counted and catalogued 5000 books. She said photos were taken of the bookcases and the books were put back exactly like they were when the author lived there.

Her reading chair was by the front window so she could see who was coming up the front walk. There was only one room with air conditioning. The kitchen was very simple. She had no help and did her own cleaning and cooking. She loved mysteries. She kept her Pulitzer Prize in a shoebox in an upstairs closet.

Her bedroom, which also served as her office, was quite spacious and light. It looked just like it did in the photo of her on the cover of The Writer's Desk.

In the gardens, I saw a stand of purple and pink sweet peas growing up a section of free-standing fence. They were so fragrant and looked so cheerful saluting there. I crowed out loud when I discovered cornflowers growing in a small plot. That was my favorite flower as a child - I swooned at the color - but have not seen any for many, many years. I was very happy.

Rose bought a copy of Eudora Welty: A Biography by Suzanne Marrs. I will borrow it from her.

We left happy and full of Southern good spirits.

And so to bed.

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