The Conference for the Book is held each year in Oxford, Mississippi. I was proud to be asked to be a presenter this year.
I attended the University of Mississippi in the ’50s, and my memories of Oxford are drear: gray days of being locked in the dorm by 8:30 (I never saw the end of a movie); a certain $1.99 steak, thin and tough, which provided the treat of a dinner date.
Oxford has changed–it’s the Mendocino of Mississippi. The Square downtown bustles with shops that would make Healdsburg proud. The thin steak is long gone, and we were treated to black-eyed pea and catfish cakes in jalapeno sauce, and fried oyster salad, which sound odd, but tasted great. We went to breakfast at BBB (Big Bad Breakfast). A fellow guest, David Hall, said if you ate there three days in a row, you’d need Medevac, but, boy, was it good.
Richard Howorth’s Square Books anchors downtown. A half-block away, a second location, Off Square Books, provides space for the packed “Thacker Mountain Radio”, a weekly hour of music and carrying on, plus author readings and signings.
This is the monument in front of the court house. In case you’re wondering, the county is named after the Marquis de Lafayette, the French soldier and statesman who helped America win independence, but pronounced in Mississippi: LaFAYette.
It occurred to me: in high school, we were taught that freeing the slaves was an effect of the War of Northern Aggression, but never the cause–which was just and holy.
At the Conference for the Book, I heard some terrific talks and met wonderful southern authors. I’ll write more about that.