By Mickey Howley
Next Tuesday at 5 p.m. at Square Books in Oxford there is an author signing and reception for a nationally released book from a major publisher. Actually it is at Off Square Books which is part of the Square Books trio of book stores and is on the Square, not off as the name suggests. It once was off, but that’s a long story.
This time the signing and release is not John Grisham and his latest. No, it is even tastier than that. It is two authors who are very local and much like when Grisham was starting out…a growing reputation. Alexe van Beuren and Dixie Grimes are the co-authors of The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook, pub-lished by Random House. A nationwide release for the book and more national press for that store on Wagner and Main.
But wait a second–the release is in Oxford. You might ask well, why is it not in Water Valley? Here’s why…a Square Books book release is a big deal, not everybody who has a book published gets that. It is special. Square Books is that locally owned business that through perseverance and hard work has earned a national reputation for quality. And maybe Richard and Lisa Howorth see in the BTC something of what Square Books did, being that local downtown business making a difference.
The book itself is just lovely. The cover art is a drawing by Bill Warren. It is of Coulter Fussell’s BTC logo design. I had my hands on an advance copy and read it. I say had, because the Governor has it now, solid proof that Water Valley has earned its featured town reputation in Mississippi’s Year of the Creative Economy.
I hope you get to sit down and read the book, also. Alexe wrote it and she writes well. She tells a good story about the town, the business, and the people who patronize it. Nice things to say about a lot of people. She even says nice things about John Crow. Imagine. The book is full of great food images—as you would expect, but also lots of photos of Water Valley. There is even a photo of Lee McMinn and Tommy Vaughn dining together. Classic.
If you are a regular reader of this column, you know much of what Water Valley Main Street constantly promotes is “Buy Local.” That buy local effect does so much for a community. It makes downtown strong and vibrant and a place you want to be. Well, much of that comes from how much money that this town retains and does not loose to surrounding communities or to online sales. So I almost never suggest you head to other towns to visit stores.
But let me suggest just this once you go to Oxford. That we all show up March 18 at Off Square Books. It’ll be like Water Valley’s Day on the Square.
But if you don’t go to Oxford next Tuesday, know you can get your copy directly at the BTC. Signed by Alexe.
Signed by Dixie if she is not too busy. And signed by Cora Ray who also has a chapter in the book. Stop in and say “Hi” to all three. They have made a real difference on Main Street.