Memphis and Oxford and Home

There's nothing like the feeling of walking into a bookstore full of friends who say, before they even greet you, "You're still our favorite hand sell!" Well, that IS a greeting! I love the good folks at Square Books in Oxford, Mississippi, and look forward to seeing them whenever I'm close enough to get there, which I was on this trip.
That's Lyn Roberts, with Ramona and Jill, who keep children's running, along with Leita, who was off on Saturday afternoon when we rolled in. We had set up a stock signing, no event, and that suited me just fine. Said Lyn, "Authors don't always realize that a stock signing can be plenty -- there doesn't have to be a full-fledged event." I get it -- I have always said that meeting booksellers and getting to know them, and signing stock that will be hand sold after I leave, is the most important thing I do on the road with a book. It has created solid friendships, those relationships that Jamie Kornegay at TurnRow talks about.
So I signed and signed, and signed some more -- lots of stock at Square Jr. Then Hannah and I looked at one another, starving, and decided to find some supper, and make our way home to Atlanta.

It had been quite the day -- it started off at Graceland in Memphis. Then we mosied to Stax Records, which is now "The Museum of American Soul Music." No photos were allowed inside the museum, so I scribbled furiously as I took notes for my Sixties Trilogy, both at Stax and at Graceland. I'll soon begin work on the 1966 novel in the Sixties Trilogy, where two girls make a trip from Mississippi to Memphis to find Elvis Presley... one of them is convinced (with reasonable proof) that Elvis is her father.

After Graceland and Stax, we zipped down I-55 to Oxford, Mississippi, paying our respects at Rowan Oak, William Faulkner's home, then hung out at Square Books, and then made a trek into nowheresville -- it seems that way, anyway -- to Taylor Grocery.

I ate here on tour with the hardcover ALL-STARS, and I wanted to show it to Hannah. Plus... as I said, we were starving. And it had been pouring rain all day. We deserved a nice sit-down dinner. But it wasn't to be. The waiting time for a table was over an hour, and we couldn't wait that long. I had a sneaking suspicion, as well, that Hannah was as hep to get home as I was.
We ended up driving across the hill country of Mississippi, on a highway that had no restaurants, and by the time we found one, we were in Birmingham. So we stopped at a Waffle House after midnight, refueled, and stared at one another across the table.

"Let's just go home."

And that's what we did. We drove home to Atlanta, through the pouring rain, and tumbled into bed at 3am. Home. Home from a week away in Mississippi, and home from a month of travels with the Shoestring Tour. Tomorrow I want to do a wrap-up for you. Right now, I'm going to take a nap.

I'll leave you today with these words about the land we just traversed, from Lanterns on the Levee by William Alexander Percy:

My country is the Mississippi Delta, the river country. It lies flat, like a badly drawn half oval, with Memphis at its northern, and Vicksburg at its southern tip. Its western boundary is the Mississippi River, which coils and returns on itself in great loops and crescents, though from the map you'd think it ran in a straight line, north and south. Every few years it rises like a monster from its bed and pushes over its banks to vex and sweeten the land it has made.... This ancient depression, now filled in and level, is what we call the Delta.