The Friends of the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library concludes this month’s Table Talk series on Wednesday with a talk by Lisa Howorth, author of “Flying Shoes.” Born in Washington, D.C., where her family has lived for four generations, she migrated to Oxford, where she and her husband, Richard, opened the acclaimed independent bookstore Square Books in 1979.
Howorth, who received the Mississippi Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts in 1996, has written for Garden and Gun magazine and has several nonfiction books to her credit, including “The South: A Treasury of Art and Literature” and “Yellow Dogs, Hushpuppies, and Bluetick Hounds.”
For her fiction debut, Howorth reached back into her past to construct a novel loosely based on the tragic molestation and murder of her own 9-year-old stepbrother in 1966. Howorth has said in interviews that the case, which has never been solved, has “haunted” her since she was a teenager and that she has been working on the story off and on since the 1990s.
Set in a fictionalized “Oxford,” the novel opens as the main character, Mary Byrd Thornton, receives the news that her brother’s case has been reopened 30 years after his 1966 murder. This news will eventually drag her back to Richmond, Virginia, but not before readers have a chance to meet and dive into the minds of an astonishing gallery of Mary Byrd’s friends and acquaintances.
“Lisa Howorth’s dazzling verbal wit almost stops you in your tracks while you are flying along in this delicious prose,” wrote Kentucky author Bobbie Ann Mason in a cover blurb for the novel. Ann Patchett hailed the novel’s literary heritage: “Like all great stories from Mississippi … it twists and turns in order to notice what matters most in life … ”
“This isn’t a mystery thriller,” said Friends member Jo Shumake. “It’s something better: a novel that sets us in a particular time, examines eternal issues and gives the reader nuanced studies of characters that jump off the page.”
Join the Friends at the Columbus-Lowndes Public Library, 314 Seventh St. N., for what promises to be an interesting program. Doors open at 11:30 a.m. for those wishing to bring their lunch and socialize before the program begins at noon. The Friends will serve iced tea.
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