John Grisham on His Favorite Bookstore, That Bookstore in Blytheville

Jonesboro-born author of legal thrillers and Oxford American-savior John Grisham is contributing to a book of essays called "My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Placs to Browse, Read, and Shop."

Edited by Ronald Rice, the book is compilation of writers' thoughts on their favorite brick-and-mortar book shops.

Today, the Daily Beast carried an excerpt of Grisham's essay on That Bookstore in Blytheville, which begins with Grisham's "fledgling career" "on the rocks."

However, a handful of wise booksellers saw something the others did not, and enthusiastically pushed "A Time to Kill." There were five of them; one was Mary Gay Shipley, of That Bookstore in Blytheville, Ark.. I’ve always suspected Mary Gay had a soft spot because I was born in Jonesboro, Ark., not too far away. When I was a kid I visited my grandfather’s music store on Main Street in Blytheville, so Mary Gay and I had some common ground, shaky as it was.

I soon abandoned all dreams of seeing my first novel on the bestseller lists. I got tired of hawking copies of it from the trunk of my car. Instead, I concentrated on finishing my second novel, The Firm. Mary Gay read an advance copy of it and said things were about to change. I agreed to do a signing in her store and arrived there on Sunday, March 17, 1991, St. Patrick’s Day. Her husband, Paul, had found some green beer to go with the green popcorn and the like.

Earlier this year, Shipley announced her retirement and put the store up for sale. She also ran for the District 55 Arkansas House seat, but lost in a primary runoff to Monte Hodges.

Update: Looks as if a sale of the bookstore is in the works.

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