The owner of the independent bookstore Lemuria, John Evans, spoke at the Rotary Club of Jackson.
 
Evans grew up in Jackson attending Duling, Bailey, Murrah and Ole Miss.  His son is cofounder of Cathead Vodka, Mississippi’s first legal distillery. Evans talked about small business and how book stores fit in.  He always wanted to bring national writers to Mississippi to read from their books. He knew every local writer in the state.  He named authors from all over the nation and a couple from outside the U. S., all who have come to Lemuria and are now his friends. They all loved Mississippi.  He worked to help start the Mississippi Book Festival.  The next one will be 8/18/18.  It has grown each year, having over 8,000 attendees with 150 authors from all over the country last year.

He was showing a friend from City Lights Book Store around Jackson…Eudora Welty’s house, etc. when his friend remarked that Jackson has so much potential and that Jackson is waiting to happen.  Small business can make a difference in our culture.  It is safe in downtown Jackson.

He talked about the evolution of book stores in Jackson from his beginnings in the Quarter in the ‘70s when his competition was other independent book stores, to big box book stores coming in, to the present e-books and his web business where he encourages visitors to “read real books from a real book store” which now brings in business from out of state.  Eudora Welty and Willie Morris used to just hang out at Lemuria.  It was their book store. He is now trying to figure out a way to create a literary trail showing where Mississippi writers lived, hung out and are buried, like the Blues trail.  He has toyed with the idea of writing a book himself, but he had much rather read than write.  He predicted that Jesmyn Ward will write a really great book in the next twenty years.

Evans brought a “Jackson” coffee table book to give out.  It was given to the Rotarian who has lived in Jackson the longest – Howard Catchings, who has lived in Jackson over 70 years.

President-elect Neddie Winters introduced new member Maxine Greenleaf, executive director of Communication and Marketing at Jackson State University, who transferred to the RCJ from the Greenwood Rotary Club.  She has held numerous leadership positions in the Greenwood club and in the District.  She was given a warm welcome.