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Keathley's General Store, downtown at 209 E. Broad St., has established a place for local writers and authors to showcase their books, novels and historical references.

The store, owned by Keith and Jean Keathley, opened Sept. 3 and caters to the downtown crowd who work there or live in the area. It hearkens back to the days of old when general stores were the mainstay of the downtown neighborhood, carrying a little bit of everything: breakfast foods, canned goods, soft drinks, candies and even some pans and spatulas.

When the store opened, Jean, who is an author in her own right, wanted a place to display her books. Keith thought it was a good idea to keep his wife happy so he put in a bookshelf for her use. Before they even got the doors open, another local author, Pam Kumpe, heard about it and called to ask if she could put some of her books on the shelf.

Keith agreed, and a tradition was born.

Since then, their stock of books on the big gray shelf has grown to include 30 books from 17 different authors, all of them local Texarkana residents on both sides of the state line. The offerings cover everything from history books about Texarkana to children's books, romances, fiction, mysteries, magical adventures, and a few fantasy novels about sword-swinging heroes.

Beverly J. Rowe, Ph.D., has one of her books on Texarkana history sitting on one of the top shelves of the big bookcase. She owns the Railroad Museum across the street from Keathley's and lives over it in a converted loft.

Keathley's isn't the only store in town that carries works by local authors.

Excalibur Comics at 2811 N. State Line Ave. occasionally puts book on their shelves but, for the most part, only carry sword-and-sorcery or dungeons-and-dragons type books. Dale Frost, the owner, doesn't solicit books and only takes them on consignment.

Books-A-Million at 3501 Mall Drive carry some local titles. According to an employee there, all these go through corporate headquarters before they make it to the store shelf.

There are other outlets, undoubtedly, but if you are seeking local voices this holiday season, these are places you might want to check out.

(EDITOR'S NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure, Michael V. Wilson is a local writer whose work can be found in some of these locations.)

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