How would you describe your job?
I'm a bookseller at Powell's City of Books. I pair great books with eager readers, kind of like pet adoption for the brain. I work in metaphysics, art, science, gay and lesbian studies, and Catholicism.
Where are you originally from?
I hail from the Deep South, Mississippi, which has a violent, troubled past and present, and has consequently birthed some amazing writers, musicians, and artists. Jesmyn Ward
and Donna Tartt
share my home state, as did Richard Wright
, Eudora Welty
, and William Faulkner
, among scads of others. The Oxford Conference for the Book is kind of a big deal, too, like Wordstock.
What is the most interesting part of your job?
I have the privilege of working author events twice a week, which is an incredibly fast-paced and creative endeavor. Audience members are often dedicated, passionate readers, and they get all starry-eyed about their favorite writers. As do I. I get an intimate view of some pretty impressive people and have the opportunity to chat with great minds for a few precious minutes.
Share a memorable experience you've had on the job.
I wrote and delivered an introduction for Patton Oswalt when he toured with his book Silver Screen Fiend
. He's a phenomenal writer and thinker, so I was quite nervous, but when I saw him laugh while I was at the mike, I thought maybe I had achieved a modicum of success with my amateur humor.
What’s the last book you loved?
by Grant Morrison. Also: Are Prisons Obsolete?
by Angela Y. Davis.
What makes for a good book in your eyes?
Does it make me angry at any point? Kids' books are excellent for that; kids think heavily about the concept of fairness. Does everything around me dissolve when it arrests my consciousness? I would also like to laugh at some point. Even tragedies make you laugh; Bolaño
knew that. Of course, they also knew that a carefully timed joke had the power to royally tick you off.
Do you collect any particular types of books?
Witchcraft, horror, sci-fi, kids’, and comics history and criticism. But I dabble in lots of other genres and histories.
Why do you think bookstores remain so popular in the digital age?
Where do you go when you need to feel a part of a community while simultaneously being alone with your thoughts? What do you do with your weekend? We can explore in two dimensions, but we live in three, and a bookstore satisfies all of the senses, including taste since most of them have some sort of cafe.
What’s your biggest literary pet peeve?
When an author crafts an exquisite idea and then turns right around and spells it all out for the reader. It's a sign of insecurity, but it feels like an insult.
When you’re not reading, what do you like to do in your free time?
I study the trapeze, and I write short stories and essays. Recently, my coworker Taylor organized an evening of Powell's employees reading their work for LitCrawl, and I participated. The gathering provided an exhilarating and supportive level of camaraderie. Powell's has a bevy of extraordinarily talented, energetic folks.