Brief Bio: Voracious velocireader. General mischief maker. Currently manning the switchboard in the Write Place, Write Time secret volcano lair (www.writeplacewritetime.tumblr.com).
What books recently rocked my world: Zazen by Vanessa Veselka. The Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich. Rat Girl by Kristin Hersh. Bound by Antonya Nelson. And I will never, ever, ever stop talking about The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway or Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell. I would inject them straight into my veins, if it was possible.
Best damn event(s) we’ve hosted: 500 people came to see Chuck Palahniuk at the Unitarian Church. He was magnificent – he tossed inflatable turkeys into the audience, and he signed our poster “We did bad things in a church.” I was thrilled we got John Vaillant, because I am rabid about The Tiger. We also partner with The Music Hall to present the Writers on a New England Stage series, and the lineup has been epic – John Updike, Stephen King, and Richard Russo, to name a few. (Margaret Atwood even sang a song!) And I love having events with authors I’ve met through Twitter – it makes the event extra-special.
Most entertaining author(s) we’ve hosted: Jess Walter and Sean Ferrell did an event together, and they killed – KILLED. Paul Harding, too – he’s hysterically funny. Luis Alberto Urrea is spellbinding. I could have listened to him tell stories for days. People drove to Portsmouth from all over to see Justin Cronin, and he was worth it – just fantastic. And we haven’t hosted Sara Gran (yet!) but I did have the opportunity to lunch with her a few months ago, and she is SO awesome. Also, I bet if you crossed her, she could destroy you using just her mind.
Strangest question a customer has ever asked: “Did Stieg Larsson write The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo series before he died?” No. After.
Why our store kicks ass: Well, the fact that it has books in it is enough for me! But we also have well-read staff members who would love to tell you about them. We’re expert book matchmakers. Customers are always apologizing for asking us to make book recommendations, which is crazy, because we live to talk about books. (It’s like apologizing to cats for giving them live mice to play with!) And we are so fortunate to have so many amazing authors visit us. I think that says a lot about our store, and our town.
What makes our neighborhood and customers awesome: Portsmouth is an incredible, local-minded city, and Tom, the owner, is really big on doing things that benefit the community. So many people here recognize the importance of shopping in their hometown, and we certainly appreciate it. And the arts community here is HUGE – there’s always something fantastic going on. There are so many artists of every kind. Much more per capita than most cities this size, I bet. I love that we can sell 900 seats to an author event at the Music Hall almost every single time. In short: Portsmouth rocks.
I promise you won’t find this at any other store: A dinosaur robot sharing space with a signed Barack Obama poster.
Why I do what I do: If I didn’t have an outlet for talking about books, my brain would swell and ink would leak out my ears. And it’s so satisfying putting great books into people’s hands, especially ones they haven’t considered before, like High Wind in Jamaica or Jamestown. I think books are the greatest thing in the world, and being taught to read at a very young age was the best present I have ever been given. (A signed copy of Skippy Dies made out to ‘Lady McSexypants’ was a close second, though.)
If I weren’t selling books I’d be: Incarcerated. Or reading. Possibly both.
Books that changed my life: Bread and Jam for Frances by Russell Hoban. The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn. The Secret History by Donna Tartt.
Top three authors, living or dead, I’d invite to my dinner party: Flannery O’Connor, because her writing makes me feel like all the blood has been removed from my body with a shovel. Edward P. Jones, because he is an incredible writer, and I like his attitude. And Elizabeth McCracken, because she is ridiculously witty and wonderful. I hope one of them can cook, because all I have is soy yogurt and Pabst Blue Ribbon in my fridge
Top three songs on the soundtrack to my life: At this moment, I’d have to say “I’ll Believe in Anything,” by Wolf Parade, “Goddamn Lonely Love,” by Drive-By Truckers, and “The Funeral,” by Band of Horses. Although, that moment in “Tribute” by Tenacious D when they say “ROCK” also sums it up nicely.
My last meal request: Vanilla soy yogurt, mashed potatoes, strawberries, saag paneer and Knob Creek.