Where do you work and how long have you been there?
The Seminary Co-op Bookstores, which includes the Seminary Co-op and 57th Street Books. I have been there for just over four years and an enthusiast for 25 years.
Where might we be surprised that you have also worked?
I spent two years as a live-work writer at the Djerassi Resident Artist Program in Woodside, California. I lived in a cabin in the middle of a 580-acre redwood forest spotted with site-specific sculptures. I had a view of the Pacific Ocean and Neil Young’s barn (he lived next door). I would drive to Redwood City at least once a week where the inimitable Walter Martin ran Chimera, a bookstore that specialized in French poetry (Martin translated a volume of the complete Baudelaire) and classical records. His taste was impeccable and he refused my many offers to work for books. That rejection was something I grew accustomed to: Moe’s Books in Berkeley, Twice Sold Tales in Seattle, Walden Pond Books in Oakland, and Graywolf Books in San Leandro (Tommy Orange used to work there) all refused me.
What do you like to read? What's your current favorite book to handsell?
While I’ll read anything that catches my interest or is enthusiastically recommended by someone I trust, left to my own tendencies, I read poetry, modernist literature, sacred texts, and books on “how to live and what to do”. Some current favorite handsells include Simone Weil’s Gravity and Grace, Clarice Lispector’s Agua Viva, Martin Buber’s recently reissued Daniel, and Princeton’s latest take on Cicero, How to Be a Friend. And Whitman always.
Who are you when you're not in the store?
A shy reader who takes great joy in spending time with my wife in our shared library and our shaded garden. And an inveterate patron of bookstores and libraries.
What's your favorite bookstore other than the one you work in?
I love mission-driven bookstores as well as bookstores that perfectly represent their communities. I think Women and Children First is a vibrant and exceptional bookstore whose current owners have done a wonderful job preserving their storied history while establishing a vision for a store that fits that historic character but serves a 21st century customer. City Lights is sublime, especially their poetry room. Uncle Bobbie’s is a joyful space with a brilliant collection. Moe’s Books might be one of the best bookstores in the country, and I have lamented not having had an opportunity to have met Moe Moskowitz, the visionary founder (I feel the same way about the legendary Stuart Brent). I have a deep respect for Boswell’s and the work that Daniel Goldin does creating and reflecting his brilliant community. And Wild Rumpus, of course, is pure magic.