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Twenty + Twenty Five

On November 25th, 1997 (it was a Tuesday), I started working at Powell’s. I couldn’t have guessed that I’d still be there twenty years later or what an important part of my life it would be. Being a bookseller, event coordinator, and champion of small presses at the largest bookstore in the world feels like my calling, perhaps even more important than being a writer or publisher.
But all of this time–this life–wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t fell in love with the transformative act of reading. Before bookselling, before writing, before publishing, I was a reader.
Working at Powell’s has been such a rewarding experience and the people I’ve worked with are truly my family. Thanks to everyone who has made these first twenty years such a wonderful experience. đź’•

Also–this past summer marked 25 years in Portland total! Fun fact: The first five years I lived in Portland, I worked at a convenience store for a couple of months and then ran an espresso cart business with the mother of my son.


Hey, check the Fictions page for a couple of new stories that recently went up. Including this one that just went up at The Elephants and this one from last month at apt. BTW–One of my absolute fave books of the year is The Week by Joanna Ruocco and it was published by The Elephants. I highly recommend this brilliant collection of stories.


Mom’s Fading Mind

I wrote an essay about my mom’s struggles with Alzheimer’s and it was published at Longreads. It was a hard and emotional thing to write but was greatly aided by recordings I made of various conversations with my mom. Here are some photos of my mother, who is still living in the Olympia area. We’re working on getting her into a more full-time care facility. In the past few months, her behavior has become more agitated and she sometimes acts violent. She’s been on anti-depressants for over a year but sometimes refuses to take them. Lately, she has attempted to get out of the car when my brother Mark is driving her somewhere. She’ll say that they’re going the wrong direction and try to open the door as the car is moving. Along with losing memory, she has become manic and fearful.

I know a lot of people who have dealt with this terrible disease or are currently doing so. I hope those people will find some kind of comfort in this essay and remember who the Alzheimer’s patient/loved one was before the disease. I really hope that someday they find some kind of cure.


Patsy holding Elinda (w someone named Jean)

Mom holding Elinda, her first child

Patsy (w: dog) & Her Sister Betty

Mom, holding her dog with one of her sisters

Mom w Dad (probably late 1950s)

Mom with Dad, probably late 1950s


Mom in 1934

Mom in her Hallway2017

Mom in the hallway where she continuously walks in laps, August 2017

Patsy on Tire


Goodbye 2016

It’s almost over, folks. The nightmare that was 2016 is coming to a halt. Sure, there were a few good things but let’s be real–society and the world lost its shit.

But let’s try to spin back to some good stuff. A few things I feel good about lately…

I talked about some of my fave books of the year for this Portland Mercury roundup.

I also talked about hyping the new Mary Ruefle beauty at Publishers Weekly.

This book by one of my new favorite writers (you’ll be hearing about her more in 2017 for sure).

Joe Bonomo finds some sweet nostalgia in A Common Pornography and Bruce Springsteen’s memoir. 

This cool new book about collage.

Fear No Lit asked me to make a collage with this weird stock photo and Jamie Mortara wrote an awesome poem to go with it.

The beautiful movie Moonlight.

A new season of Nashville!!

I’m keeping busy with more Future Tense releases–the Meredith Alling books is fresh out the oven and Gary Lutz is coming SOON!

Okay, folks. Let’s catch up again soon. Hopefully after all this cold and gloom goes away.



The Beauty of Passing Through

Oh wow. It’s like I had a summer vacation or something (yeah, right).

But some cool stuff has been happening and I’m here to update!

I have a new story in the City of Weird anthology! It’s a book that’s been haunting lots of Portland bookshelves lately (it’s a bestseller at Powell’s). In a book full of scary tales and weirdness, my story is about riding public transit in Portland. Thanks, Gigi Little! Boo!


I’ll be reading my story at Lit Crawl this Friday the 4th. It’s also Wordstock this weekend and I’ll be roaming around there a lot to see friends and look at books.

I have a show of mostly new collages up at Rudy’s Barbershop on SE Division in Portland. It’s called The Beauty of Passing Through. I’m really pleased with it. Many of the pieces were made just in the last month inside the “Collage Garage,” the art studio in the backyard of my new home in Northeast Portland. It’s a space I share with fellow collage artist Kurtiss Lofstrom. We’re thinking about opening it up for shows and events sometime in 2017. Stay tuned. In the meantime, I hope you’ll come to the reception of my Rudy’s show on November 17th.

Colorblind Child, collage, 2016

Colorblind Child, collage, 2016

I’ll also be in Los Angeles this month! You know I love L.A. and all my peoples there. I’ll be at the book release party on November 19th for Meredith Alling’s debut, Sing the Song, which I’m publishing on Future Tense. So pumped for this book! Always exciting to find daring new writers and help them get their genius out in the world.

from Future Tense Books

from Future Tense Books

What else?

I was on the Go Away, I’m Reading podcast and we talked for so long it became a two-parter

I haven’t been working on my next novel as much as I want to this year but I am working on other writing, including essays on anxiety and sports…

I collaborated with Siel Ju on this great illustrated story for 7×7 called Vaseline

My poem “Anti-Extinct” is now available as a tote bag (and T-shirt) from Backwords Press…

I voted for Hillary

I’ve been reading a lot (often too many books at once!). My faves this year have been by Ottessa Moshfegh, Rob Roberge, Melissa Broder, Mary Ruefle, Jon-Michael Frank, and Chelsea Martin

and like so many other folks, I have been listening to Angel Olsen.

Feeling the Love in Los Angeles

I had such a fantastic time in Los Angeles this past week for AWP. I want to thank Jamie Iredell for organizing and hosting the Future Tense anniversary reading at AWP. I also want to thank Justin Maurer for putting me up at his homestead again and for setting up the great Future Tense off-site reading at the Redwood Bar. And thanks to the Timberline Review folks for letting me share their table.

It was so fun to talk to so many people at the Future Tense table at the book fair and to sell SO MANY books as well. A lot of people said they thought the Future Tense anniversary panel/reading was their favorite and that they could feel the love in the room. It was such an honor to be in that room with Jamie, as well as Chelsea Martin, Wendy C. Ortiz, and Meredith Alling (and Chelsea Hodson in the audience) and to see a great turnout for it. I LOVE being a publisher and ushering these amazing people and books into the world, into peoples’ hands–into hearts and brains. I freakin’ love it! This year’s AWP left me feeling so inspired and appreciated. I appreciate you all back, so so much.

Here are pics of some of my AWP highlights.


Beginning of the book fair on Thursday!


Jamie Iredell, dapper southern gent and literary powerhouse


I read a little bit from a few of the Future Tense chapbooks at the anniversary reading. And also gave out Spudnut doughnuts to the morning crowd.


I went to see Wendy C. Ortiz get a Lulu Award and sat with these stars: Cheryl Strayed, Melissa Chadburn, and Lauren Eggert-Crowe


Later, at the Standard Hotel rooftop party, there were pods with waterbeds in them. Wendy C. Ortiz gets comfortable.


Here’s upcoming Future Tense author Meredith Alling and Wendy by the pool


With Meredith in very uncomfortable chairs by the poolside


Big crowds at the panels, like this one for the “Year of Magical Thinking” panel I was on. It wasn’t about Joan Didion. It was about the first year of your debut book’s life.


Always fun to make Myriam Gurba laugh. She has the best laugh. And the best hair.


Sean Kilpatrick owns the floor (and kicks a chair across the room) for the Dark Fucking Wizard reading Friday night.


Awesome to see Brandi Wells also read for Dark Fucking Wizard.


Meredith Alling reads about an ancient ham at the Dark Fucking Wizard reading.


Awesome to see Monica Drake’s book on this Small Press Distribution display.


And to see Ooligan Press captain Abbey Gaterud (the day before I saw old friend Kait Heacock, who they’re publishing later this year).


Before going to AWP, I found one lone copy of Chelsea Hodson’s highly sought-after chapbook, Pity the Animal, and packed it with the rest of he books. On Friday, while taking a break from the table, Meredith Alling (salesperson of the month!) sold it to an excited fan for $50. I wanted to give the money to Chelsea, but she’s too dang sweet and generous to take it.


Ran into Kattywompus Press’s Sammy Greenspan after spotting Leah Umansky’s books on display.


Finally met the fabulous Ashley Perez in person


I didn’t get a lot of time to wander around the book fair, but I did get a few breaks thanks to Jamie, Meredith, and Darkmouth Strikes Again author Jay Ponteri. Here are the much anticipated books I’ll be reading soon by Natalie Eilbert, Ben Mirov, Chelsea Martin, Melissa Broder, John Colasacco, and Lincoln Michel.


Saturday night wrapped up with the 17 Television/Future Tense Books reading. Meredith Alling killed it again at the Redwood (one of the highlight of the whole trip was seeing her read THREE times in three days–good practice for her book readings later this year).


One of my favorite writers, Zoë Ruiz, at the Redwood


Thanks again for everyone who stopped by to say hi and check out the Future Tense stuff. We even officially sold out of our print run for May-Lan Tan’s Girly.

I’m not sure if I’ll be going next year or not. Washington D.C. is great but maybe too far away. We’ll wait and see. But for now, the L.A. AWP was such a good one and will be one to remember for a long time. Thanks again, my friends.

I Be All Up in AWP

Friends! Oh, friends! Such fun times happening right now and in the near future. I’ll be at AWP in Los Angeles this week. What does that stand for? There are many different interpretations but I think it means Awesome Writer Party.

Here’s where I will be when I’m not at the Future Tense booth (table #106–come say hark!)…

Thursday morning Future Tense anniversary reading

Friday morning panel on getting your first book to print

Saturday night reading at The Redwood Bar

I have so many friends that live in L.A. It’s going to be beautiful to see Zoe Ruiz, Meredith Alling, Melissa Chadburn, Davy Rothbart, Ariel Maccarone, Myriam Gurba, Wendy C. Ortiz, Amelia Gray, Justin Maurer, Stephen Kurowski, Michelle Tea, and all the rest of you warm weather angels .

See y’all at the hotel pool!

Splash Up

Thank You

I’m extremely excited to be one of the recipients of the James Patterson Bookseller Holiday Bonuses for this year. I was one of 87 folks to get one (out of 2,848 nominations) and I realize how lucky I am to be recognized in the vast, impressive landscape of book lovers working at independent stores everywhere. I wanted to take a moment to talk about how important this job is to me.

I started at Powell’s in November of 1997. But just a few years before that, I was just a dude who never went to a real college, was barely interested in books as a kid, and probably thought Tennessee Williams was a baseball player. I had finally picked up the habit (the addiction!) of reading when I was 22 years old. I would choose books by the covers, their reputations in history (banned books were of particular interest), the stories of their troubled authors. I didn’t know many readers when I started reading. I didn’t know who to ask for recommendations.

It’s funny how your trajectory as a reader can be forever determined by one book or one author. I recall particular booksellers in Spokane, Seattle, Fort Smith, Arkansas, and Portland that put books into my hands that would alter my brain and my life. In Spokane, that book was The Abortion by Richard Brautigan. In Seattle, it was Jesse Bernstein’s Personal Effects and Dennis Cooper’s Closer. In Fort Smith, it was Mary Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior. In Portland, it was Gordon Lish’s Dear Mr. Capote, Kathy Acker’s Blood and Guts in High School.

When I started at Powell’s, I would observe how other booksellers would help customers with such kindness and intelligence. Specifically, those customers who asked us, with all the trust in the world, “What book should I read next?” Throughout the years, these have been my favorite sort of customers, especially if they say things like, “I just got into southern fiction” or “I want something funny” or “I want to know more about Portland poets” or “I like heartbreaking Mennonite authors.” These kind of statements make my heart pitter-patter. For them I offer: Barry Hannah, William Gay…Jonathan Ames, Myriam Gurba…Emily Kendal Frey, James Gendron…Miriam Toews! And I could go on.

When you do something for eighteen years, you’ll probably get good at it. Especially if you watch and learn from those around you. Some of the best booksellers I’ve known starts with Vanessa Renwick, who as the mother of the legendary small press section, showed me the value of helping out tiny presses, the self-publishers, the scrappy zinesters, and the industrious literary weirdos of Portland and beyond. I’ve written elsewhere on Vanessa’s importance to where I am today. There’s also the late Marty Kruse (who also ran the small press section before me), and other fantastic ex-cohorts like Steffen Silvis, Meredith Schreiber, Elizabeth Miller, Aaron Gilbreath, Joseph Lappie, Jessica Patton, Nicolette Lind, and Liz Olufson. Currently, I work with bookselling superstars like Gin Enguehard, Jason Chan, Jacob Schraer, McKenzie Workman, Chris Faatz, Dianah Hughley, Liz Vogan, Linda Watson, Mark Savage, Chris Hagen, Tove Holmberg, Santi Elijah Holley, Ryan Hall, and so many others that could fill several blog posts.

Anyone who loves books and places books into readers’ hands is a person whose value is beyond measure. Our position–as recommenders, taste-makers, readers, sellers, book displayers, etc.–is important to culture. Heck, it’s important to the whole world! It’s maybe the most important thing I do in my life. When I meet people outside of work and they ask what I do, I don’t start off by saying I’m a writer or publisher or collage artist or whatever. I always start by saying, “I work at Powell’s.”

Here’s a photo of me with Carol Easter, another member of the Powell’s bookseller family, standing in front of the James Patterson books at the store. Mr. Patterson seems to know the importance of books, readers, and bookstores. His website shows not just his mammoth bibliography but also his inspiring array of community service. Thanks to everyone who voted for me for this award. Come in any time and I’ll help you find a book.