Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Generally Horrible Questions: Jeremy Ellis

Jeremy at the Tadao Ando-designed museum in Ft. Worth.
The man appreciates art and design.
Jeremy Ellis is the new(ish) manager at Brazos Bookstore in Houston, Texas.  He started the job in August, but has been working in bookstores off and on for most of his career.  We decided that the best form of hazing is to submit him to our list of questions.  Welcome to the neighborhood, Jeremy!

Generally Horrible Questions: Jeremy Ellis

1. How did you get into the bookselling business?
It was completely accidental. I was 22, out-of-work, and there was a bookstore at a mall I liked. I thought I would do it for awhile and then, eventually, find my calling. Since that job, I've only had brief interruptions from independent bookstore jobs. [Just when I thought I was out....they pull me back in?  Watch out for horse heads in your sheets, there, Jeremy.]
Brazos Bookstore
2. What's the best experience you've had working at the bookstore?
It's hard to pick just one experience. But I guess I could choose one per gig. As a bookseller at Taylor's Books in Dallas, meeting Anne Perry the day after seeing the Peter Jackson film 'Heavenly Creatures' which details the true story of Anne's early life as a killer. As a bookseller at Trudy's Fireside Books, author and illustrator David Small handselling me Rule of the Bone by Russell Banks. As the event guy at BookPeople, hosting David Sedaris during his Me Talk Pretty One Day tour. As Marketing Director at BookPeople, my proudest moment was when the original 'This is My Favorite Book' was picked up by independent bookstores nationwide as the model holiday catalog. At Legacy Books and A Real Bookstore in Dallas, developing their websites. And now, at Brazos, my best days are those where I get to really talk to customers and help them find the book they didn't know they urgently needed. 
3. What book(s) changed your life?
I've read plays for years and years and they really have had the most visceral impact on my life. Both parts of Tony Kushner's Angels in America radically changed the ways in which I thought about myself and America. I think Arcadia by Tom Stoppard is one of the most perfect pieces of literature of the 20th century. I return to the short plays of Samuel Beckett time and time again for their optimistic outlook. [Gianna's scared of thespians....]

4. What are you currently reading?
I just finished Canada by Richard Ford. It is one of the best novels I've ever read. Also just finished Jeanette Winterson's memoir, Why Be Happy When You Can Be Normal?. It is a remarkable book. I'm very excited to get into Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter Scott, but top of the stack, demanding immediate attention is What We Talk About When We Talk About Anne Frank by Nathan Englander. [Damn straight. We will expect a book report about the Nathan Englander book next week.]
This one should
be on everyone's
reading list right now.
5. What's your #1 pick for reading groups?
Nausea by Jean Paul Sartre. I'm not usually allowed to lead reading groups.

6. Would you rather....David Mitchell, David Foster Wallace, David Sedaris
First, David Sedaris, because he makes me laugh.
Second, David Mitchell, because he makes me dream.
Third, David Foster Waller, because he makes me hurt.
[Fourth, David Arquette, because he makes you gag?]

7. What's the biggest lie ever told by a sales rep?
Nicholas Sparks was a passing trend.
8. What's your second favorite bookstore?

9. Gianna or Liz?
I love them equally for different reasons. I will never specify what these reasons are, lest Liz sick Zorro on me. [REALLY?  Why must we keep repeating this?  The correct answer is ALWAYS Liz.  Always.  Because Liz is the one who posts the stuff on the blog and she says so.]

10. The most depressing book you've ever read?
Jeremy (right) and his brother in
front of Brazos.
She's Come Undone by Wally Lamb was a downer, but I really enjoyed it. This was Oprah's second book club choice. I read it reluctantly, but ended up really loving it.

11. I've never read ____________.  And I'm so ashamed.
Any of the Harry Potter books. I'm not that ashamed.

12. Celebrity Memoir (Death is not an option): Snooki, Justin Bieber, 
Paris Hilton, Kardashian Konfidential.
Justin Bieber. On the day he begins his public meltdown, I'll be able to pull factoids about his life out and say I saw it coming all along. And that hair... (Of course, I'm mesmerized by Snooki's mustache as well.)

13. Dumbest question ever asked by a customer?
Q: I see your fiction section. Where do you keep your non-fiction books?
A: Everywhere that isn't our fiction section.
14. I wanted to be a ___________ when I grew up.
A Broadway musical theatre star. Get a glass or two of wine in me, and I can't stop singing show tunes.
15. ________________ is my favorite book ever.
Too hard... Different eras of my life have had different favorites. During my late teens and early twenties it was Less Than Zero by Bret Easton Ellis. But then I met him, and he was kind of a jerk to me, and my youthful angst was receding. Anymore, I don't really have a single title that is my Number One. I love books for their individual ambitions and successes. [Are you just scared to say Twilight?  It's okay.  We'll eventually forgive you.]

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