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Aug 25, 2015


For our third episode, we interview Kevin Sampsell, bookseller at Powell’s Books in Portland, OR. 


Introduction [0:30]

In Which Emma & Kim Feel Like Literary Underachievers Compared to Kevin’s Many Bookish Pursuits, Then We Order Lifestyles

[0:43] When he’s not bookselling at Powell’s Books, Kevin runs the small press Future Tense Books, along with their new ebook imprint Instant Future. He’s also the author of A Common Pornography: A Memoir and This is Between Us, as well as the editor of Portland Noir



[1:13] Drink of the Day: The Lifestyle - Jameson Irish Whiskey and ginger ale (from Ablutions: Notes for a Novel by Patrick deWitt)



collage by Kevin Sampsell

Chapter I

In Which We Discuss Rad Trans & Queer Books, Talk About Customer Anti-Merchandizing Techniques, and Discover that Kevin is a Greasy Buddy Holly

[2:35] Emma’s reading Witches of America by Alex Mar (pubs 20 Oct 2015)


[2:54] Kim’s reading Furiously Happy: A Funny Book about Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson (pubs 22 Sept 2015)

Also mentioned: Let’s Pretend This Never Happened: (A Mostly True Memoir) by Jenny Lawson

[3:28] Trans/Queer books!

  1. The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson
  2. Trans: A Memoir by Juliet Jacques (pubs 22 Sept 2015)
  3. George by Alex Gino (pubs 25 Aug 2015)
  4. Please Don’t Kill the Freshman: A Memoir by Zoe Trope (Future Tense edition, here)
  5. Being by Zach Ellis



Also mentioned: the Tin House Writer’s WorkshopBad Blood Reading Series

[8:36] Kevin is reading SO MANY GOOD BOOKS RIGHT NOW

  1. The Revolution of Every Day by Cari Luna
  2. Savage Park: A Meditation on Play, Space, and Risk for Americans Who Are Nervous, Distracted, and Afraid to Die by Amy Fusselman
  3. Yet another shoutout to Lidia Yuknavitch: The Small Backs of Children and The Chronology of Water: A Memoir. Have you read her books yet? Just go do it. Right now. We’ll wait.
  4. Hollywood Notebook by Wendy C Ortiz (also mentioned: Excavation: A Memoir)
  5. Cult of Loretta by Kevin Maloney (also mentioned: Adam Wilson)



[14:37] August Releases!!

  1. The Beautiful Bureaucrat by Helen Phillips
  2. The Scamp by Jennifer Pashley
  3. Voices in the Ocean: A Journey Into the Wild and Haunting World of Dolphins by Susan Casey
  4. Eileen by Ottessa Moshfegh



Chapter II

In Which Kevin Discusses Working at Powell’s (Largest Bookstore in the World?), The Power of Small Presses, and Publishing E-Books

[20:58] Powell’s City of Books Store Map

[23:46] White Elephants: On Yard Sales, Relationships, and Finding What Was Missing by Katie Haegele

[24:20] Weirde Sister by James Gendron (coming 2016 from Octopus Books - check out an excerpt to get psyched)

[24:39] Sexual Boat (Sex Boats) by James Gendron

[32:56] Some authors that have moved between Small Presses and Big Publishers:

  1. Alissa Nutting - Unclean Jobs for Women and GirlsTampa
  2. Lindsay Hunter - Daddy’sDon’t Kiss MeUgly Girls
  3. Maggie Nelson - Bluets



Small Presses Mentioned: StarcheroneFeatherproofWave

[36:10] Future Tense’s e-book imprint Instant Future

[36:44] Starvation Mode by Elissa Washuta (author of My Body is a Book of Rules)

Chapter III

In Which We Talk About Even More Awesome August Releases, Kevin Observing Customers Buying His Book, Author Crushes, and MORE BOOKS

[40:22] More August Releases:

  1. Dome of the Hidden Pavilion: New Poems by James Tate
  2. New American Stories, edited by Ben Marcus (who previously edited The Anchor Book of New American Short Stories)



Pro-tip: the bathroom at Powell’s is upstairs in the Purple Room. Now you know.

[44:05] Kevin’s Go-To Handsells

  1. A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews (available in paperback Jan 2016)
  2. Stories in the Worst Way by Gary Lutz



Also mentioned: All My Puny Sorrows by Miriam Toews, Home Land by Sam Lipsyte

[46:57] Kevin’s Impossible Handsells

  1. Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso
  2. Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures by Phoebe Gloeckner



Also mentioned: George SaundersLydia DavisBarry HannahDonald Ray Pollock

[48:45] How to Keep Up with ALL the Books?



[49:00] Reading Backlist: Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

[49:30] Short chapters: Dept. of Speculation by Jenny Offill

[50:17] Kevin’s Station Eleven/Wild/Desperate Desert Island Books books

  1. Stories in the Worst Way by Gary Lutz
  2. The Age of Wire and String by Ben Marcus
  3. Sorrow Arrow by Emily Kendal Frey
  4. Sharon Olds (author of Stag’s Leap)



[Collage by Kevin Sampsell, using the cover of Sorrow Arrow by Emily Kendal Frey]

[52:07] Kevin’s Favorite Bookstores (other than Powell’s)

  1. Skylight Books in Los Angeles, CA
  2. McNally Jackson in New York City, NY
  3. Reading Frenzy in Portland, OR

[52:46] Kevin’s Favorite Literary Media

  1. OTHERPPL with Brad Listi Podcast (Kevin was on Episode 227)
  2. Noon Literary Annual

[53:50] Last Book Kevin Gifted: Do It Yourself Guide To Fighting the Big Motherfuckin Sad by Adam Gnade

Also mentioned: Dear Shane: a Mental Health Resource About Staying Alive by Craig Kelly


In Which Kevin Tells Us All the Places YOU Can Find Him On the Internets

Find Emma on Twitter @thebibliot and writing nerdy bookish things for Book Riot. Kim occasionally tweets at @finaleofseem. And you can follow both of us [as a podcast] on Twitter @drunkbookseller!




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