Behind the Trade Counter with Book Department Supervisor Marshall
Obviously we’re biased, but Bookmans has the best employees. Marshall, Book Department Supervisor at Bookmans Grant, is one such person. Few others can share the raunchiest video on YouTube and then politely and respectfully show a customer where Little Women is, all the while keeping a straight face. We uncovered the truth about Marshall, including his memorable customer deals and favorite reads.
What keeps you working at Bookmans these past 13 years?
At some point I realized I wouldn’t get as much vacation anywhere else, I wouldn’t get health insurance that was as good or as cheap and I definitely wouldn’t work with people I like so I just kind of stuck around. I don’t do it for the stuff. A lot of people who work here keep doing it for the stuff. I’m not so into it. I’ve been trying to get rid of everything because I’m surrounded by it all day and I don’t want it in my house.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve seen a customer do?
Die. Probably die. I don’t know. Drink openly from a bottle of Listerine maybe? This question is a can of worms. I’ve had other jobs where people have been like, “look at this customer or that customer.” I just think, whatever, I work at Bookmans. I’ve looked crazy in its cold, dead eyes. We also have the absolute best customers in the whole city. I don’t have any doubt about that. It’s a strange dichotomy.
What have been the coolest books to come across our trade counter?
That’s a tough one. I’ve seen some cool stuff, from a first edition Great Gatsby (stolen) to Helmut Newton’s Sumo. There have been so many cool books. I waited a long time for a William Eggleston book to come in and was so happy to finally get it. There’s one I’ve been waiting for the whole time I worked here called the Phantom Blooper by Gustave Hasford. I refuse to buy it online. I’m waiting for it. I like the books you pick up randomly that turn out to have a real impact on you and just catch you completely off guard. I Look Divine by Christopher Coe, Christy Malry’s Double Entry by B.S. Johnson and Dreaming Jungles by Michael Rio are a few of those.
What would the ideal book deal have?
The ideal book deal has extremely clean books in it. In particular it has nothing that came from or fell out of a cat.
If you could recommend one book to our customers, what would it be?
I usually tell people my favorite book is The Moviegoer by Walker Percy so I can have one to say is my favorite. I don’t know how well most people would like it. The main character has a dumb name, which usually turns me off and is why I can’t read Thomas Pynchon or most fantasy novels, but I really like the voice. I’ve never read any other Walker Percy books. I don’t think there’s just one book that everyone needs to read but I would urge people to read books written by people who don’t have the same viewpoint as you.
What’s your favorite ’90s jam?
Dirty Boots by Sonic Youth or Bed for Scraping by Fugazi.
If you could have one superpower what would it be?
I would give 5 to 7 years of my life to dunk a basketball.
Which dead author would you like to have a conversation with?
Flannery O’Connor is a favorite but I feel like I’ve read so much about her that I wouldn’t have that much to say. Maybe William Lindsay Gresham who wrote Nightmare Alley and whose wife left him for C.S. Lewis. Then he drank himself to death. So, he sounds fun.
Next time you gaze upon the literary offerings on our orange shelves at Bookmans Grant in appreciation of the variety and quality of the titles, know that is a reflection of your offerings and Marshall’s keen eye. We enjoy having Marshall in the Bookmans family and hope that we have many more years of respectful and irreverent years working along side him.
* Bookmans is your store to explore. We can’t guarantee stock so if you are interested in a particular book or CD that Marshall recommends, please give us a call and we’ll check our orange shelves for you. Otherwise, we hope you will come and browse.