One of the very best things about publishing books is meeting the amazing minds behind independent bookstores all over. Our next spotlight is with superstar Molly Rose Quinn, the Director of Public Programming at Housing Works Bookstore Cafe, a nonprofit bookstore and event venue that raises money to fight AIDS and homelessness. Her poems appear or are forthcoming in PEN Poetry Series , Black Warrior Review , The Offing , The Agriculture Reader , and many other places. Her interviews and criticism appear in The Atlas Review , Literary Hub , The L Magazine , SCOUT poetry review, and The Brooklyn Rail . She is a fiction committee member for the Brooklyn Book Festival and co-organizer of the Moby-Dick Marathon NYC.
Incidentally, Catapult is also hosting the launch of Jane Alison’s Nine Island with Housing Works next month. Come see us!
1. What have you been up to lately?
I’m on an airplane right now. Airplane wifi prices are thievery. Recently I was reminded that travel makes me happier so I’m doing it more. I spent July on the road. I saw friends, gave a reading, wrote, read, swam, walked, saw family, visited bookstores, and, probably best of all, spent time with incredible artists and activists and organizers in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. Since I got back to New York, I have nearly solidified Housing Works’s fall calendar—over half of which were confirmed just since the start of August. Yesterday, I sent out a proposal for a new project to my board members—it’s one part of two new initiatives I have been hoping for for some time, and I keep refreshing my inbox to see if anyone has replied. I’ve been reading Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad ; today I underlined the phrase “rheumy and bewildered.” When I finish this I’m going to write in a notebook for a little. Tomorrow I’m getting a massage in Idaho.
2. What do you love about Housing Works Bookstore Cafe?
The people who employ me hold the outrageous notion that pursuing my joys and ambitions outside of the office makes me more a creative and generous leader when I’m in the office. Seriously, y’all, get in on this racket.
3. Favorite album?
Otis Redding’s “Try A Little Tenderness” is the tightest four minutes in the history of this earth, but since that doesn’t answer your question, #1 Record, Big Star.
4. The number of amazing events you plan is astounding; are you sure you’re not a robot? Prove to me in one sentence that you’re a human:
See above re: Idaho.
5. I’m still suspicious. Where were you on the night of July 27th?
Ha! The 27th . . . I had one of the best dinners of my life, with Nicole Dennis-Benn, her partner Emma, Tiphanie Yanique, Glory Edim, and Michael Taekens. Do y’all know about these humans? And then I got us lost walking three blocks from a restaurant to my own bookstore. And then Nicole, Tiphanie, and Glory had a big, glowing conversation onstage at Housing Works and the audience asked the most wonderful questions and I drank a beer while it was happening and the event went long (see aforementioned getting lost + beer) and I didn’t even care (I owe you one, hardworking coworkers and volunteers).
6. A likely story. What’s your favorite children’s book?
Le Petit Prince.
7. If books and bookstores were banned from the face of the earth, how would you make a living?
8. What was the last piece of media you consumed that disappointed you?
LORDY that cursed child.
9. Is there a book published in the last three years you wish got a little more love?
I hate these questions because who am I to quantify the kind of noise a certain writer wants and buzz shouldn’t be a meritocracy, but I am always ready to have more conversations about Shane McCrae, and his Blood .
10. You’re the protagonist in a science-fiction thriller set in the year 40XX. What is your code name?
Molly Rose Quinn.
11. You’ve unfortunately compromised your entire team by giving up your code name so easily. Will you rescue them with a laser sword, an antimatter gun, or a beam whip?
Can I change my code name to “beam whip”?
12. Who stole the cookies from the cookie jar?
Me, to make an ice cream sandwich with.
13. What book would do you wish could be a movie?
Two Serious Ladies .
14. What movie do you wish could be a book?
15. What would you title your memoir?
Google Docs on Airplanes
16. Do robots dream of electric rams?
Wait, are you a robot?
17. What’s something you’re surprised you still remember from high school?
Lord of the Flies .
18. You have to purchase an article of clothing that is exactly 50% your favorite color and 50% your least favorite color. What does it look like?
People have least favorite colors? How is that possible? Like an entire color is just always the least thing you want to see?
19. Did the typo in question eight totally freak you out?
I corrected it for you because I’m the worst. [She did, in fact.]
20. Do you have a fond bookstore memory you can share?
On my first day at work, Anne Carson was eating a muffin in the cafe when I arrived.