Meet the Bookseller with Ed Moreno

We chat with Ed Moreno about Margaret Atwood’s talent for mythmaking and how Pablo Neruda’s writing prompted him to move to Central America.


Why do you work in books?

As soon as I was able to read, Dad made a chart which involved a specific reward for each book on the chart; I’d receive the reward once I’d read the book and told Dad what I thought of it. The reward usually involved more books, which we’d pencil into the chart, and so on, and so on. Later, my first real job was at a bookstore.

How would you describe your own taste in books?

I’m drawn to the dark, stark nature of the nineteenth-century Russian realists and French naturalists and to the American Southern - or Appalachian-Gothic writers who follow on from that particular branch of storytelling. These days, this lives on in Cormac McCarthy, Daniel Woodrell, Ron Rash and their ilk, stuff which I love.

Who has the best book cover?

I’m a little partial to Kenneth Mackenzie’s The Young Desire It which is available as a larger format Text Classic. I’m not sure if I’m so taken with it because of the text between the covers or not, but I love the illustration on the front with its bright colours, and the larger format gives it a bit of class.

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Which book would you happily spend a weekend indoors with?

On a recent trip to Rio, I found myself torn between reading or seeing the sights. I chose my book and kept the curtains drawn until I’d read the final word. The book was Zola’s The Drinking Den and even though I’d read it previously, I couldn’t bear to tear myself away from Zola’s heartrending descriptions of nineteenth-century Paris, and the tragic Gervaise, with her dreams of rising out of the slums.

Name a book that has changed the way you think, in ways small or large.

Pablo Neruda’s Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair prompted me to move to Central America to study Latin American literature. It changed the way I thought about everything: it gave me goosebumps and made me fall further in love with the world and with language. I had heard that people recited Neruda’s poetry from memory on street corners all over Latin America, something I had to see for myself.

What’s the best book you’ve read lately and why?

I seriously loved Margaret Atwood’s MaddAdam for the simple reason that sentence-by-sentence, line-by-line, it’s incredibly funny and smart. Every sentence is another wry observation. I honestly loved every word in the book and couldn’t wait to pick it up again; I took it everywhere I went. The characters and the story are all so entertaining, and the narrative plays on concepts of storytelling and mythmaking.