Book Brahmin: Anton Bogomazov

photo: Hanna Depp

Anton Bogomazov is the events inventory manager at Politics &  Prose Bookstore in Washington, D.C. He has lived in the capital for five years, and was previously a resident of New York, Toronto, a tiny town in rural Japan and a suburb of Moscow. He reads in and across many genres, including fiction of all kinds, queer lit/nonfiction, graphic novels and comics, essays, history, science, poetry and mythology (the original fiction). You can find him on Twitter @genrebending.

On your nightstand now:

I tend to read four of five books at a time, and I try to be a good bookseller and have at least one not-yet-published book in my stack. Right now, my nightstand pile contains The Narrow Door by Paul Lisicky, The Gap of Time by Jeanette Winterson, The Fifth Season by N.K. Jemisin, Three Moments of an Explosion by China Miéville, The Core of the Sun by Johanna Sinisalo and The Queen of Night by Alexander Chee. I'm also reading the Harry Potter books in French as an attempt to revive my very rusty knowledge of that language. I read a lot of comics and graphic novels, too, but they don't normally get included in the nightstand pile.

Favorite book when you were a child:

I was heavily into Scandinavian authors as a kid (something that hasn't changed much as I got older), and my favorites were the Moomin books by Tove Jansson and Karlsson-on-the-Roof by Astrid Lindgren, which is not as well known here as her Pippi Longstocking.

Your top five authors:

Ten would probably be easier, but here you go: Caitlín R. Kiernan, China Miéville, Mikhail Bulgakov, Marina Tsvetaeva and Samuel R. Delany.

Book you've faked reading:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. I feel mildly guilty about it.

Book you're an evangelist for:

The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov. It's amusing to call myself an evangelist for a book in which Satan is one of the characters.

Preparing the Ghost by Matthew Gavin Frank. It's so delightful and strange. Plus, you get to learn words like "scapulimancy."

I know, I cheated, I didn't name just one. Let's say I'm polytheistic when it comes to books.

Book you've bought for the cover:

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke. There were two versions of the hardcover edition when it came out, one with a black raven on white, the other with a white raven on black. I remember standing in the bookstore trying to decide for at least 10 minutes which one to get. I really knew almost nothing about the book, but the cover was so stark, I had to buy it. I got the white raven one, if you're curious.

Book you hid from your parents:

I grew up with wall-to-wall bookshelves. I don't remember any books being off-limits.

Book that changed your life:

I don't have the one book that changed my life. Rather, I have waves of books, with titles adding to each other and finally making me realize something new about the myself or the world. Here's a selection of titles that were or still are incredibly important to me personally: And the Band Played On by Randy Shilts, The Nearest Exit May Be Behind You by S. Bear Bergman, Man Alive by Thomas Page McBee, Prelude to Bruise by Saeed Jones, A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara and Argonauts by Maggie Nelson.

Favorite line from a book:

My desire here is to pick something pithy, but my latest favorite line is from Ann Truitt's Daybook, simply because it conveys such a reassuring feeling of knowing your life path and purpose, and it resonates so perfectly with where I am in life right now:

"I began to see how my life had made itself as I was living it, how naturally and inevitably I had become an artist."

Five books you'll never part with:

A book of Marina Tsvetaeva's poems. Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer, because it's such a great tool for inspiration. Among Others by Jo Walton, to remind myself during December retail season that books are indeed magic. My gorgeous volumes of Neil Gaiman's Absolute Sandman (can I count these as one big book?). The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov, but wait, I'm repeating myself.

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

I'll be honest, I have terrible memory for books. It's really inconvenient professionally, since quite often all I can tell the customer is that the book was very good and had people in it. So for me, rereading is almost like reading for the first time. My pick would probably be City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer, because I remember reading it and being amazed that one could be unable to put down such a bizarre volume, both in content and structure.

Book or genre you used to avoid but now love:

I used to avoid poetry, at least in English. I had this notion that I could only relate to poetry if it were written in my native language, which is Russian. But something changed about a year ago, and I started reading a lot of poetry. I would actually sit down with eight or 10 poetry books and just eat them up one after another. I'm not sure why I suddenly changed my mind, but I think it was because I accidentally discovered some contemporary poets writing incredibly honest and often emotionally devastating poetry. My favorite poets now are Saeed Jones, Kate Tempest, Patricia Lockwood and Jamaal May.

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