Tonight, the story slinger departs from its usual terrain of young adult and middle grade fiction and nonfiction. Instead, I’m celebrating the life of a great bookman, Kevin Morrissey.
I first met Kevin when he was in charge of the wonderful series of author events at the late, great Hungry Mind bookstore in St. Paul. By that time, he’d already worked as a sales rep for the University of Oxford Press. From Hungry Mind, he went on to manage another independent bookstore, do sales and marketing for presses large and small, work for a regional book distributor, and become the managing editor for a small literary journal. I know I’m leaving things out, but you get the idea. There was hardly any area in the field of books and literature in which Kevin didn’t have an amazing amount of experience.
He was, in short, a consummate bookman. Long after he stopped working retail, he was still hand-selling books, telling friends what titles we needed to seek out. Whatever story I was struggling with as a writer, he was there to offer encouragement.
If he were alive today, I’m sure Kevin would be a) giving me advice on sales & promotion for my next book b) urging his friend, Waldo, to shop around a proposal on The ‘Impossible’ Cheeseburger and c) sending picture books and Lego encyclopedias to his youngest friends.
Here he is with one friend, Helen—to whom he gave a copy of Margaret Wise Brown’s Goodnight Moon as a ‘just-home-from-the-hospital’ gift. The photo up top is from before I met Kevin, when he was living in Milwaukee, and had yet to begin his long career in books.