Nate Perkins, manager of Trident Booksellers, talks book recommendations, memorable store moments, and the literary scene in Boulder, Colorado.
By Jennifer Jackson
How was Trident Booksellers Founded?
Trident was founded in 1979 by three Buddhist students. This was maybe five years after Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman started the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa. There was a lot of literary, spiritual, and artistic energy in Boulder at the time.
What do you love most about your bookstore?
The community that makes up Trident is pretty amazing. Because we’ve been around for so long, and because we’re also a café, there’s a great mix of regulars and newcomers, old hippies and college freshmen, tech geeks and psychedelic freaks. It’s like one big (mostly functional) family.
What book do you recommend most, and why?
Lately I’ve been recommending two books over and over: The Sarah Book by Scott McClanahan and The Meadow by James Galvin. What these two novels have in common, and what makes them really speak to me, are the hardscrabble characters whose relationships are molded from the places in which they exist. This identity of place allows for a full-spectrum depiction of the human experience that is at once hilarious and heartbreaking. I can’t get enough from either of these writers.
What’s the last great book you read?
I was fortunate enough to be able to snag a pre-release copy of This is the End of Something but it’s Not the End of You by Adam Gnade (Pioneers Press, 2020). It’s about fighting for a better life, and it has cowboys and punks in it. I can’t wait until February when it comes out and the rest of the world gets to enjoy it, too.
What’s the most unique or memorable thing that’s happened at the bookstore?
Last year Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth fame) came in, picked out a bunch of cool books, put them on hold, and then never came back to buy them. Ha!
What are the big book trends at your store right now?
Right now, here and seemingly everywhere else in America, people love Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and The Testaments. In the past year or so, people have also been real into Nico Walker’s Cherry, Ottessa Moshfegh’s My Year of Rest and Relaxation, and Juliet Escoria’s Juliet the Maniac.
Who are some of the local authors you’ve gotten to know or would recommend?
Ella Longpre, Benjamin Rietema, and Big Bruiser Dope Boy. Ella is a poet and the author of How to Keep You Alive (Civil Coping Mechanisms, 2017). I can’t wait to see what she puts out next. Ben Rietema is a humor writer who has become a cult favorite in Boulder. He writes a newsletter called The Squid Weekly and distributes it for free around town. He’s collected the essays into two volumes. I can’t keep them on the shelf. Big Bruiser Dope Boy lives in Denver and just put out his first book, Your First Real Boyfriend & Other Poems (Clash Books, 2019), which has received much popular acclaim.
What’s the biggest surprise about working at a bookstore?
People buy books! You hear over and over about how brick-and-mortar bookstores are dead and about how people only read on their e-readers (if they read at all), but there’s a great community here, full of people with excellent taste.
What’s your all-time favorite bookstore (other than your own)?
Powell’s City of Books in Portland, OR. Walking into the small press section is like walking through the pearly gates, for me.
Visit Trident Booksellers & Cafe at 940 Pearl Street, Boulder, Colorado; online at tridentcafe.com.