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David Rees

January 2, 2013
Photo by Meredith Heuer

Photo by Meredith Heuer

David Rees used to be a political cartoonist. The comic Get Your War On was his popular cynical strip made up of clip art and heavy use of expletives. But, as Rees had promised, he finished his work on the comic at the end of the Bush administration and found himself at a crossroads. He took a job with the 2010 census. At his first training, Rees was handed a packet with all the materials he would need to knock on doors and take census information. In the packet was a #2 pencil and a sharpener – it was the beginning of his intimate relationship with pencils and his calling as an artisanal pencil sharpener.

Ree’s book, How to Sharpen Pencils, is a detailed examination of how to sharpen pencils the old fashioned way, the way that makes sense in this crazy world.  We’re thrilled to have David Rees on 12 Questions and hope that he might sharpen a pencil or two for us!

1. What is your hometown?

Chapel Hill, NC

2. With what fictional character do you most identify?

Any ghost who haunts himself.

3. In the movie of your life, cast an actor to play you.

Zachary Quinto

4. What work of art speaks to your soul?

“Pied Beauty” by Gerard Manley Hopkins

5. What books are you currently reading or recommending?

I re-read some Tintin books recently. The pacing is incredible.

6. What song or album is currently in heavy rotation on your iPod?

Dopesmoker by Sleep.

7. What’s the last movie that made you cry?

I can’t remember a recent movie that made me cry, but Pather Panchali always destroys me.

8.  Cat person or dog person?

I don’t think people and animals should live under the same roof.

9. What is more important, truth or kindness?

False dichotomy. I refuse to choose.

10. How do you define sin?

Doing things you know you shouldn’t do.

11. How do you define virtue?

Doing good things you don’t want to do.

12. Design your headstone: What does it say? What does it look like?

I don’t want a headstone. I want to be buried in the group plot of my parents’ church in Chapel Hill.

Bonus Question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?

Donald Trump


Artisanal Pencil Sharpening


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