Formulary Book Club: The Rabbit Hutch

George Markham, BSPhar ’94, has our August ’23 book recommendation

Story by Ryan McDaniel | Published September 5, 2023

George Markham, BSPhar '94, stands in front of a book shelf holding the book "The Rabbit Hutch"

Each month, the Formulary Book Club introduces a student, staff, faculty, or alumni of the UNC Eshelman School of Pharmacy and gets their recommendation for a great read.

This month we meet George Markham, a Class of 1994 alum and third-generation pharmacist. George’s Formulary Book Club recommendation is The Rabbit Hutch by Tess Gunty.

The novel follows a week of events in the fictional Midwest town of Vacca Vale, shifting narratives between first person, third person, obituaries, emails, and pictures as it follows protagonist Blandine and other denizens of the town and the affordable housing complex, the titular Rabbit Hutch. A lonely widower tries online dating, a young mother struggles to connect with her newborn, and Blandine and her three roommates, all foster children who have aged out of the system, search for meaning in a once-prosperous town Blandine calls “a void, not a city.”

“[The novel is] a somber contemporary look into a fictional Midwest rust belt town and how the locals, along with those with tangential ties, deal with both reality and fantasy,” says George.

George is no stranger to excellent reads. Each year he reads the award winners for literature in six categories: the Pulitzer (fiction), Edgar (mystery), Hugo (science fiction), Man Booker (English language), Newbery (children), and O. Henry (short stories). “I probably would not pick up many of these books otherwise,” he admits. “But I have found great pleasure in reading the highly imaginative stories written by authors from diverse backgrounds. Outside of reading, George is an avid collector of Warner Bros. cartoons items – collectables, toys, etc. He also enjoys traveling, playing piano, and rooting for the Tar Heels.

George is a third-generation pharmacist who has been around pharmacy all his life. His grandfather graduated from UNC in 1926 and went on to open his own pharmacy, Markham Drug Company, in Fayetteville. George’s father, who graduated from UNC in 1962 and went to work at Markham Drug Company, taking over the business in 1971 and selling it to another pharmacist later that decade.

“I grew up in the drug store, spending a lot of time early in life just hanging out,” George recalls. “It was one of those old school stores with a soda fountain/grill where a lot of locals came by regularly.”

George went to UNC for his undergraduate degree in Chemistry, graduating in 1990. After a year working in a lab at RTI, he decided to go back to UNC for his pharmacy degree. His final year in school, George was hired as an intern/technician at Walmart in Durham. To stay with the company, he moved back to his hometown of Fayetteville. “Originally, I only planned to be there for only a few years until something opened up in the Triangle or the coast, but for some reason I never left,” he reflects. “I’ve been at the same store for 30 years, which is a rarity for retail pharmacy. I’ve been fortunate to work with a lot of great people over the years, technicians, cashiers, pharmacists, and managers.”

George still enjoys retail pharmacy because of the connection it gives him with the patients he serves. “Many of my customers had their family’s prescriptions filled by both my grandfather and my father so it has been nice to have that connection after all the years,” he says. “Even though retail can be challenging at times, I thoroughly enjoy the daily interactions I have with my customers.”

Thank you, George, for an excellent book recommendation!