Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
(on a postcard)

#128 Michael Kimball Feels Like He Can Do Anything

Michael Kimball was born two weeks late, during the Great Midwest Blizzard of 1967. His father was huge, weighing as much as 450 pounds, and could be very scary—he had fast hands and nobody ever knew when he would go into a rage. But Michael’s mother was incredibly giving, often doing without so that her three children could have clothes for school, shoes for the basketball team. The family didn't have much money, but Michael didn’t realize this until later. For a long time, he was the shortest, skinniest kid in class or on the basketball team. Sometimes he still feels this way, even though he’s 6'2'', 200 pounds. He hit .853 one year in little league, and holds the Meryl S. Colt Elementary School record for the 600-yard dash. But he gave up all other sports for running—was all-state cross-country in high school—until he had a stress fracture in his left foot and never competed again. After that, he didn't have anything he felt great at anymore. He floundered through his early years at Michigan State, changing majors, flunking classes. Then he started reading a lot and became serious about writing. He can't believe he grew up identifying as an athlete and that now he’s a novelist. Some people think he channels voices in his novels, which is unsettling because of his family history concerning spiritualism. His great-great-great uncle was a noted medium in the early 20th century, conducting popular readings and séances. A dead Irishman was his connection to the other side. Michael learned from his grandfather little ways to supposedly communicate with the other side—knocks, slips of paper one carries until an answer is received, that kind of thing. After college, Michael moved to Chicago and then New York to attend graduate school. It wasn't until he arrived in NYC that he felt he belonged somewhere. If he had stayed in the Midwest, he probably wouldn't have become a writer. He’d probably be a high school teacher and unhappy. Dropping out of NYU was just as important, because he’d realized he wanted to write fiction, not anything academic. The other great thing about NYU is that Michael met his wife there, Tita Chico, who is smart and beautiful and kind and supportive in all the right ways. They’ve been together over 15 years, and have four cats and no children, and they like it that way. Michael had a huge struggle with his second novel, How Much of Us There Was, and almost gave up writing. The same thing happened with his third novel, Dear Everybody, but he somehow reached a point where he stopped caring what anybody else thought about his writing and that released him to finish Dear Everybody and to write Friday, Saturday, Sunday, which he recently finished. He never would have started Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard) without that feeling. Even though he loves Baltimore, he sometimes misses NYC. But he’s glad he left. He likes who he is now better than who he was then. He feels like he can do anything.

[Note #1: This postcard life story was written by Sam Ligon after he interviewed me as I have interviewed so many others for this project. Thanks, Sam.]

[Note #2: This postcard life story is part of a series of postcard life stories that will appear in Keyhole #6 (guest edited by William Walsh), where all the contributor bios will be postcard life stories--the idea being to make every possible aspect of the magazine literature.]
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The Deep and Reflective Michael Kimball

[Note: I have been thinking that I need to write my own life story (on a postcard), but then Heather Fowler did it for me.]

Michael Kimball was born in 1967 in the days after the Great Midwest Blizzard and Ingham County snowplows had to pave the way to his parents' house to clear enough roads for his mother to get to the hospital. He loved his childhood babysitter and wanted to marry her. He wanted to marry his wife-- and did. He has the sort of movie taste people either treasure or hate, but he’s reluctant to share this. He spends his time writing people’s lives on postcards in his small, neat script, or writing novels that also pull heartstrings, or smashing things. The postcards are written so he can delve into the majesty and pain of the greater population, one person at a time. When he is not writing postcards, his longer work is about sad people, happy people, erotic people, and everyday people—because he does not pretend to be above them, though he often hides the full scope of his intelligence behind an easy or charming demeanor. He is charming because he is kind, and, because he is kind, his postcard portraits empower the dreams and dilemmas of his subjects. Because he is talented, each small note reads like a person’s story told to him or her by the innermost part of his or her subconscious. Michael’s words are tricky that way, transformative. Michael is deep as Lake Michigan, which is, on average, nearly 300 feet deep, thereby equating depth at nearly 50 times his physical height. He believes in destiny and childhood memory. He is a brimming fire burning behind veiled lids and a charming, soft spoken man who runs through cold and hot mornings, contemplating, with passion and compassion, those who live and breathe.
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