Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
(on a postcard)

It's a Book!

Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard) started five years ago at a performance arts festival. Between then and now, I wrote over 300 postcard life stories, condensing over 10,000 years of life. Now it's a book. You can get it directly from Mud Luscious or from Amazon. Unfortunately, I couldn't publish everybody's postcard life story in the book or it would have come in around 700 pages. So the book is a selection from the project. Here's the Table of Contents: #45 Adam Robinson, #46 Karen Lillis, #52 Josh Maday, #49 Red Delicious Apple, #66 Blake Butler, #67 G, #70 Elizabeth Ellen, #75 Moose the Cat, #76 Deborah Ling, #91 Kathryn Jachowski, #98 Chair, #100 Jonathon Bender, #101 Elizabeth Crane, #102 Shanti Perez, #103 Rachel Joy, #111 Aaron Goolsby, #114 Sammy the Dog, #117 Baby C, #118 Nate Jackson, #125 J, #129 Matt Bell, #130 El Duque the Cat, #131 Tao Lin, #133 Rahne Alexander, #137 Rhode Island Red, #141 Steve Katz, #149 Christopher Douglas Bowles, #158 Patrick King, #161 L, #166 Beowulf the Cat, #167 Ken Baumann, #170 T-Shirt, #176 Cyndy Taylor, #184 Stephanie Barber, #188 R, #195 Kaya Larsen, #197 A. Jarrell Hayes, #199 Luca Dipierro, #200 Grendel the Cat, #209 Julie Riso, #210 F, #221 Effie Gross, #228 Nick Kane, #240 Monte Riek, #242 N, #249 Umbrella Cover, #255 Andy Devine, #263 Edgar Allan Poe, #265 Abby the Horse, #267 Michael Kimball, #280 Brin-Jonathan Butler, #282 Robin Black, #288 Stephen Graham Jones, #290 Catherine Lacey, #302 John Quincy Adams, #304 Shannon Sullivan, #307 Soap.

#288 Stephen Graham Jones: He Lived and Died by Def Leppard

Stephen Graham Jones was born in Midland, Texas in 1972. As an infant, he got knocked out by a ceiling when a family friend threw him too high into the air and, before he was even one, he had more than 100 stitches in his face. Another time, the fire department had to be called to get his head unstuck from the highchair. It’s so easy to get hurt. When Stephen was 4, he got lost in Carlsbad Caverns and was found by this blond woman who said she could be his mom if he wanted. Before and after that, his childhood was dry and loud—with lots of pecans and lots of dogs and more stitches. The family was always moving—always different houses and different schools and different situations. In school, teachers were always after him for something—the way he wore his t-shirts, the way his boots smelled from feeding, the way he smiled, sometimes his long hair. When Stephen was maybe 12, his dad came through town and dropped off a Remington 870, Stephen’s first gun. For days, he stood out in a cotton field trying to figure out how to shoot it. Around this time, his 7th grade teacher died—the last teacher to believe in him—and there weren't any others after that. By that point, Stephen was ready to blow holes in the world. Once, he had to have his tongue sewn back into his mouth. Another time, Stephen ate 14 hamburgers in a single sitting, but now he can't remember the last time he ate one. He used to drink tall glasses of water before meals just to feel full. One year, he grew 13 inches. In high school, Stephen only wanted to play basketball, but he got kicked off a team that went on to be state champions. He didn't study anything or do any homework. He doesn’t remember taking any tests. One semester, he had 81 truancies. Once, he just sat on top of the school all day, but usually he played pool or worked on his truck or a friend's car. He raced his truck a lot. Sometimes, he went out shooting things. He lived and died by Def Leppard. Louis L’amour saved his life by giving him something to read and Hacky Sack saved his life by giving him something to focus on (and he still plays whenever he can). Eventually, Stephen received his diploma from an alternative school. Then he went to college even though he wasn’t supposed to. That’s where he met his wife, freshman year, at the edge of a parking lot, which changed his life. She was just who he’d been looking for and he still finds her every day. In 1991, Stephen ran a 5-minute mile while carrying a snake. For graduate school, he flipped a coin—philosophy or English. In 1994, in a jail cell, a guy named TJ saved his life. Stephen ended up with some brain damage to his visual cortex, but he’s all rewired now. Stephen started writing a month or two after that, when he could. In 1996, he saw Scream and that reminded him of everything that he'd loved growing up and it made him realize that it could be that way again. Horror movies are worlds that make sense, contained systems where bad acts are punished and good acts rewarded. Now, Stephen and his wife have a couple of kids. His wife doesn’t need to read his books because she sees right through them to him. He still has a lot of dogs and he has a lot of knives. Stephen has always trusted knives (but not guns) and he cuts himself a few times with each new knife so they can get to know each other. Stephen likes to wear boots, probably too much, and he likes to get lost. He likes his bikes, which he rides because basketball trashed his knees. Stephen wishes that he could meet his wife again for the first time and that he had every single moment of his kids' lives on a better Rolodex in his head.

[Note: More Stephen Graham Jones.]
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Publishers Weekly Long List

Publishers Weekly added their own list of underrated writers to the ongoing discussion of lists of writers. I was a little surprised to find my name on the list. It's nice to be noticed, but less so to be noticed for not being noticed. Still, it's nice that they made a long list (60 writers, though Cheryl Strayed is listed twice) and that there is some range to the list, including at least one person that I'm almost sure is dead. Still, there are so many names that are missing. Taking a quick look at my shelves, and the fact that PW included dead people, I would also include Joe Brainard, Elizabeth Crane, Stanley Crawford, Sheila Heti, B.S. Johnson, Stephen Graham Jones, Sarah Manguso, David Markson, Mary Miller -- and given that these lists are kind of arbitrary, I'm going to stop there with the letter M.

Juniper Summer Writing Institute

Next week, I'm going to be at the Juniper Summer Writing Institute at the University of Massachusetts. I'll be reading on Wednesday night with Matthew Zapruder and Lisa Olstein. Thursday morning, I'll be giving a craft talk, The One-Hour MFA. The readings are free and open to the public. Here's the rest of the reading schedule: June 20, James Tate & Joy Williams; June 21, Stephen Graham Jones & Heather Christle; June 22, Mark Doty & Noy Holland; June 24, Thomas Sayers Ellis & Leni Zumas; June 25, Charles D’Ambrosio & Dara Wier; June 26, Paul Lisicky & Alex Phillips.
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