Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
(on a postcard)

J.A. Tyler Is Making Some Great Chapbooks at Mud Luscious Press

J.A. Tyler is making some great chapbooks at Mud Luscious Press. The first six are sold out (officially; there are still ways to get them); I especially loved the Blake Butler and the Brandi Wells and the Shane Jones. You can buy them individually or get a 6-month subscription--here's who you would get:

MISERABLE FISH by colin bassett
DON'T GIVE UP & DIE by james chapman
A HEAVEN GONE by jac jemc
LIKE IT WAS HER PLACE by kim chinquee
& THE UNIVERSE OF THE BODY by norman lock
WHAT I SAW by randall brown
THEY by brian evenson
BLUEBEARD by michael stewart
(forthcoming) by peter markus
THOSE BONES by david ohle
MOLTING by aaron burch
ALTRUISM by matthew savoca
(forthcoming) by johannes göransson

#119 The Comfort and Joy of Andrea Trindade Belo

Andrea Trindade Belo grew up on a campsite in Portugal where people from all over the world spent their vacations—which was great because there were always happy people around. When she was 17, she fell in love with a German boy. Andrea saw him summer after summer, but was so shy that she couldn’t say much to him. For university, Andrea moved to Lisbon, where she decided on philosophy, instead of literature, because she’s especially fond of aesthetics and symbology. When she was 23, that was last time Andrea saw the German. 8 years have passed, and there have been a few relationships, but she is still in love with the German boy. Now Andrea works in a museum, an interactive science and technology centre. It is in a beautiful location, just the place for a life-changing experience! 6 months ago, Andrea joined a Facebook application, Six Degrees of Separation, and the German boy’s face was the first one that showed up. He remembered her and now they talk through Facebook. He is still Andrea’s dream boy, but she doesn’t have the nerve for more right. She will soon, though. She realizes that she needs to let her teenage crush know how she still feels all these years later, that she has to make that relationship real or move on with that part of her life. Andrea is a very peaceful person. She lives in Lagos, Portugal—in a beautiful flat near the beach-- with her 5 dogs—Zu, Misha, Chica, Scruffy, and Ollie. Her best friend is her downstairs neighbor, John. They share the dogs and meals, the garden and wholesome free time. She adores her niece, Lara, and also her dogs. Zu, Misha, Chica, Scruffy, and Ollie want all her attention and love and Andrea is happy to give it all to them, all the time. They always give her back more. She feels blessed for finding each one of them. They are her comfort and joy.
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A Wonderful Review of DEAR EVERYBODY that Appropriates the Epistolary Form

There is a wonderful review of DEAR EVERYBODY @ BOOKGEEKS that appropriates the epistolary form and ends like this: "Thank you, Jonathon, for taking the trouble to write to everyone before you left a world in which you never felt truly at home. Thank you, Michael, for this wonderful book."

Thank you, Simon Appleby.

P.S. BOOKGEEKS is giving away a free copy of DEAR EVERYBODY; see the link with the review.
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Be a Secret Santa with books.
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The Wonderful Guardian Profile of Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard) in the Glory of Its Four-Page Spread

Kate Salter wrote a very nice profile of Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard) in the Guardian's Weekend magazine. You can only see the text at the link, but I have scans of the pages now. And if those aren't big enough to read, then you can still read about Nate Jackson, Karen Lillis, Moose the Cat, and Blake Butler on the blog.

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German Review of DEAR EVERYBODY

The Junction, a German magazine for contemporary culture, gave DEAR EVERYBODY a really nice review--5/5 stars and they call it "beautifully heartbreaking" (though they say it in German, not English, so the actual words are actually different words). Regardless, it's nice, and I'm thankful, in any language. Danke, Kathleen Wächter.

#85 The Many Parts of Mike Marcellino

Mike Marcellino was born in Baltimore and, like Baltimore (in part), he is part English, part Scottish, part Irish, part French, part German--and he was raised Italian. When he was 3 years old, his parents split up—and he stayed in a hotel in Miami Beach with his mother. There is a family story that he fell off the hotel’s three-story balcony and landed on his head, but Mike doesn’t remember that. What he remembers is meeting Tony from Cleveland who was impressed with his Superman act (think bathing suit and pool towel for a cape). Tony was also impressed with Mike’s mother, later marrying her, becoming Mike’s step-dad, and moving the family to Cleveland. Mike also remembers his great uncle Buddy, a Hall of Fame jockey, which may explain Mike’s great affinity for riding his bike. Many years later, Mike joined the Army and became a combat correspondent in Vietnam. Mike continued as a journalist after he came home and brought good attention to difficult issues concerning the wellbeing of veterans. Mike is proud to have served and misses his veteran brothers, both the living and the dead. In the early 1980s, Mike jumped from journalism to politics. He worked as a political aide to former Cleveland Mayor Michael White and to former Congressman Louis Stoke, where he did more good work on human rights and veterans rights issues. The other thing to know about Mike is that he has always lived by the water. He met Joan Baez near the banks of the Cuyahoga River. And while there is no surf in Cleveland, one of his life’s greatest moments was surfing alone in a perfect thunderstorm in St. Augustine. Along the way, Mike had three great kids. He loves them dearly and loves how they each grew up into their own uniquely independent free spirits. Mike has always been out of the box too and he likes it that way. Now he’s a poet and the front man for the band Split Pea/ce—making music out of poems he wrote in a bunker during mortar and rocket attacks in Vietnam.

More Mike Marcellino
Listen to Split Pea/ce
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what Is the outside of the moose made of?

If you Google this -- what is the outside of the moose made of? -- this blog is the first hit.

#118 Nate Jackson Loves His Life So Far

Nate Jackson was born in Mishawaka, Indiana on January 17th, 1981 (less than 24 hours after his wife was born). School bored Nate and he was often sent to the principal's office. In 5th grade, he got caught hiding under his teacher’s desk, which resulted in him spending a week’s worth of recesses under the principal’s desk. Disliking school led to poor grades, which led school counselors to think him simple-minded, which led to 3 days of intense scrutiny and testing by a child psychologist, which led to the discovery that Nate could perform at an 11th-grade level. That was when he was in 7th grade, the same year Nate’s parents got divorced and he lashed out even more in school. He was always a kid who loved to blow things up. Nate skipped 8th grade and was sent to a yeshiva in Chicago. He would never live with his parents again, only seeing them for brief summer visits and school vacations. But Nate hated living in a dorm and 9th grade was a disaster. After a couple suspensions, he was asked to not return and went to live in Cleveland with his uncle. He attended a smaller yeshiva where he could get more personal attention, but, after a year, his uncle moved away. Nate lived his last two years of high school with the Falk family, where Mr. Falk taught him how to play guitar, which Nate learned, along with how to write songs. It became his art. After high school, Nate moved to Israel to study at a rabbinical college, but quit after 1 ½ years, and became a sniper for the Israeli army. Of course, given previous discipline problems, Nate hated the army. He stopped being religious based on his newly-heightened self-awareness. After he got out of the army, he denounced violence and became a peace protester in the West Bank and Gaza. After a year of that, Nate returned to the US to attend Indiana University. His last semester at IU, Nate met his future wife, Micah Ling, and, after a few months of her asking him for a ride on his motorcycle, he said yes. It's been love ever since. Last year, they moved to Nashville so Nate could play music, but they missed the easy Indiana life and moved back to Bloomington. As an adult, Nate has grown close to his parents again and he loves them dearly. He also loves his life so far. Nate still plays music every single day, usually after he wakes up—because his voice is raw and his fingers are calm. His time with Micah and their bashful dog Bourbon has sugarcoated his sour memories and rounded his rough edges. They've been together for 4 years and got married on October 5th in a park near their house. Nate loves Micah more than anything and he will live every adventure with her for the rest of his life.

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#117 Baby Charlotte @ 4 Months

Laura and Mike met at an improv class, one of the results of which was Baby Charlotte, who was born June 13, 2008, which was 3 weeks early. Also, she was face-up, which meant that she was delivered in a c-section, which meant that Charlotte was kind of perfect when she was born. Shortly after this, Charlotte’s father introduced himself and she immediately became calm. She already had that much confidence in her mother and her father. At first, Charlotte could only focus on objects that were within 6 inches of her face, but now she can see much farther than that. In fact, she prefers to face out when she is being held. She wants to see everything. Charlotte started smiling very early in her life, an early sign of her happy temperament. She doesn’t cry much and one of the few ways she shows discomfort is by pushing out her lower lip. Charlotte is good at drooling, blowing spit bubbles, and laughing. She has the brightest face and slatest blue eyes. Charlotte is currently obsessed with her hands. Her bedroom is filled with animals and books. She loves the Belly Button Book and Pat the Bunny, which is also a book. Over her crib, there is a mobile that has a monkey, a bird, and a frog. It will be years before she believes that only one of them actually flies. She loves to lie on her back, kicking and talking. She loves to sit up in her red chair and to stand up if you hold her up. She loves being swaddled. She loves it when her mother holds her in her arms and swings her around. She loves being tickled. She loves her orange friend, which is maybe a cat or maybe a rabbit. Nobody really knows. Charlotte likes to wear hats, but she often kicks the booties off her feet. She mostly wears hand-me-downs from their friends' children. Over the first 4 months of her life, Charlotte has had a wide range of nicknames—everything from Tater Tot (in utero) to Charlotte O-town to Charlotte Poo Poo, which later turned into Charlotte Popovich, to Char-Char Binx, which later became Binx. She doesn’t find any of this confusing. In fact, she is quite proficient at her own gibberish. Recently, she has been imitating a lot of facial expressions. Recently, there has been a lot of tummy time and Charlotte has been working on rolling over. Charlotte is loved so much that she can’t wait to grow old enough to start talking with words that her mother and her father understand so that she can tell them how much she can feel it.
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#116 Michelle McGrane Will Love and Be Loved

Michelle McGrane was born on August 23rd 1974 in Mutare, Zimbabwe. When she was 1, her family moved from Zimbabwe to Malawi, the warm heart of Africa, where Michelle spent an idyllic childhood—until 1989, when it was interrupted by a 6-month period in Tillsonburg, Ontario, Canada in 1982/83, during which she was 9 and fell in love with autumn leaves, Thanksgiving, Halloween, and snow. As a toddler, one afternoon Michelle was left alone to sleep but didn’t; instead, she painstakingly smeared everything in her bedroom—the walls, her bed, her teddy bear, herself—with Vaseline petroleum jelly from the giant pot on her changing table. She loved that slick, smooth feeling. When Michelle was 7, she wrote, illustrated, and covered with glitter her first book, a Christmas story. As a girl, Michelle idolized Princess Diana and thought she might become a princess or, maybe, a ballerina. Michelle would also take care of elephant hawk caterpillars, which have large false eyes and a single soft horn on their backs, until they would wander off into the garden to transform into moths. When she was 14, the family moved to Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, which was difficult—leaving childhood friends and family pets behind, going to a racially segregated high school, having to learn a new language, Afrikaans. In 1993/94, Michelle spent a year living and working in London where she survived on toast and never had enough sleep. Now, Michelle is a poet with two collections—Fireflies & Blazing Stars (2002) and Hybrid (2003). She reads so much that she can't imagine a world without books. Since the beginning of 2007, Michelle has lived in Johannesburg, and, for the rest of her life, she will read and write poetry. She will love and be loved. She will grow old gracefully. Michelle is doing everything in her life that she wants to do with her life.

More Michelle McGrane
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#114 Sammy the Dog

Anne wanted to surprise her son, Will, with a dog. Will didn’t have any brothers or sisters, and what boy wouldn't want a dog? At the breeder, there was only one puppy, and nobody wanted him because he was too big for a Bichon Frise, but Anne was so excited that she took him home. They named him Sampson, after the Bible story, but the reference became irrelevant. They always called him Sammy or Sam. On his first day at home, Sammy learned his name and would come when called, so they knew he was really smart. When Sammy was a puppy, he was like a live q-tip—a cottony-white fluff of dog. He loved to pounce on balloons, but would cry and run away when they burst. At first, they tried to put Sammy in the bathroom at night, but he would cry and cry, so Anne would sleep on the couch with Sammy on her chest and that made him happy. When Sammy was 3, they got Francine, another Bichon Frise puppy. Sammy realized that he was a dog and was pretty depressed for a few days. Luckily, Francine adored Sammy and accepted his status as the alpha dog. Before long, Sammy and Francine became friends. Sammy loved to swim, to go for boat rides on Keuka Lake, to run in the snow in Vermont, and to go for rides in the car. Sammy was originally meant to be Will's dog, but he eventually became Anne’s dog—in the way that dogs will choose whose dog they are. Sammy’s favorite song was "I've Been Working on the Railroad," and Anne would sing it to him, changing a few of the words to put his name in it: "Sammy's been working on the railroad." Sammy loved that so much he would roll over on his back and moan with pleasure. Sammy also had a great long-term memory. He loved it when Anne retold stories of good times he'd had: "Remember that time at Susan's house when you and Woody and Aspen all ran in the grass? Remember that time?" Sammy would roll around and moan. He remembered. He was a very verbal dog. Once, Sammy almost got killed when an airport luggage truck ran over him. At the emergency hospital, they were happy to find out that Sammy didn't have any broken bones, which was miraculous. Toward the end of his 106-year life, Sammy lost weight and his hair started to fall out. He became incontinent and had to wear diapers, which Anne called jammies to preserve his pride. Sammy still loved his walks and eating. He still had good quality of life. He could still jump up on the couch to sit with Anne, and, every night, Anne would say to Sammy: "If something ever hurts, you just tell Mommy, because Mommy will make it all better." Sammy would look at Anne and understand. One day, Sammy started vomiting and stopped eating. The vet did some tests and, suddenly, Sammy only had a few days to live. The vet came to the apartment and Sammy died in Anne’s arms, where he spent so much of his happy life.
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