Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
(on a postcard)


I have a tiny fiction called "Tom's Mother Died Today in New Jersey" in the new Redivider, along with some great writing from Blake Butler, Robert Travieso, Dan Chaon, Kate Russell, Jeff Porter, Krista Benjamin, and a ton of others. Thanks to the good Matt Salesses and Cat Ennis Sears.

Pamela Witter Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard): #233 Russell Rowland

Through his parents’ rough times, financial problems, and his father’s alcoholism, Russell Rowland, born 1957 in Bozeman, MT, was a shy child. He was often insecure and angry, and without a clue as to how to get along in the world. That frustration was a constant source of confusion and fear. People scared the hell out of him. They moved a lot. At 10, he attended a one-room school, then joined 125 sixth graders in Billings, MT. He got a music scholarship and received a BA in Music Education, which was not his calling. For a time, Russell did lounge lizard gigs. He played and sang mostly Billy Joel/Elton John covers. Like his dad, Russell drank. He stopped in 1985. That changed his life. After that, Russell fell in love with books. He started with Vonnegut and Salinger. Reading led him to Western literature. Authors Ken Kesey, Wallace Stegner, and Raymond Carver inspired him to try his hand at writing. Russell married and had a son. Despite parental concern, Russell got an MA in Creative Writing. That was his calling. He got divorced, struggled financially, joined support groups and got therapy. Russell lost his grandmother. He thought about her life; during homestead days, people had little support, or even telephones. He realized those people turned out to be incredibly optimistic. Russell decided to write a novel about that. During an Atlantic Monthly internship, fiction editor C. Michael Curtis read the first chapters of Russell’s novel, In Open Spaces. Though he did not get it published, the fact that Curtis thought it was good enough kept Russell encouraged. Around 1999, Russell wrote fortune cookies for a few weeks. That led to appearances on two of his all-time favorite game shows: “To Tell the Truth” and “I’ve Got a Secret.” His first novel was finally published, reviewed in the New York Times, and made the San Francisco Chronicle's Bestseller list. He turned down an offer for the sequel, The Watershed Years. Though that decision haunted him, it too was eventually published. After nearly 20 years as a single man, he married. Two months later, he was devastated. His bride’s only child, a 19-year-old daughter, was killed in a motorcycle accident. Not long ago, Russell met the woman now in his life at a book club. They share a huge love of books and read widely. She’s a social worker, cares deeply about others, and continually pushes herself to be a better person. That makes Russell want to do the same thing. Russell had prostate cancer. Last year, he went in for a 2-hour surgery that took 10 hours. Through this and other experiences, Russell learned to notice how his behavior affects other people. He works on improving himself every day. While completing the first novel’s prequel, Arbuckle, Russell is working on a western writers’ anthology. He also teaches writing, consults fellow writers, and is co-editor of an online literary magazine called Stone's Throw. Since he began writing, Russell has never suffered from writers’ block. Russell wants to marry his girlfriend. He knows he’s very fortunate to have people in his life that he loves, and who support and love him. He expects to focus on that.

Stone’s Throw Magazine
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Zachary German on 60 WRITERS/60 PLACES

Zachary German has a nice, descriptive write-up of 60 WRITERS/60 PLACES at Moby Lives. It is, as they say, "good."

Shanti Perez Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard): #233 Michael Baker

Michael George Baker, the youngest of three brothers, was born to Michael and Zinda, in Spokane, in Washington, in July 1989, on a day when the high temperature was 89 °F, and had to undergo surgery as an infant because he could not swallow food. His mother didn’t really care what he did or didn’t do, so he kept pets, and he has always had the impulse to wander. His father, who is reputed to have been a good cook at the Davenport Hotel long ago, beat Michael’s mother when she was pregnant with him and has been in and out of prison all of Michael’s life, so he hasn’t spent much time with him. Michael knows his father is famous in Spokane for his association with methamphetamines. Since he and his father have the same name, Michael has to sometimes inform people that he’s not ‘that’ Michael Baker. Michael does strange things, such as in third grade when he ate a green caterpillar, which reminded him of jelly candy. He uses dermestid beetles to clean the flesh off of animals that have died natural deaths and then he reconstructs their skeletons. In school, he was fascinated with the Russian language and studied horticulture and livestock. His love of animals led him to a fascination with poultry genetics, which he thinks is the best decision he’s ever made—though he describes it as an addiction. Michael does not like to have regrets. When he was seven years old he was attacked and bitten by a dog, which left a scar, but he persevered—he now works in a pet store and it’s the most fun job he’s ever had. During his days off, he enjoys reading and thinking about poultry genetics. Right now, he doesn’t have a spouse or kids, and he doesn’t feel he needs them like most people do. Instead, his companions are a trio of Saxony ducks and saltwater fish, which he keeps in a tank in his bedroom. Michael has a rare condition known as triorchidism that some of his friends and family do not know about. He is most proud of the way he turned out, because left to his own devices most of the time, he could have gotten into drugs. The biggest plan he has, in keeping with his childhood impulse to wander, is to see the world and also save money and move to a state like Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee, or Kentucky, though he doesn’t know why he’s chosen these places. In his spare time, he plans to develop new color varieties of chickens, perhaps a landrace and a blue egg layer that yields high egg production. He doesn’t want to be a doctor, lawyer, or fireman. He enjoys the simple things in life.

Michael Baker on Facebook

[Note: You can read Shanti Perez's amazing life story here.]

Dear Michael Kimball

The good John Madera has an incredibly thoughtful review of DEAR EVERYBODY, disguised as a letter to Michael Kimball, up at the always wonderful Word Riot. The review asks many smart questions, among them: "How do I get rid of your voice in my head?"

Adam Robinson Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard): #219 Cubicle Wall

At about three o'clock Central time, the cubicle wall was born at average height. The cubicle wall was happy about this, but before long he was laid flat and wrapped in cardboard. He was stacked somewhere. (He didn't know where because he couldn't see on account of the box he was in and also because he didn't have eyes or a brain.) He stayed there for several long days. He started to cry through his fabric. Then, earless, he heard a truck and felt himself lifted onto it. There was a rumbling. In the truck he traveled until the truck stopped, whereupon the cubicle wall was unloaded. He was elated when the box was peeled away and he was fastened to some other beige cubicle walls in the form of a box. Together with a computer and some pens they became a community. A phone came along and joined the group. The computer was friendly, but the pens were often short. The phone had a whiney ring. One day, and then repeatedly every weekday for three years, a good looking young man came and sat in front of the beige cubicle wall. He touched the computer, the phone and the pens. He rarely touched the cubicle wall except, occasionally, to stick some sheet of paper to it with a pin. The puncture didn't hurt nearly as bad as the feeling of being ignored. The young man seemed not to care about the cubicle wall. It was even as if the cubicle wall represented something hateful to the young man, or if not hateful, at least unbearably mundane. But the cubicle wall was resolute. He would be there for the young man tomorrow, too, and the next day, and the day after that. Oh yes, the cubicle wall would remain a presence in that young man’s life for many long years.

[Note: Adam Robinson's postcard life story is here.]
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A Kind of Planned Awkwardness

I have an interview with Joseph Young up at The Faster Times. We talk about his new book, Easter Rabbit, by way of his microfiction, "Eleven"--of which I ask questions that address each of the 30 words in the piece.

More interviews @ The Faster Times:
I Am Not a Camera: Gary Lutz
A Ribbon of Language: Blake Butler
What People Do When No One is Watching: Rachel Sherman
Justify Every Sentence: Laura van den Berg
Most Violence Is Intimate: Ben Tanzer
I'm Not Trying to Trick the Reader: Brian Evenson
Where Commas Ordinarily Go: Robert Lopez
My Narrative Mind: Joanna Howard
Details Are My Weakness: Dylan Landis

Matt Bell's Best Of What I Learned About Writing from Interviews Written by Michael Kimball

I really like this: Matt Bell has posted the Best Of What I Learned About Writing from Interviews Written by Michael Kimball at Big Other, which is "arranged into a short collage essay on sound and language in fiction."
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60 Writers/60 Places, Some Thank Yous

That photo is Luca and me introducing 60 Writers/60 Places at the PPOW Gallery. Thank you to Nelly Reifler for setting up Pratt. Thank you to Jamie Sterns for setting up the PPOW Gallery. Thank you to the nice people who said nice things about the film.

"innovative ... striking ... poignant ... humorous"
--Chris Schonberger, Time Out New York

"brilliant premise"
--Lincoln Michel, The Faster Times

The films of Michael Kimball and Luca Dipierro have at the forefront a concern with the way space is altered and engaged with when people enter the picture. When people enter the picture and sometimes say and do startling things.
--Rozalia Jovanovic, The Rumpus

#35 Joseph Young: A Tiny Story

Joseph Young has traveled back and forth between Kalamazoo and San Francisco and San Francisco and Baltimore for most of his life. This wanderlust has always been a part of Joe’s life. He is most at home not being at home—that is, he is most at home being somewhere else. This sense of home has driven Joe to hitchhike across the country and to drive drive-away cars to anywhere. Once, he died on the railroad tracks in Mexico, though the significance of this event is obscure. Now he is alive again and becoming more comfortable with being at home, as well as becoming more comfortable with himself. While at home, he writes about art and writes what he describes as tiny stories that pop out of his head with no preconceived notion attached to them. He likes the sustained, intense concentration that the tiny stories require and the white space that contains the tiny stories. He likes the miles that he has traveled and the way that that distance surrounds his life.

[Update: Joseph Young's first book, Easter Rabbit, a book of microfictions, is now out with Publishing Genius. ]

Jessica Anya Blau Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard): #232 Andy Riverbed

Andy Riverbed describes himself as “a fish with a big wide mouth.” He hates shit-talkers and sticks to his word with all his heart. Andy was born in Newark, New Jersey where he attended a privileged private black school. It was the best school experience of his life and the fact that he’s not black never seemed to be a problem for anyone there. He played baseball and futbol in high school, and got along with his younger sister, Rebecca, whom he loves very much. Andy went to college in Puerto Rico, where his parents are from, and studied English lit because he loved to read books and loved to write. He dropped out of college twice, the first time because he went insane and the second time because he got strung out on drugs. He moved to Florida, went to school there, straightened out, and started studying linguistics because he was sick of literature. He’s still studying linguistics and he’s also translating fiction and poetry from English to Spanish. His pen name is Andy y la Rivera, which means Andy Riverbed. Andy also works in a bed-and-breakfast and sings in a punk rock band. The punk rock lifestyle wasn’t productive when it drove him to run away from home to go to shows, do drugs, and fuck up in school. Now that he’s pulled his life together, he loves singing punk rock and he loves hanging out with his bandmates. Andy was in love once. He bought his girlfriend a ferret named FatBoy McPopcorn after she had an abortion, but the relationship ended badly when she left with the ferret. Andy got McPopcorn back and loves him because he’s Irish and he makes out with Andy when he has beer on his breath. Andy is happiest with the right person’s warmth against his skin. He’s happy singing in his band, too. Andy is proud that he’s still alive and hasn’t given up. He’s applying to graduate school now, trying to get a real job, and trying not to bore himself to death.

Andy Riverbed’s website // St. Dad’s website

[Note: You can read Jessica Anya Blau's postcard life story here.]

DEAR EVERYBODY: 25 Important Books of the 00s

DEAR EVERYBODY was named one of the "25 Important Books of the 00s" at the wonderful HTMLGIANT.

Thank you, Blake Butler.

Thank you, HTMLGIANT.
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