Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
(on a postcard)

60 Writers/60 Places w/ I Will Smash You @ Creative Alliance


The good Aaron Henkin (aka The Voice) and I talk about both I WILL SMASH YOU and 60 WRITERS/60 PLACES in the last segment of WYPR's THE SIGNAL. The screenings are Friday, 7pm @ Creative Alliance.

[Click on the flyer to make it full-size.]
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#99 Jessica Anya Blau and The Summer of Naked Swim Parties

At 4, Jessica Anya Blau thought that kids were strange and had no friends her own age; she didn’t want to play Butts and Vaginas with them. Her best friend was a 70-year-old widow who let Jessica play with her sock monkey. At 5, Jessica fell in love with the 5-year-old boy who lived across the street after he told her that he was 25 years old. At 7, Jessica’s father’s job moved the family from Ann Arbor to Santa Barbara and they lived in a lemon orchard. This turned Jessica into a sunny California girl and she made lots of friends. As got older, she wore a bathing suit everywhere she went and had a deep tan that made her look like one giant freckle. Jessica studied French at Berkeley and gained a lot of weight without realizing it (she thought that the Laundromat was shrinking her clothes). She met her good-looking first husband at the college pub and they lived in a mansion that he was housesitting. They got married in a park in Berkeley and Jessica bought clothes for a department store. They moved to Toronto and Jessica couldn’t work in Canada (though she did some, illegally), so she started writing. She sent one story out to one place and it was accepted. Jessica kept writing. They got a dog, but Jessica had always wanted to be a mother. Jessica felt her body change and knew that she was pregnant. Her body kept changing until she felt huge, uncomfortable, ridiculous—and then her first daughter was born. There were marriage problems and Jessica applied to graduate school. She was accepted into the writing program at Johns Hopkins University and moved to Baltimore. Her first husband stayed in Toronto and that was how their marriage ended. Jessica loved Hopkins and writing and felt liberated. She met her second husband, the unbelievably wonderful David Grossbach, at Sam’s Bagels. He looked her up in the phone book after he got home and then they got married and then Jessica’s second daughter was born. After that, Jessica wrote and then published The Summer of Naked Swim Parties and felt, after all those years of writing, that she had finally made it. And she had. And everybody was happy that she had.

[Update: Jessica Anya Blau's wonderful second novel, Drinking Closer to Home, will be published February 2011 by Harper Perennial.]

Jessica Anya Blau and The Summer of Naked Swim Parties.
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Double Feature @ Creative Alliance

The two films that I made with Luca Dipierro -- I WILL SMASH YOU and 60 WRITERS/60 PLACES -- they are going to be a double feature at the Creative Alliance on February 5th, doors at 6, screening at 7pm. There's more information, plus stills and trailers, at Little Burn Films.

[Click on the flyer to make it full-size.]

The good Aaron Henkin (aka The Voice) and I talk about both I WILL SMASH YOU and 60 WRITERS/60 PLACES in the last segment of WYPR's THE SIGNAL.
Comments

Guest Lecture Series @ HTMLGIANT

I'm doing a talk-thing at a free writing conference and the talk is going to be called something like “The One-Hour Crash Course in Fiction Writing.” I’m going to try to cover ways to think about beginnings, language, syntax, details, voice, character, plot, story, revising, endings, etc. I had the idea because it has always been little bits of advice, something that I could hold in my head -- whether from a teacher, from something I read, or from another writer -- that were the most useful thing to me as I tried to figure out what I wanted to do as a writer. So this post on openings @ HTMLGIANT will be the first in a series of guest posts about some of the elements of fiction. Feel free to join in.
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Literary Death Match


The Literary Death Match is coming to Baltimore, January 30, at The Windup Space. I'm judging along with the wonderful Jessica Henkin and Rafael Alvarez. And there will be writers representing CityLit, Publishing Genius, JMWW, and Barrelhouse.
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I Kept Writing Them: Interview of Padgett Powell

I have an interview with Padgett Powell up at The Faster Times. We talk about his new book, The Interrogative Mood, question marks, fan mail, who the narrator is, and the adjectival nature of questions.

More interviews @ The Faster Times: Gary Lutz, Blake Butler, Rachel Sherman, Laura van den Berg, Ben Tanzer, Brian Evenson, Robert Lopez, Samuel Ligon, Dylan Landis, Joseph Young, Andrew Porter.
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Giancarlo DiTrapano Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard): #244 D.S. White

David Shane White goes by David if you're speaking with him but in written forums he prefers D.S. White. D.S. was born on July 6, 1970 in Houston, Texas. He moved to Hermosa Beach, CA, with his father when he was 12, dropped out of high school during his junior year. He went to work for a bookstore instead. He played baseball feverishly until age 16 and then pitted himself in the spectator's chair, where he has remained. Baseball is where his heart lies. At one point, D.S. spent more than six years homeless on the streets of downtown L.A., strung out on heroin and cocaine. He lived in the abandoned Ambassador Hotel for 6 months staring at the ghosts of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. He was eventually found and thrown out during a S.W.A.T. team exercise. Unknown to him at the time, the police occasionally used the facility for training. After being awakened one morning by three fully armored and aggressive officers holding sub-machine guns, they all agreed that it was time for him to leave. D.S. is unique in his ability to enjoy the company of most people. From artists to the mild, rich to homeless, he tends to think people are interesting. He met his wife of three years, Joanna, at the Seattle public library. He was using a video camera at the time so has the first time he ever saw her recorded. They are like-minded in their tastes for the arts. Gary Lutz, George Saunders, Pynchon in the books. Animal Collective, Can, and Nick Cave, musically. In film, they both enjoy Kurosawa, Von Trier, and P.T. Anderson. D.S. and Joanna generally view the world with the same lens. Resurrecting the relationship with his family is the greatest of D.S.'s accomplishments. He allowed it to disintegrate through criminal activity, lies, and drug abuse and spent years regaining some of the trust people once had for him. He doesn't know if he'll ever regain it all but will take whatever he can get. D.S. currently manages an autograph memorabilia business. Some of his favorite items include: a Dalai Lama signed baseball and a wooden spoon signed by John and Yoko. For now, it's the same old thing. Searching for a calm, quiet spot in a warm corner of the universe to share with his loved ones and his cats, a few treasured books and records, and an unlimited supply of ink and paper to draw and write his story on.
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Double Feature @ Creative Alliance

The two films that I made with Luca Dipierro -- I WILL SMASH YOU and 60 WRITERS/60 PLACES -- they are going to be a double feature at the Creative Alliance on February 5th, doors at 6, screening at 7pm. There's more information, plus stills and trailers, at Little Burn Films.

[Click on the flyer to make it full-size.]
Comments

#45 The Awesome Adam Robinson: New and Improved

Adam Robinson has lived in a bunch of different cities, but that probably doesn’t matter. His childhood was not notable except for the fact that he often ate lunch in a bathroom stall during his junior year of high school and except for all of the God stuff that he grew up with. He went to a Christian college, but only because his brother, his almost Irish twin, did. The Christian college was awesome for Adam (though it must be noted that this word often accompanies descriptions of religious experiences) and it was there that he learned that life is really terrible unless everybody forgives each other. Adam continues to be a Christian in spite of the fact that Martin Luther consummated his marriage to Katherine von Bora in front of his friends (or, possibly, because of this fact; it isn’t clear). Said another way, Adam is a dark and sad Christian like St. Paul. Also, once, Adam hid out all night in a porta potty at an amusement park so that he could see some bands that he really wanted to see the next day. The next day, a family he kind of knew gave him a washcloth so he could take a shower. Now Adam works as a technology buyer for an asset management company, but that doesn’t really describe him. It isn’t who he is. He is a guitar player for Sweatpants and the publisher of Publishing Genius and a writer of poems and stories and songs, but he cannot be fully understood in these terms either. It is better to think of Adam in terms of the time he jumped out of a speeding boat (that he was driving) and crashed it. The boat didn’t sink and Adam didn’t drown. The boat got stuck in some seaweed and Adam swam back to shore. Adam made a similar jump the time that he left behind his life in Milwaukee and ran away to Baltimore with Stephanie Barber, who is awesome (like Christianity, but in a different way). The experience was panicked and great. Another time, Adam was attacked while waiting for the bus and hit over the head with a bottle, but the attackers escaped with nothing of Adam's and Adam ended up with a bloody story to tell. One thing that should be learned from this: You cannot stop Adam Robinson. Also, it should be noted that the farthest Adam has walked at one time is 28 miles and
the farthest he has ridden a bicycle is 34 miles. He could go farther, though. He will go farther. In fact, there he goes now.

[Update: Adam Robinson's first book, Adam Robison and Other Poems is now available for pre-order from Narrow House. Plus, he is the genius behind Publishing Genius--short, massive books since 2006.]
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Literary Death Match


The Literary Death Match is coming to Baltimore, January 30, at The Windup Space. I'm judging along with the wonderful Jessica Henkin and Rafael Alvarez. And there will be writers representing CityLit, Publishing Genius, JMWW, and Barrelhouse.
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Samuel Ligon Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard): #241 Shawn Vestal

Shawn Vestal was born in Gooding, Idaho in 1966, the oldest of six kids in a Mormon family. He liked reading and writing and sports, assuming he’d become a great athlete, but that didn’t happen. When Shawn was in 5th grade, his dad went to prison for embezzlement. Shawn thought he had this happy, middle-class home, his dad a businessman and church leader, respected in the community, but just before his arrest he took the family on the lam up to Canada, fleeing the law, something Shawn remembers little about. It was a strange, sickening time, the running, the arrest, the publicity, the financial straits that followed. Today, when Shawn visits his siblings, they find themselves talking about it—as though none of them quite took it in and are now trying to remember. Shawn became hyper-self-conscious and too worried about the opinions of others. He wrote a column for the local weekly when he was in junior high and high school, trying to be Mike Royko. He wrote his first stories and poems then too. His father kept screwing up, going back to jail, becoming so different from the person Shawn thought he was, a shady guy to the core. Shawn still feels ashamed about it sometimes, which pisses him off, because it’s time to be over it. His mom was great, but he was angry at everything in his home life for a while, including the church, a kind of Jekyll and Hyde thing: He was nice and patient, except for outbursts of temper or emotion; his sense of humor became aggressive and mean-spirited. As a teenager, many of his friends were non-Mormons, and while he liked plenty of Mormons, they weren’t the people he wanted to emulate. He abandoned the Church and went to the University of Idaho, then dropped out and took what he thought would be a temporary job at the newspaper back home. He wanted to be a fiction writer and thought he was slumming, but he liked the work and took other newspaper jobs. He wrote fiction all along, though not with sustained effort, most of his energy directed toward journalism, especially as he became an editor at smaller papers, where you can work forever and not get everything done. He met his wife, Amy, when they were both reporters at the Coeur d’Alene Press. She’s strong and constant in hard times, and they’ve been together 17 years. One day in 2004, two Mormon missionaries came by the house, and Shawn asked if there wasn’t some way he could stop these visits. One of them offered excommunication. Shawn thought that was awesome, and was formally excommunicated, got a letter and everything. But the missionaries keep coming. “About As Fast As This Car Will Go,” Shawn’s first published story, came out in McSweeney’s in 2007. When he got the e-mail accepting it, he was at his job at The Spokesman-Review and did a little celebration dance. He must have tried 400 times to get stories in magazines, submitting fiction for almost 20 years. One week after that story appeared, Tin House took a story, and even better, Shawn and Amy’s son was born. Cole is amazing and has made Shawn more hopeful than ever before. After recently finishing a collection of stories, Shawn gave it a title suggesting lost faith, abandonment, and wilderness, and which, mainly, he just thinks sounds cool—Godforsaken Idaho. He’s had almost no contact with his dad in 23 years, but may talk to him again someday. If so, he doesn’t want to accuse or question him. He won’t be cruel.

Shawn Vestal’s fiction at Ecotone and Conjunctions.

[Note: You can read Samuel Ligon's postcard life story here and the one Sam wrote for me here. ]
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Psychotically Obsessed with Death

I have an interview with Samuel Ligon up at The Faster Times. We talk about his new book, Drift and Swerve, the development of a personal syntax and language, and violence in fiction.


More interviews @ The Faster Times: Gary Lutz, Blake Butler, Rachel Sherman, Laura van den Berg, Ben Tanzer, Brian Evenson, Robert Lopez, Joanna Howard, Dylan Landis, Joseph Young, Andrew Porter.
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