Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
(on a postcard)

Smash Cuts and Non Sequitors

I have an interview with Christopher Higgs up at The Faster Times. We talk about his new book, The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney, issues of authorship, and why stories are boring.

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, Padgett Powell, Zachary German.
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#188 R

R was born on an Army base in New Jersey where his father was stationed. His early childhood seemed great. Everybody took care of him and his little sister. They were always laughing and roaming around the neighborhood. R didn’t know that his father was a drug addict or that the family was poor. Over the years, R has forgotten most of his life between ages 6 and 11. All he remembers is the fighting and trying to stop his father from hitting his mother even though R was never big enough to stop him. At 12, the family moved to Baltimore and R started getting into trouble. He was a white kid living in a neighborhood of mostly black kids. He tried to fit in by cracking jokes and playing sports, but everybody knew that he didn’t belong. R didn't like school, so he dropped out in 9th grade. He didn’t think he was ever going to be anything. R had no supervision, so he started hanging out with the drugs dealers in the park. They seemed so cool. This led to R smoking crack, becoming a crack addict, and, eventually, shooting a drug dealer, while trying to rob him of his stash. After that, R spent most of his 20s in prison for assault with a deadly weapon. In prison, R got his GED and learned how to use computers (he’s now an animator in Hollywood). R says that prison isn’t as bad as people think. After R got out, he met B in line at an all-you-can-eat buffet. Getting married and having kids best thing that ever happened to R. R likes having somebody to be responsible to, somebody to be responsible for. He doesn’t want to let B down. Also, to have somebody love you like a child does is amazing. It made R slow down. The kids are a reason to live. There is so much more to life.
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Giant Lecture #4: Story and Plot

Lecture #1 is about openings. Lecture #2 is about ways to keep the fiction moving forward. Lecture #3 is about some ways to get yourself to sit in the chair and write. Lecture #4 is about story and plot.
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DVDs Now Available

DVDs of the two documentaries I made with Luca Dipierro, 60 WRITERS/60 PLACES and I WILL SMASH YOU are now available here.

Time Out New York calls 60 WRITERS/60 PLACES "innovative ... striking ... poignant ... humorous." City Paper says that "60 Writers is a wonderful example of literary thinking becoming a visual language" and calls both films "disarmingly engaging."
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Double Feature @ Creative Alliance: February 21st

Bret McCabe says, "60 Writers is a wonderful example of literary thinking becoming a visual language." He calls both "Smash" and "60" "disarmingly engaging" and that both films "subtly acc[rue] an emotive force." Time Out New York calls 60 WRITERS/60 PLACES "innovative ... striking ... poignant ... humorous."

Plus, 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 double feature at the Creative Alliance is Sunday, February 21st (doors at 6:30, screening at 7:30). I hope to see you there.
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Elizabeth Ellen Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard): #250 Andrea Kneeland

Andrea Kneeland was born in Hayward, California in January of 1980, which means she just turned thirty. Andrea grew up without siblings and her childhood was difficult and isolating. She didn’t do things most other kids did, like go to slumber parties or high school or prom. When she was thirteen, her first real boyfriend held a loaded gun to her head. At the time, she didn’t think this was strange and didn’t break up with him. She thinks this says a lot about how she viewed relationships the first twenty-five years of her life. When she was fifteen, she enrolled in community college. When she was eighteen she met her first husband, whom she married two years later. She doesn’t like to talk about either her childhood or her first marriage publicly. Her second husband told her when he left that he’d kill himself if he had to stay married to her. He had been abusive for a while at this point, and her friends no longer liked to be around them. Andrea believed she was being patient, waiting for things to go back to how they were in the beginning. She would try to hug her husband and he would push her to the ground. She didn’t understand this was an unacceptable way to be treated. These sorts of relationships were all she knew, and thus what she preferred. It wasn’t until she got out into the world and saw how other people lived that she understood what it means to be treated with kindness and respect. She had to learn to value herself, which is something she still struggles with today. When she was in her mid-twenties, Andrea went back to school and got her bachelor’s degree in Anthropology. She had intended to study Creative Writing, but didn’t find the classes particularly interesting or useful. She preferred Anthropology, which was similar to Creative Writing in that in Creative Writing you take things that are not real and make them seem real and in Anthropology you take things that are real and make them seem not real. Since then, Andrea has published many stories online and in print, but the one she is most proud of and which she feels is most representative of her is “Pinocchio Discovers Jealousy,” as it touches on the themes she finds herself most obsessing over: birds, fairy tales, misogyny, technology, memory, sex, torn apart relationships, and anatomy. Mostly, Andrea just wants to write stories and poems that are beautiful but accessible, so that when people read them they say, “Oh, that’s beautiful because it’s so strange, but it’s even more beautiful because the strangeness is so familiar.” Andrea feels similarly about birds. She thinks there is very little difference between reading a poem and watching a bird in flight. Andrea currently lives in San Francisco and has lived in the San Francisco Bay Area her whole life. She can’t imagine living anywhere else. Five months ago, Andrea met a man through an online dating service and she loves him like crazy and thinks it’s one of the luckiest things that’s ever happened to her. Together they plan on making a trip to Spain later this year. It will be the first time Andrea has left the country. She is excited to see what Spanish birds look like and is happy her boyfriend speaks Spanish so she won’t have to learn another language.

[Andrea Kneeland is an editor at the great Hobart and here is her chapbook in the fine Fox Force 5.

[Note: You can read Elizabeth Ellen's postcard life story here.]
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Giant Lecture Series #3: The Rough Parts

Lecture #1 is about openings. Lecture #2 is about ways to keep the fiction moving forward. Lecture #3 is about some ways to get yourself to sit in the chair and write.
Comments

Double Feature @ Creative Alliance: February 21st

Bret McCabe says, "60 Writers is a wonderful example of literary thinking becoming a visual language." He calls both "Smash" and "60" "disarmingly engaging" and that both films "subtly acc[rue] an emotive force." Time Out New York calls 60 WRITERS/60 PLACES "innovative ... striking ... poignant ... humorous."

Plus, 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 double feature at the Creative Alliance is Sunday, February 21st (doors at 6:30, screening at 7:30). I hope to see you there.
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510 Readings

Season 3, Episode 2 of the 510 Readings is February 20th at the Minás Gallery. It's Kevin Sampsell, Jane Satterfield, Ron Tanner, and Meghan Kenny. There is information, author bios, etc. at the link.
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Kim Chinquee Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard): #248 Shya Scanlon

Shya Scanlon was born on July 29, 1975 in Augusta, Maine, and spent the first ten years of his life on a rural commune. This was the happiest time of his life: sheltered, idyllic, with nothing but fond memories. When he was ten, his family moved to Seattle, which was surreal and shocking, and he wasn’t prepared for the reality; he felt betrayed, and began to take it out on his brother Colin, these acts becoming his biggest regret. He was always very physical, until a mountain bike accident at 15, when he suffered a concussion and tests found a birth defect in his vertebrae. Surgery failed to correct the problem, and he wore a neck brace. He became more bookish, falling into an alternative crowd and writing, reading, doing drugs and smoking, petty crime: leading to a path of self-destruction. He felt above-the-law and kept spiraling. He dropped out of high school at the beginning of junior year, and when his parents were away on vacation, he broke into their car and drove to San Francisco, bought drugs, then drove to Rhode Island to sell them and make enough to fix the car, the excursion landing him in a juvenile detention center in Wisconsin. His parents’ response was a wake up call—Shya wasn’t in trouble, and he realized the impact he had on people he cared about, especially his brother, and he wanted to turn himself around. He eventually attended an alternative school, which provided him with the kind of opportunity he needed. He attended college in Indiana, but felt isolated and moved back to Seattle, where he studied German. He spent six months in Germany, but felt depressed and isolated, so eventually went back to Indiana and finished his degree at Earlham College. He picked up writing to be part of a girlfriend’s world, mostly poetry. At the end of college, he moved back to Seattle, stopped writing, then quit his job to write a book. He decided to move to New York, which meant for him a commitment to writing. He applied to Brown, lived in NY for a while, then met his girlfriend, Erin, who worked for Jane magazine. He was accepted to Brown, moved to Providence, and when Jane folded, Erin moved to Providence with him. He couldn’t deny the truth: her “amazing force of good,” her joy, and the vitality in everything she does. He lives with her now, and in NY again, where he writes and does freelance editing. He’s most proud of his decision to reorient his life path, and of his book Forecast, and hopes to someday make a living from his writing.

[Shya Scanlon’s website and his YouTube channel.]

[Note: You can read Kim Chinquee's postcard life story here.]
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Robert Thinks Bill Murray

I have an interview with Zachary German up at The Faster Times. We talk about his new book, Eat When You Feel Sad, autographs, the use of "about," and what the main character does, thinks, and says.

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, Padgett Powell.
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The PRISM Index

The PRISM index, Issue #1, is now available for pre-order. It's 80 pages/88 min DVD/72 min CD and has a huge list of contributors, including me: Belly Boat, Jeffrey Bowers, Jeffrey Brown, Jeff Brush, Castanets (Ray Raposa), Diane Cluck, William Fowler Collins, Josh Cotter, Jay Duplass, Jeremy Bradley Earl, Robert Earle, Theo Ellsworth, Steve Emmons, Fantastic Magic, Grant Falardeau, Chema Garcia, Golden Ghost (Laura Goetz), Lisa Hanawalt, Chadd Harbold, Trent Harris, David Heumann, Brent Hoff, Michael Hurley, Azazel Jacobs, Hermann Karlsson, Michael Kimball, Mike Kuchar, Michael Langan, Robbie Lee, Julia Marino, Daniel Martinico, Charlie McArthur, Colin McDonald, Gavin McInnes, Brian McMullen, Carson Mell, Mi and L’au, Adam “Meadows” Mitchell, Mr. Leg, Louis Munroe, Annelies Monsere, Ormo, Parker Paul, Bill Plympton, Bhob Rainey, Brett Eugene Ralph, Luke Ramsey, Dan Reeder, Jay Rosenblatt, Mick Rossi, Chris Schlarb, Chriss Sutherland, Justin Taylor, Thee More Shallows (Dee Kesler), Dustin Thompson, James Jackson Toth, Schon Wanner, Sarah Warda, Virgil Widrich, Women & Children (Kevin Lasting), David Zellner, Nathan Zellner.
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