Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
(on a postcard)

One Reading, One Talk

On March 4th at 7pm, I'm reading at Atomic Books with Zachary German.

On March 6th from 11:30-12:45, I'm giving a talk--The 1-Hour MFA--at a free writing conference at CCBC-Catonsville (in the Barn Theater).

People Rise Up Out of the Sentences

I have an interview with Sam Lipsyte up at The Faster Times. We talk about his new book, The Ask, narrators, characters' jobs, and our wives reading our work.

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, Christopher Higgs.

#255: The Alphabetical Andy Devine

Andy Devine was born in Flagstaff, Arizona and it is probably significant that his first name begins with the letter A. From an early age, Andy loved to play with his wooden letter blocks and as he got older he would alphabetize them into walls of letters. In kindergarten, he was mesmerized by the alphabet that hung over the chalkboard—both the uppercase and the lowercase. Andy did not talk much, though, so it was a while before his parents realized that he had a speech impediment, a kind of stutter (which some have sited this as a possible explanation for his conceptual fictions). When he was 8, there was a terrible incident concerning the family’s baby being killed, though it is unclear how and who killed the baby. It is known, however, that Devine was sent to live with his maternal grandparents in Toms River, New Jersey after this and worked in the family grocery store growing up there. He spent a lot of the daytime in the backyard where he taught himself to sit so still that birds would land on him and squirrels would crawl over him. In middle school, Andy started reading a lot of books, his favorites being dictionaries, encyclopedias, and thesauruses—anything that arranged the material alphabetically. In high school, Andy was a small forward on the basketball team and a middle-distance runner on the track team. He began to notice girls and fell in love with girl after girl whose names started with the letter A—Abby, Alice, Amy, Angie, Ann, Anna, Audrey (in that order). The first girl he ever kissed was named Birdy. In college, Andy played in a punk band called Babylonia that only played covers of songs that were written in languages they didn’t understand. And Andy studied library science and, after graduating, worked for a time at the main branch of the New York Public Library, but he eventually became disenchanted with the Dewey decimal system as an organizational system. While living in NYC, Andy developed a hatred for actors and a taste for a thoughtfully constructed indexes. In his late 20s, his girlfriend Zooey broke up with him and she was the last woman that he ever loved. Andy tried to read novels to console himself, but he felt as if novelists were choosing the wrong words. In response, Andy started creating lists of words that should and shouldn’t be used in fiction, works that became implicit critiques of contemporary writing and publishing. In spring 2010, Publishing Genius will bring out his first book, WORDS. Other acknowledgments of his remarkable work are the fact that Andy Devine Avenue (in Flagstaff, Arizona) is named after him and his mention in a Frank Zappa song (“Andy”). Someday, there will probably be a bridge or maybe a mountain that is named after him.

[Read Andy Devine’s chapbook, As Day Same That the the Was Year. Pre-order Words by Andy Devine.]

Gigantic #2: America

I just received my contributor's copies of Gigantic #2 and it's an amazing looking book-object. Plus, there's stuff from Lydia Millet, Adrian Tomine, Sam Lipsyte, Robert Coover, Leni Zumas, Thomas Doyle, Thomas Allen, Meg Pokrass, Luke Goebel, Brian Allen Carr, Harriet Calver, Ben Siegel, Brian Beatty, Sibyl O'Malley, Able Brown, Ravi Mangla, Stuart Downs, Dylan Godwin, Marc T. Wise, Blake Butler, Claudette Bakhtiar, Dylan Nice, Ben Stroud, Reese Kwon, Luca Dipierro, I. Fontana, Sasha Fletcher, Max Fenton, Andre da Loba, Jordan Bruner. Plus, there is a section of collectible biographies of famous Americans as written by Deb Olin Unferth, Clancy Martin, Stephen O’Connor, Margo Jefferson, Ken Sparling, Joe Wenderoth, and mine is called "Edgar Allan Poe, as Told in the First-Person and Today's Language, Even Though I'm Dead."


I interview Ingrid Burrington at Hobart about protest signs, Venn diagrams, and other word-things.

DEAR EVERYBODY, in Paperback

DEAR EVERYBODY gets its paperback release next week. The official pub is March 1, but I'm already hearing reports of it being displayed on tables at McNally Jackson and other bookstores, and its already available at Powell's and Amazon and all that. Everything is the same, even the cover, except it's $5 cheaper and it has that great pull-quote from The Believer review about the book being a "curatorial masterpiece" for which I will forever be thankful.

To celebrate, a little, I have two events coming up. On March 4th at 7pm, I'm reading at Atomic Books with Zachary German. On March 6th from 11:30-12:45, I'm giving a talk, The 1-Hour MFA, at a free writing conference at CCBC-Catonsville, in the Barn Theater.

#60 Kim Chinquee: Fully Formed

Kim Chinquee was three weeks late being born and she was a big baby when she finally arrived. She started reading before anybody else in her class and was the salutatorian of her middle school, but her parents divorced when she was 14 and Kim stopped studying in high school. She preferred sports, boys, and parties. When she graduated, she didn't go to college. She couldn't afford it and nobody had told her about financial aid. She was going to join the Navy, but the recruiter wasn't there, so she joined the Air Force instead. She didn’t want to fly planes, but she didn't really want to be a medical lab technician either--it was her 10th choice. She married another lab tech and they had a son a little over one year later. Technically, they were married for 7 years, but they were separated for the last 4 years of their marriage because her husband wouldn't sign the divorce papers. He couldn't believe that she actually wanted to leave him. The divorce finally became official and Kim left the Air Force too. She joined the Reserves, but the next few years were a difficult time. She was a single mother working multiple jobs, taking classes toward her college degree, and paying for food with food stamps. She took her first creative writing class because it filled a general education requirement and has been a writer ever since--though she never admitted that fact until she won the Henfield Prize and the 5K dollar award that goes with it. Now she is a creative writing professor at Buffalo State College and has published a great book of tiny stories called OH BABY. She may have started her writing life a little late, but she has arrived fully formed.

[Update: Kim Chinquee's beautiful second book, PRETTY, is now available. Kim Chinquee also recently became the fiction and creative nonfiction editor at elimae.]

[Also: Kim Chinquee's blog. And: Kim Chinquee's OH BABY.]
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Kevin Sampsell Week @ HTMLGIANT

I interviewed Kevin Sampsell for Kevin Sampsell Week at HTMLGIANT.

60 WRITERS @ LA Times' Jacket Copy

There's a nice write-up of 60 WRITERS/60 PLACES at the Los Angeles Times' Jacket Copy. Caroyln Kellogg says, among other things, that "the idea is so beautiful." If you're not in a city where we are planning an upcoming screening (Atlanta, Los Angeles, Austin, and Saginaw are in the works) and you want to see it, there are now copies available here.

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.

#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.

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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