Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
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An Excerpt from Us in The Collagist

There's an excerpt from Us in #22 of The Collagist. There's also great work from J.A. Tyler, Sarah Norek, Mathias Svalina, Ofelia Hunt, Johannes Göransson, Russel Swensen, Emilia Phillips, Joseph A. W. Quintela, Kellam Ayres, and Brian Evenson -- and thoughtful reviews from Renée E. D'Aoust, Adam Parker Cogbill, Melanie Page, Gavin Pate, and Anna Clark. Many thanks to Matt Bell.

The Faster Times: Achingly Beautiful

The goodness that is Lincoln Michel has a super nice announcement about Us at The Faster Times. He calls the novel "tightly written, unflinchingly direct, and achingly beautiful." He says: "The prose is as clean as a surgical incision and Kimball dives directly into the dark waters of love and mortality that most writers only dip their toes into. This is a book you should be reading."

He also mentions the launch party, which will be tomorrow at 7:30pm at KGB, which will include me, Us, Sam Lipsyte, and the Tyrant.

Such a Painful Softness

There's a really thoughtful review of Us by the good Robert Kloss at Red Fez. The review opens like this: "Michael Kimball’s Us is, as much as we may not want to admit it, the story of all of us and what we daily attempt to ignore: that eventually our loved ones, our spouses and significant relations, will either die and leave us or we will die and leave them." Toward the end of the review, there's this phrase -- "such a painful softness" -- that seems to capture the feeling of the novel.

Elliot Feels His Feelings

This htmlgiant interview may be the most fun that I've ever had on the interviewee side of the interview. The wonderful Matthew Simmons and I talked back and forth about Us as he read it over the course of a few weeks. We talked about the different ways that hearts can break, E.T., blowback, and a bunch of other stuff. Among other things, Matthew says this of Us: ‎"... disarmingly simple, gorgeously structured, and as achingly sad a book as I have ever read. I had to stop a couple of times. I really did. The book’s elderly couple—so painfully aware of the fact that one of them is living the last parts of her life—are drawn so concisely, and the situation is so precisely rendered, it was hard not to spend all my time living in it even when I wasn’t reading the book."

5.10.11 Pub Day for Us

It's pub day for Us and I couldn't be happier that the novel now officially exists in America. The release party is this Saturday, the 14th, at KGB, which includes me, Us, Sam Lipsyte, an open bar, and the Tyrant. I hope to see you there, if you live near there.
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Two Nice Reviews of Us

The good Erica Spangler gives Us a great review at BookedinChico. My favorite line is where she says, "I even walked to and from school in order to keep reading the novel." She also says, "Us moves you, rattles you, and shakes your spirit as a human ... read this magnificent novel."

Plus, over at Chamber Four, Mike Beeman calls Us "an unflinching account." Then says, "Kimball takes many risks in Us and ... the risks pay off, leading to a conclusion that is as surprising as it is inevitable, and deeply satisfying."

Psychology Today: One True Thing

At Psychology Today, the wonderful Jennifer Haupt asks me some thoughtful questions and I do my best to answer them. Besides that, she says this about Us: "Be forewarned: when you pick up Us, Michael Kimball's haunting story of love and letting go, you will not be able to put it down."

Nice Review of Us at Corduroy Books

There's a really nice review of Us at Corduroy Books (along with a review of Andrew Krivak's The Sojourn). The good Weston Cutter says things like this: "Us is such strange magic ... Us brings up something strange and terrifying to consider: that the real beauty and magic of being alive—a long marraige made of compromise and attempting to do right by the person one’s sworn before god to do right by—may not even be able to be communicated by anything more fancy than the simplest, most basic statements (what, after all, is sadder to read than “My wife stopped breathing”? If you can actually connect with those words, can empathize with whatever speaker’s uttered them, can many statements be more devastating?). ... (but there’s plenty more reason to read it, not least is the searching, fumbling, totally humble way Kimball writes himself into the story of his grandparents and tries to understand what it is that’s in between people who’ve spent a lifetime beside each other). It’s a gorgeous book."

Us: Release Party

The release party for Us is going to be at KGB on May 14, 7:30pm. My friend Sam Lipsyte will read a little something and I will read a little something and then there's going to be an open bar, because that's how my publisher does it. Here's more information on the release party, as well as the rest of the book tour.

Pre-orders are now available at Tyrant Books and at Amazon.
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Anonymous Love Letters / Don't Give Up

The artist Cynthia Gray has been collecting anonymous love letters for ten years. It's a beautiful and heartbreaking project and this June I will edit the next collection. Please feel free to send one in. I'm also a distributor for Cynthia Gray's don't give up magnets. If you need one, please let me know.
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#282 Robin Black: Growing Up Unhappy and Becoming Happier in a Way that Makes Unhappy People Feel Like They Can Become Happier Too

Robin Black was born in New Haven, Connecticut, the youngest of three children. Her parents were legal scholars and she grew up in a great big house that was not a bit fancy. The house had lots of illness around it, which made growing up pretty odd. When Robin was 10, her grandmother who was a paraplegic from spinal tumors moved in with the family. Also, her father’s difficult moods dominated the household and his lack of balance kept everybody off-balance. Robin had ADD (still does) and other learning issues, which made her feel like a failure growing up. She was always the kid with unfinished homework and she missed lots of school because of illnesses, which had their basis in her fear of going to school. When Robin was 16, she asked her parents if she could go into therapy and that probably saved her life. She’s thankful for that instinct to get help when life felt so overwhelming. Robin’s memories of childhood are largely unhappy ones, but she always liked reading and writing, and she loved theater. She was in every school play and some community theater too. Playing a character was a great way to not deal with her own stuff. Robin studied voice too and can sing just about every song written between the two world wars. If she wasn’t going to be an actress, she was going to be a nightclub singer. But she didn’t pursue either, in part, because she was afraid of how sophisticated the other theater kids seemed when she got to college. That paralyzed her and she took German instead, which made no sense at all. During college, Robin took time off to return home and be her grandmother’s caregiver. After college, she became severely agoraphobic and couldn’t leave her house without having crippling anxiety attacks. During this time, Robin also had two difficult pregnancy losses, one late along, and those were shattering experiences. Robin met her wonderful husband Richard at a Public Service Fair when she was in law school, which she was doing so she could support herself and her kids. She was 30ish, had ended her first marriage, and was a mother of two children. Richard has been a full-fledged parent to her two older kids and to the daughter they have together. She’s amazed by how much he can give to other people. Around 40, Robin decided agoraphobia wouldn’t get in her way anymore. It took years of intensely difficult work, but she beat the disease. Most of the decisions Robin made the first 40 years of her life were motivated by fear. Robin’s kids are now 23, 19, 15 (girl, boy, girl) each amazing and amazingly kind. Her daughters are gamer girls and her son is a singer, which makes her super happy. Her youngest has significant learning disabilities and works so hard for things that come easily to most. The learning disabilities concern language processing, so Robin and her daughter are always trying to find the right words, though for very different reasons. Along with her family, Robin also loves her dog Watson, who is so loving back. It's important to have a relationship that doesn't involve words. For now, Robin wants to keep writing, to age well, and have friends who think she’s kind and funny, which she does. She wants to write a book about growing up unhappy and becoming happier that makes unhappy people feel like they can become happier. She also wants to sing more, but not in some corny, metaphorical way. She actually wants to sing more.
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Best Man

I have a new piece of fiction up at The Good Men Project, which is narrated by a man who isn't much of a good man. It was inspired by helping my friend from high school, Stew Rat, write his best man toast for another friend of ours from high school, but the content doesn't really have anything to do with that -- except the part about eating dirt. Many thanks to Matthew Salesses for liking the piece.
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