Thursday, December 23, 2010

It Was a Good Year

Here is my year in words, by the numbers.

44 publications in magazines and anthologies.
20 interviews of other writers.
16 readings.
12 readings by my pseudonym, Andy Devine.
11 screenings of films.
10 interviews of me.
2 translations: Dear Everybody in Korean, How Much of Us There Was in Spanish.
1 documentary, 60 Writers/60 Places.
1 paperback, Dear Everybody.
1 book under a pseudonym, Andy Devine's Words.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Andy Devine Does Teleportal

After reading in two places at once on November 14th (Champaign and NYC), Andy Devine needed a little recovery time, but Being Andy Devine, the national book tour for WORDS, just passed through Austin, Texas for the Teleportal Readings, which was part of the Indie Lit Roadshow. Many thanks to the wonderful Jess Sauer for organizing, and, as always, to brilliant Andy Devine for being Andy Devine. Here is Andy's reading from Teleportal, which had to be recorded in a van outside the venue because of legal reasons.

Andy Devine Does Teleportal... from Monofonus Press on Vimeo.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

The National Indie Lit Roadshow

The Baltimore wing of the National Indie Lit Roadshow is an open house thingy that is sponsored by Monumental People and Publishing Genius and JMWW and probably some other book people. It's running at 24 East Mount Vernon Place between 11 and 8. There will be great book shopping, drinky drinks, cash money poker, and a couple reading samplers (at 2pm and 7pm). I'll be reading something brand new as part of the 2pm sampler and then running the poker game. Click on the flyer for bigger details.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Devine Remix



As I mentioned, below, Robert Kloss is doing a series of remixes at Necessary Fiction this month. Up today is the Andy Devine story, Plots, which is from WORDS, which Publishing Genius published earlier this year.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Being Andy Devine

After reading in two places at once on November 14th (Champaign and NYC), Andy Devine needed a little recovery time, but Being Andy Devine, the national book tour for WORDS, continues in Portland on December 9th at the Smalldoggies Reading Series--along with Tom De Beauchamp, Jackie Treiber, Michael Roberts, and musical guest Antique Summer. Thanks to Matty Byloos and Carrie Seitzinger for organizing and hosting.

#141 The Great Abundance of Steve Katz

Steve Katz was born in the Bronx in 1935 and grew up in Washington Heights. It was a classic NYC childhood—playing ball, chewing Double Bubble, and hanging out in the park. When he was 9, Steve says that he took his sled to the park across the street and noticed everybody looking up into the sky at a bright lozenge of light. He says that he became transfixed by it too and was transported up into that lozenge of light. He says that that 9-year-old boy is still up there in the light (quite content that he never grew old) and that the Steve Katz who is talking to me is the alias Steve Katz, who has written some books and screenplays. After that, Steve attended Cornell University where he met his wife who was beautiful, the rodeo queen of Winnemucca, and a great sculptor. In 1957, he worked for the forestry service as a lookout with his wife, the result of which was their first child. They lived in Italy in the late 50’s and early 60’s with their 3 sons until Steve felt like he was losing his language. (Language is an imperfect medium for representing whatever you think of as reality.) The family moved back to the US and Steve took a teaching job at Cornell. They were married 14 years and Steve’s girlfriend, after the separation helped with the divorce papers. Steve never liked going to school, but taught creative writing and literature at a number of universities until he retired from the University of Colorado in 2003. What else? One great thing he was happy he did was buy a place in Cape Breton in 1971, which was gorgeous and peaceful; he lived there in a tee-pee for many years until he built a cabin in 1988. Also, Steve says that your body gets ridiculous as you get older, but its self-destruction puts you closer to your spirit. Further, Steve was one of the founders of Fiction Collective. And the books? Steve has written and published continuously since the self-published novella, THE LESTRIAD in 1962—including THE EXAGGGERATIONS OF PETER PRINCE (3 g's intentional), SAW, WIER & POUCE, SWANNY’S WAYS, ANTONELLO’S LION, and KISSSSSS: A MISCELLANY. The critic, Jerome Klinkowitz, says he “…pushed innovation farther than any of his contemporaries.” Steve currently lives in Denver, Colorado, where he is working on his MEMOIRRHOIDS (pain in the ass memories), of which there will be 137 (which physicists call god’s number, the fine structure constant, as it appears in all transactions between matter and light), which includes an unresolved decimal.

[Update: Steve Katz just published Time's Wallet (Counterpath Press), a memoir written in 137 discrete pieces alled memoirrhoids.]

Friday, December 3, 2010

Necessary Fiction: Remix

Robert Kloss is doing a series of remixes at Necessary Fiction this month. Up today is my story -- "The Birds, the Light, Eating Breakfast, Getting Dressed, and How I Tried to Make It More of a Morning for My Wife" (which originally appeared in Open City #20 and is actually an except from HOW MUCH OF US THERE WAS, which Tyrant Books is bringing out in the spring) -- and then Robert's remix, which removes the context to create a different tone. I remix one of his later this month.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

#155 Jason Stumpf Loves It All

Jason Stumpf was born in Cookeville, Tennessee. When Jason was 6, his father died, which was as hard as one might think and it shaped, consciously and unconsciously, all of his relationships and his sense of who he is. Jason’s mother did a wonderful job raising his sister and him. She tried to make sure that whatever limitations she faced did not keep Jason from being himself and pursuing his interests. The family house was not a sad place. It was very ordinary, which was all due to his mother. At 10, he began studying music—classical guitar and renaissance lute. Music seemed like a kind of magic, a secret language with its own form of writing. For high school, Jason went to McCallie, a boarding school on a scholarship, an all-male school that offered Jason incredible academic opportunities. He’s really grateful for that. It was a very different social atmosphere than what Jason came from. Kids were socially and politically very conservative and they had a lot of money. Within this environment, Jason had to figure out who he was. Being at McCallie forced him to grow up some. Jason started writing in high school and was immediately taken by the idea of writing as a process. In college, he realized that he was better suited to writing than music (writing is a creative process; musical performance doesn’t offer the same opportunities for revision). After college, Jason worked a variety of jobs: graveyard-shift employee at a Russell Stover’s factory (2 days), library assistant in a music library (1 year), library assistant in a rare book and manuscript collection (a little more than 1 year), graduate student at an MFA program (2 years), and adjunct professor of English at Providence College (4 years). In 2001, while Jason was working in the rare books collection, the library put on an exhibition to celebrate the release of James Merrill’s collected poems. Graduate students wrote catalogue articles for the exhibition and Margaret Avery Funkhouser co-wrote a piece on some wallpaper that Merrill had designed. Very soon after, Jason and Margaret both realized that they might be in love. One day, Jason kissed Margaret and they have been together ever since. Margaret is an incredibly serious person, but also goofy, creative, caring, talented, quiet, and spirited. Jason loves that Margaret is so many things. Being around her, he has fun. He learns a lot. Now Jason teaches English at the Walnut Hill School, an arts high school outside of Boston that is almost nothing like the boarding school he attended growing up. He feels fortunate to be teaching there. He feels fortunate to be the father of his one-year-old son, Jonas (an anagram of Jason). Everything about being a father is really tough, but Jason loves it all, even how hard it is.

[Update: Jason Stumpf just published his first book, A Cloud of Witnesses, which "is a verse-novel that is not in verse and isn't a novel."]

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

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.

[Update: Shya Scanlon’s book of poems, In this alone impulse, is now available from Noemi Press and his first novel, Forecast, has officially launched. Plus, Shya is now co-editing Monkeybicycle and is the Fiction Reviews Editor at The Nervous Breakdown. Also, here's his YouTube channel.]

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

Friday, November 12, 2010

Smile Politely, Andy Devine

There's a nice conversation with and around Andy Devine and his national tour, Being Andy Devine, at Smile Politely. It includes his publisher, Adam Robinson, his editor (me), as well as writer Aaron Burch, the host of Stories & Beer, where Andy Devine will be reading on November 14th. At the same time on the same day, November 14th, Andy Devine will also be reading at the Soda Series in NYC, with Mairéad Byrne, Daniel Groves, Stephanie Barber, and Adam Robinson.

Plus, there's a really nice post by Tom DeBeauchamp about reading Andy Devine's novel, Apartment City, over at Htmlgiant.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Four Years of Genius


November marks the four year anniversary of Publishing Genius. To celebrate the head genius, Adam Robinson, has posted a selection from Andy Devine's "A Grammar for Fiction Writers" at Everyday Genius.

#129 Matt Bell Is One of the Coolest Things Ever

Matt Bell mostly grew up in a house outside of Hemlock, MI, where there was enough isolation to grow up odd, but not too odd. In 3rd grade, Matt won a certificate for writing the best pirate story set in outerspace, which is part of how he became the writer he is today. For the longest time, he wore Velcro shoes because he thought they were the coolest things ever and because that is what the astronauts did. That’s how he was 12 before he learned how to tie his shoes. That is, Matt was a nerdy kid. He read D&D rulebooks on the school bus, played lots of computer games, and read tons of science fiction and fantasy books. In 7th or 8th grade, Matt wrote a 200-page fantasy novel, but then he stopped writing in high school. After that, Matt went to Saginaw Valley State University and dropped out. After all, he had only been tying his shoes for 6 years and he didn’t know what he wanted to do yet. He went to Delta Community College, a 2-year school, where he had the distinction of placing 3 years in a row in a writing contest. Then Matt went to Oakland University, which was the closest university he could drive to, and received his English degree. Over this time, Matt worked as a bartender (he may have gotten the first internet-posted job anybody got) and then as a restaurant manager. These jobs were good for him personality-wise. He lost his shyness. He met characters and had experiences that he wouldn’t have met or had otherwise. Then Matt met Jessica on Valentine’s Day, which was a kind of sign. She was the roommate of two women he worked with at the restaurant, and, as soon as they started dating, Matt wanted to spend all his time with her. Instead, Matt went on a camping trip by himself. He drove across the country, which gave him a sense of scale and changed his perspective. After that, Matt and Jessica were engaged within a year, got married on the beach in Port Austin, and had one of the best weddings ever. It was amazing to stand up in front of all those family and friends, and for everybody to be so happy for them. Then everybody cried. By the time Matt finishes his MFA at Bowling Green State University (2010), he will have finished writing a short story collection and a novel. He will also have an even happier marriage and remember even less of what his life was like before he met Jessica.

[Update: Matt Bell completed his MFA last spring and now first full-length collection, How They Were Found, is now out from Keyhole. Besides all that, he is now the editor The Collagist and is finishing work on a novel.]

Friday, November 5, 2010

TRNSFR #3

My contributor copies of trnsfr #3 arrived the other day and it is an amazing-looking book-thing. Six of the postcard life stories are reproduced as postcard tear-outs. Plus, there's a broadside fold-out from Paul Maliszewski. Plus, there is great work for J.A. Tyler, Robert Hinderliter, Blake Butler, Janet Freeman, Ryan Bradley, Mark Gluth, Chelsea Martin, Matthew Simmons, Sutherland Douglass, James Greer, Paul Kavanagh, Thomas Michael McDade, Michael Stutz, Catherine Lacey, Molly Gaudry, and Scott Bradfield. Many thanks to Alban Fisher.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Electric Literature


There's a great piece on Andy Devine and WORDS and the national book tour for WORDS, Being Andy Devine (BAD), over at Electric Literature. Andy would like to thank Julia Jackson and Adam Robinson -- who talk about pseudonyms, Andentity, and Andy Kaufman.

#175 Michael Hemmingson: He Is Not That Person

Michael Hemmingson was born in Los Angeles and his childhood was like a bad young adult novel—teen parents, his father missing the first 5 years before returning to marry his mother. When Michael was 11, he wrote a Star Wars novel, 300 pages in pencil. At 14, he had his first poem published. As a freshman, he was editor of the high school literary magazine. When he was a sophomore, he discovered drugs—LSD, pot. By 17, Michael had published 200 poems, a dozen stories, and his own zine, Another Fucken Review. By 18, he had published three chapbooks of poetry and flash fiction. Michael has had many painful relationships end badly. When he was 23, his girlfriend Trudi died in a car accident. She was 10-weeks pregnant and Michael fell apart after that. He couldn't get out of bed, couldn’t work, and found himself homeless. He lived in his car or in shelters. He did not care what happened to him. The person he was died with her. Michael is not that person. When he was 27, Michael published his first book (The Naughty Yard, Permeable Press). It changed his life and people in the literary community took him more seriously. Another thing that changed Michael’s life was leaving Los Angeles and then again going back home to chase Hollywood, which he wishes he hadn’t done. He was in love with a woman, though, an actress. He wishes that he would have realized the heartache there would be in that. He has been lied to, cheated, and screwed over by producers in Hollywood. Still, one of the best things in Michael’s life was making a feature film (The Watermelon, LightSong Films) in Los Angeles, having that experience that few get. Michael has left L.A. many times and returned many times. One time, Michael was a journalist in Rwanda, but he wishes that he hadn’t taken that assignment. He is still haunted by the thousands of dead bodies and the smell in summer heat. One particular image that sticks in his mind is a hungry albino black child sitting alone in the dirt and crying, and no one paying attention. People should pay attention. Michael has accomplished so much—screenplays, movies, journalism, editing books, ghost-writing books, writing his own books (all kinds—literary, erotica, biographies, ethnographies, etc.). Through 2008, Michael had published 48 books under his name, plus a dozen more under various pen names. In the next few years, Michael will publish many more books— some under new pen names and some under his own name (particularly his first collection of literary fiction and academic books on Carver, Hemingway, and Vollmann). Michael also plans to finish his biography of Carver, write a big literary novel, make a studio-budget movie, and write for a TV series that will last no fewer than 3 seasons. Further, he will buy a house and move into it with his two cats, Worf and Poe (who are the reincarnated cats he had 12 years ago, Surfette and ArtBell) and the family he has always wanted to have.

[Update: Michael Hemmingson's new collection of stories, Pictures of Houses with Water Damage, is now available from Dzanc. His collection, The Other Eden, was published in May by Dybbuk and his book of poems, Ourselves or Nothing, was published by Olympia Press in March. Also, The Watermelon is now available at Turner Classic Movies.]

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Being Andy Devine

Being Andy Devine (BAD), the national book tour for Andy Devine's first book, WORDS, is underway. The next stop is Atlanta for the Solar Anus reading series. That's with Gabe Durham and Todd Dills and music. That's November 5th, 8pm, at the Beep Beep Gallery. Then it's Champaign for the Stories & Beer reading series on November 14th and NYC for the Soda Series on November 14th -- yes, Andy Devine will be in two places at once.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Being Andy Devine

























Being Andy Devine (BAD), the national book tour for Andy Devine's first book, WORDS, is underway. The next stop is Providence for couscous sur l'herbe on October 26. From 9-10, there is music with Jonathan Bonner Cape Breton Fiddle and Laila Aukee Ukelele plus Vocals Extraordinaire. From 10-11, it's Andy Devine with Mairead Byrne, Karen Donovan, Rachel Glasser, and Mike Young. From 11 on, Dave and Mark play the blues.

Mudluscious Stamp Story Anthology


The mudluscious 2011 titles are up for looking at their covers and subscribing and such. I have a little piece in [C.] the stamp story anthology, as does Andy Devine.

Literary Fundraising

There's a great post about literary fundraising (and other kinds of fundraising) and kickstarter by Rebekah Silverman over at htmlgiant. It mentions The Understanding Campaign, which is making its last push for funding. There's also Ampersand's re:Telling anthology, in which the postcard life story project is part of the $100 premium.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

#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.

[Update: Andy Devine is currently on a national tour for his first book, Words (Publishing Genius). See Being Andy Devine for tour dates.]

Monday, October 18, 2010

Meowpolis



I'm very excited to be a part of Meowpolis, a show of cat art, as is Moose the Cat. The show will open on October 19th at Baltimore's Whole Gallery, which is 405 W. Franklin Street, which is the H&H Building, 3rd Floor. Thanks to Rahne Alexander and Freda Mohr for putting it together.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Being Andy Devine

























Being Andy Devine (BAD), the national book tour for Andy Devine's first book, WORDS, is underway. The next stop is Philadelphia, October 16, 7pm, Fergie's Pub, which is 1214 Sansom--with Andy Devine, Jamie Gaughran-Perez, James Belflower, Kate Greenstreet, Joe Hall, Steven Karl, Lauren Bender, Dan Magers, Adam Robinson, and Ben Segal.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

#237 Jason McCormick: Tuition Instead of Rent

Jason McCormick was born and raised in Hawaii. He was the only kid with blonde hair at his school and the locals called him the haole kid (meaning tourist or mainlander; that is, an offensive term that insults somebody’s skin tone). At 9, Jason moved to California and attended Palo Alto High School in the Bay area. He started playing golf and his grades improved. He moved to San Diego and studied philosophy at San Diego State University. Then he moved back to SF and then back to SD to study philosophy. The most important decision that Jason ever made was deciding to pay for tuition instead of paying rent. In early 2009, he had just been laid off from his job and had 2K in his bank account and paid his spring tuition instead of his rent. He stashed his stuff at a buddy’s house and crashed there twice a week while living in the campus library the other 5 days a week. Jason looked for a job every day, but was homeless for 3 months. In fact, there was a small community of homeless college kids who befriended the security guards and stayed floors of the library that security never checked. Jason read a lot of books during that time. His grades improved and he felt like a free man. But being homeless definitely took its toll on him. Jason hardly slept. He had to carry his backpack filled with my school stuff and a duffle bag filled with clothes and a shaving kit. He exercised and showered at the student gym. At the end of that spring, Jason signed a contract to coach youth golf at a summer camp in New York. Jason made some money here and there, sold some stuff on Craigslist, worked a few tutoring gigs, and an hour after he finished his last final exam his buddy Jon picked him up at the campus parking lot and they left San Diego to drive cross-country. After Jason coach at the golf camp, he moved back to SF. In SF, he worked part-time as a golf instructor for kids. He also read and wrote a lot (mostly stories about how he breaks the rules, but he still manages to save the world). Then Jason moved back to SD to finish his BA in philosophy. He still plays golf, but his grades are slipping. Over the years, Jason has had a few serious girlfriends—a 4-year thing and a 3-month fling, but he’s been single for a year+. He’s been dating a pretty cool girl, Savannah, for a few weeks. They met at a kegger. She has long brown hair, smells like vanilla, and makes him laugh. Right now, Jason is pursuing an American dream. He plans on writing fiction for the rest of his life and he wants to write a great American novel. Then Jason will escape from the real world and live like a recluse somewhere near the Adirondacks.

[Update: Jason McCormick lived in the Adirondacks, off the grid, for the last few months. If you didn’t get an email back from him, that’s why. Jason also graduated from college and is a philosopher now. He feels pretty good about it, but he’s not sure how the job market feels about it. Jason is also writing a philosophy column at Outsider Writers Collective and Press and a weekly humor column at Hobo Pancakes. He’s also co-hosting (with Meg Pokrass) Fictionaut's reading series in San Francisco.]

Monday, October 11, 2010

T-SHIRT @ BLIP


I have a new piece called T-SHIRT that is about a t-shirt up at Blip (formerly Rick Magazine and, before that, formerly MississippiReview.com). Thanks to Blip's This Week editor Meg Pokrass.

Friday, October 8, 2010

A Monument to Love


There's a great review of Lo Que Queda de Nosotros, Tusquets' Spanish translation of How Much of Us There Was. Pepe Rodriguez calls the novel "a monument to love" ("un monumento al cariño").

New York Tyrant will release How Much of Us There Was in the US in early 2011.

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Andy Devine Tour


The Andy Devine Tour kicked off in Baltimore, made its way to NYC (attached), and will move on to dates in Muncie, Indiana -- Portland, Oregon -- Nashville, Tennessee -- Philadelphia, Pennsylvania -- back to Baltimore, Maryland -- Ann Arbor, Michigan -- Brooklyn, New York -- et cetera. Even if you don't live in any of those place, you can still read WORDS to yourself.

Friday, September 24, 2010

The Baltimore Book Festival


The Baltimore Book Festival starts in a few hours and, for the first time in years, it isn't going to rain. The 5ive:Ten Readings will be doing a special date in the CityLit tent on Saturday, 5pm. The lineup is Paula Bomer, Aryn Kyle, Jen Michalski, Justin Kramon, Jon Cotner and Andy Fitch (whose reading will be a kind of duet or dialogue), and I'll be reading something brand new. I hope to see you there.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

60 WRITERS/60 PLACES @ The New School


There's a screening of 60 WRITERS/60 PLACES at The New School in NYC on Wednesday, September 22 at 6pm. Time Out New York calls the film "innovative ... striking ... poignant ... humorous." The Los Angeles Times says: "The idea is so beautiful." It's free and open to the public. I won't be there, but Luca Dipierro, who co-directed, will be, along with a bunch of the writers in the film. Click on the pic for more info.

Friday, September 17, 2010

#171 Hayley West: The Build Up

Hayley Jolene West was born in Melbourne, Australia to English-immigrant parents. Her last name, West, is new; her middle name, Jolene, she took from her sister. Hayley has some horse-whispering heritage, has broken wild horses, and loves the feeling of galloping on a horse. When she has 5, Hayley’s little sister died in a friend's swimming pool—after which, Hayley and her brother were forced to learn to swim like fish. But most of her childhood was fantastic. Her parents used to party at their friends’ houses, so she often got to stay up late with other kids. At first, Hayley was a rat-bag in primary school, cheated a lot, ran away every other weekend. Then she was sent to a different high school and became a straight-A student, at least for a while. Hayley’s first two years of University were spent drinking, seeing bands, and protesting. After that, she changed her major from languages and did an associate degree in furniture technology. At the same time, she was working three part-time jobs and saving, saving, saving. At 21, Hayley traveled Europe for a year with a friend and ran riot. Hayley’s loud laugh makes Hayley particularly Hayley. At 22, Hayley returned to Australia and lived in Hobart, Tasmania where she studied furniture design for a year—before moving back to Melbourne to be with her father who was dying of cancer. After he died, Hayley didn’t do much for a year. Eventually, she went back to school and studied sculpture at RMIT. Over the years, Hayley has worked lots of different jobs, including a few in the adult industry—a dodgy dating agency, a chat-line operator, a sex shop assistant. It is fascinating. After all that, Hayley left a boyfriend and left Melbourne. She moved far away to Darwin where she had never lived before and then things really changed for her. It is one of the best decisions she has ever made. She began to flourish as an artist and she met a man named Tobias at an art gallery where she worked. He is also an artist and would visit the gallery once a week. Hayley was always excited when he showed up. Over 2 years ago, Hayley’s mother died, also of cancer, and becoming an orphan as an adult changed how she feels about her self and family. In 2007, Tobias proposed to Hayley in Venice. In 2008, they got married on leap day and then honeymooned at an arts residency. They've been together 4 years now and Tobias calms Hayley down, especially in the build-up—a humid, grey-sky part of the year with no rain—when she can go a bit troppo (everybody goes slightly mad during this time—more suicides, more babies conceived, more angry emails). Hayley is so happy to have found Tobias and can’t wait to spend the rest of their lives being artists together.

[Update: On March 18, 2010, Hayley West gave birth to a beautiful baby girl --Ramona Billie Lola Richardson. This winter, Hayley canceled her arts residency in the Philippines when her mother-in-law became very ill. She died just a month ago and everybody is still devastated. Their old dog Lassie, an Aboriginal camp dog, was about 11 years old when she died in the garden next to Buddha. Hayley loved that old smelly dog. Hayley will soon begin another arts residency in London—with Ramona. Tobias will be on his arts residency at the same time in Paris. She can't wait to get out of Darwin where everybody is already going troppo. Hayley is looking forward to re-evaluating her arts practice in London. It's been quite hard being creative while pregnant, but she’s loving motherhood more than she ever imagined.]

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

#131: Tao Lin Will Never Get Another Real Job for the Rest of His Life

Tao Lin was born in Flagstaff, Arizona. He had a very busy childhood that involved practicing the piano a lot. When he was 5, Tao remembers writing little books and selling them to his mother for $0.50. When Tao was small, his neighbor had a rabbit farm and sold them for money. Being near that changed Tao, and, because of it, he talks less shit about people publicly and makes fewer grand pronouncements. Growing up, Tao played kickball and baseball and basketball in the neighborhood, but not at school. When he was 10, he was playing poker with his neighbor and bet his entire coin collection. The neighbor won and Tao picked up his coin collection and ran back to his house and locked the door. The neighbor knocked a lot and said things like this: "Just give me half. I won't be angry." Tao kept practicing the piano until he no longer owned a piano that worked. Then, at New York University, he studied journalism, but he would have studied creative writing if there had been a program. His sophomore year, he broke up with his girlfriend and it was after that that he decided to focus really hard on writing. After that, Tao wrote and published you are a little bit happier than I am (poetry), Bed (stories), Eeeee Eee Eeee (novel), and cognitive-behavioral therapy (poetry). As Tao has noted in interviews, his writing expresses crippling loneliness, severe depression, and the arbitrary nature of the universe. Also, Tao enjoys repeatedly looking at statcounter, salesrankexpress, facebook, myspace, gmail, and bloglines. When a number changes, he feels like something has happened. His job is to promote himself to ensure that money will come to him 2-3 years from now, and then even after that. Everything is just some thing that Tao does. It can be either good or bad depending on the way he thinks about it. Once, Tao thought about peeing in an empty FYXX energy drink bottle and selling it on eBay. Another time, after he ran out of money, Tao sold 10% shares of his second novel, Richard Yates (2010), to six different people for $2,000 per share. But he has not sold shares for Shoplifting from American Apparel (2009). He will never get another real job for the rest of his life.

[Update: Tao Lin just published a new novel, Richard Yates.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What Is Andy Devine's Words?



There's a very nice write up of Andy Devine's Words by the good Thomas Baughman in which he asks this smart question: "Is this a fine example of avante-garde writing or a brilliant parody of postmodern pastiche and reader-response criticism?" Can the answer be yes to all parts of that question?

Saturday, September 11, 2010

The 5ive:Ten Readings


Sure, we took the summer off from The 5ive:Ten Readings, but we want you to know that we missed you and that nothing has changed between us. The first episode of the Fall 510 is going to feature readers from Unsaid Magazine, one of the greatest literary magazines ever published. The September line-up features Michael Kimball, Kim Calder, Kate Wyer, and Andy Devine. That's Saturday, September 18th, 5pm at the Minas Gallery. There are some good looking photos and bios at the link.

The Saturday after that, the 25th, The 5ive:Ten Readings will be at the Baltimore Book Festival in the CityLit Tent at 5pm with Paula Bomer, Aryn Kyle, Jen Michalski, Michael Kimball, Justin Kramon, and the writing duo of Jon Cotner and Andy Fitch.

I'm going to be reading brand new work. I hope to see you there or there.

I Will Smash You and 60 Writers/60 Places

There's a screening of I Will Smash You at the Minas Gallery (scroll down for more info) on Thursday, September 16, 7pm. There's a rave review in the City Paper. Bret McCabe says some really nice things, including this: "What's disarming about the entire process is not the clever, collateral entertainment damage that comes from staged violence; what emerges from these brief snippets are miniature personality portraits of human beings."


Or, if you happen to live near Bay City instead of Baltimore, then a few segments from I Will Smash You will be screened as part of the Clean Shorts Film Festival. That's September 17, 7:30pm (doors at 6:30pm). In case you're wondering, the film festival is mom-approved. Click on the pic for more info.


Or, if you'd rather see 60 WRITERS/60 PLACES, there's a screening at The New School in NYC on Wednesday, September 22 at 6pm. Time Out New York calls the film "innovative ... striking ... poignant ... humorous." The Los Angeles Times says: "The idea is so beautiful." I won't be there, but Luca Dipierro, who co-directed, will be. Click on the pic for more info.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Meowpolis



I'm very excited to be a part of Meowpolis, a show of cat art, as is Moose. The show will go up at Baltimore's Whole Gallery on October 19th. Thanks to Rahne Alexander and Freda Mohr for putting it together.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

#140 The Happy Life of Amelia Gray

Amelia Gray was born in Tucson, AZ, and had a safe and happy childhood. What Amelia mostly remembers is laughing a lot and the funny things her sister and parents did. For a childhood, it was just about as good as anybody could hope for. Around 10, Amelia started playing the violin. In 4th grade, Amelia wrote a science fiction story where everyone wore clothes that changed colors according to their moods, which was the beginning of the inventive fiction writer she has turned into today. Amelia went to Arizona State University for her BA in literature, and, when she was 20, she rode Greyhound buses everywhere. She’s afraid of flying, partly because of the way things rattle around inside an airplane. She thinks she might feel better if she could sit on the wing and hear how strongly everything is constructed. Amelia went to Texas State University for her MFA, and now she holds four jobs (transcribing a WWII veteran's journal, freelance writing, and teaching at two universities), which allows her to work all day while also avoiding work all day, depending on which project she focuses on. It's weirdly motivating. Amelia has night terrors that make her do funny things in her sleep like stand on the bed and run down the stairs. Once, she kicked out a window. Also, Amelia has two cats (Republic, who got his name because she found him in the dumpster behind the Banana Republic where she used to work, and Turkish, who got her name from the fact that she is big like an ottoman), but no boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, or dog. She wants a boyfriend like she wants 180 pounds of cotton candy. She has been the cotton candy in many relationships and she has been the person with the cotton candy on her hands in other relationships. It might make her sick, but she could fit either thing (a boyfriend or 180 pounds of cotton candy) into her lovely two-bedroom apartment in Austin (of which, by some small-world logic, MK’s brother-in-law is the landlord, and, she says, the best landlord ever). Besides that, Amelia has written a screenplay and a flash fiction collection in the past year. Right now, she’s working on a novel. She’s trying to figure out what type of writing is the most fun, which, right now, is flash fiction, which she’s trying to figure out how to accumulate into a novel, which she will.

[Note: I love Amelia Gray's first collection, AM/PM. Amelia's second collection, Museum of the Weird, won the Ronald Sukenick Prize for Innovative Fiction (FC2) and just published today.]

Thursday, September 2, 2010

#216 Matthew Simmons: He Likes to Get the Door for People

Matthew Simmons was born in Columbus, Ohio, and his family moved around a lot after that—Pennsylvania, Kansas, Upper Michigan. Matthew always had the sense that every place he moved had a version of a person from the last place he lived. He had a friend in Lenexa, Kansas named Loren who looked almost exactly like his friend Andy in Gladstone, Michigan (similar temperament too). Sometimes, Matthew tried to reinvent himself after a move, but eventually he realized that he was always Matthew. Matthew had wonderful parents, but still managed to be a kind of sad child, and sometimes he feels a little guilty about that. Lots of good things happened to him, though. For instance, once, he won Best Customizing in the Pinewood Derby. Also, it was nice the way Matthew and his brother were so close growing up (still are; they live just a few blocks from each other). It wasn’t until his senior year of high school that Matthew became a reader, but now he really likes books. In college, Matthew studied English—reading, writing, and writing about reading were the only things that he felt naturally good at. Once, Matthew wrote a short story that somebody else turned into a short film without asking him, but the guy flew Matthew to LA to see it on a big screen and he liked it. Years ago, Matthew had a friend, a coworker, and he would write weird little stories for her on sticky notes and then stick them on her desk. Matthew liked her and liked making her laugh. She encouraged him to take storytelling more seriously. Within a year, he was sending fiction out to online journals. Within 5 years, he had an MFA. Matthew continued to move through the years—Wisconsin, Iowa, Kansas, and now Seattle, Washington. Moving to Seattle was big for Matthew. He had been rootless for a while. After Matthew turned 30, a lot of things in his life normalized. He stopped clamping his jaws. He stopped not letting things go. Also, the Zoloft has helped. A while ago, Matthew realized that he is often really melancholy and so he decided to just be okay with being sad, which sometimes he can enjoy now—not in a self-indulgent way, but in a natural way. Also, Matthew’s girlfriend is really wonderful, so easy to be around. His mind quiets down when he is around her. He likes waking up next to her and seeing her face softened by sleep. She's beautiful and smarter than he is and he likes that. Matthew’s cat let Matthew tattoo his likeness on Matthew’s arm. Also, he likes to get the door for people. Now Matthew works as a copywriter and feels settled, but there is a chance that he will move again—to go back to college to pursue a Ph.D.

[Update: Matthew Simmons' new book, The Moon Tonight Feels My Revenge can now be pre-ordered. Matthew's first book A Jello Horse is now in its third printing and it received a really nice review in The Believer. Also, here's Matthew’s chapbook, Caves. He went back to Michigan for the holidays. ]

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Meg Pokrass Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard): #273 Terri Kirby Erickson

Terri Kirby Erickson was born and grew up in Winston-Salem, NC. Her brother and she were physically active from morning until night, constantly running around outside, and playing, playing, playing. They grew on the fruits and vegetables from people’s gardens, and fruit trees in the neighborhood, spent summers picking and eating blackberries, cherries, apples and persimmons. Both parents worked hard. Her father often had two if not three jobs (including working as a football referee for high school games), and her mother made dresses for Terri by teaching herself to sew. Her parents were fun, particularly her father, who still cracks her up. Terri's mom weaned Terri and her brother on fiction, reading to them regularly, making imaginary worlds live. Terri’s brother Tommy died in an accident when he was still in his twenties. Terri misses him every day of her life. Terri credits her path toward writing to Elizabeth Reynolds’ fifth grade class. Reynolds made a huge impression on Terri—she loved the arts and encouraged her students to pursue their creative interests. Terri became enamored with language at this time. Terri met her husband, Leonard, in middle school. She thought Leonard was striking when he was a teenager. He had long brown hair (which he still does, although there’s a little gray mixed up in there now!), “mischievous” green eyes, and a deep “radio announcer” voice. Terri was a year younger and too shy to speak to him, so never really did. He was way too “cool.” Terri, a self-defined nerd with glasses and braces, found Leonard many years later confessing that he thought Terri was “pretty” enough to be “intimidating” when he sat behind her in Spanish class. He must have been as intimidated as she was. They graduated from the same high school, but were going “steady” with other people at the time. They encountered each other again some years later, and started dating soon thereafter. On their first date, Leonard brought his Scrabble game to Terri’s apartment and shook her hand when he left, after beating her at Scrabble! They were married a year later, and are celebrating their 19th wedding anniversary in September. Terri had an ileostomy due to complication from Crohn's disease, and lived with that for eleven years—from the time she was 23 until 34—which was difficult to deal with on many levels. She believes it helped make her a more empathetic person, and a good listener. She knows how important it is to listen to people in pain. The most important event in her life was the birth of her daughter. Terri and her baby girl came close to dying when Terri was pregnant due to complications from the Crohn’s disease, which she has battled since she was 15. Many medical moments of life-threatening severity made giving birth dangerous. Miraculously, Terri’s daughter was born healthy. Writing poetry “seriously,” fulfilling a lifelong dream to become a published poet, is what Terri feels most proud of. When not writing, editing medical books and journal articles, conducting writing workshops or teaching, Terri volunteers at a local Cancer Center whenever she can, mostly talking about poetry with support groups. Terri was sick with 101 degree fever when she turned 50, but so far she likes her new decade. It’s like waking up in the same pair of soft, broken-in jeans every single day. At 52, she’s healthier than ever. She loves menopause and believes it’s a huge relief. Something that hardly anybody knows: Terri’s toes don’t touch each other—at all. Terri is confident that her happy childhood prepared her for the challenges of her adult life—that, her faith, and a sense of humor.


[Note #1: Terri Kirby Erickson is the award-winning author of Thread Count (2006), and Telling Tales of Dusk (2009). Terri loves to receive letters from readers that tell her how much a particular poem has meant to them. This happens often, because her work is warm, funny, sad, and accessible. Her work has been nominated for Best of the Net and the Pushcart Prize, and has appeared in numerous literary journals, anthologies and other publications including the Christian Science Monitor, Blue Fifth Review, Eclectica, JAMA, Thieves Jargon, and Verse Daily.]

[Note #2: You can read Meg Pokrass' expressive life story here. You can read Meg Pokrass' postcard life story of Ethel Rohan here.]

Monday, August 23, 2010

Andy Devine @ Big Other


The good Davis Schneiderman interviewed my pseudonym, Andy Devine, at Big Other. Andy and Davis talk about numbers v. words, dead parents, how to write alphabetically, and, of course, WORDS.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard): The Book

Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard) started as a one-night-only performance at the Transmodern Festival. Then it became a blog. After a while, I started calling it a side project or an art project or a collaborative art project. Lately, I've just been saying that it is one of the things I do--write life stories on postcards. And now it is also going to be a book, a selection to be published by the wonderful people at Mud Luscious. The publication date is a ways off, 2013, but that'll give me time to finally catch up with the waiting list.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

#153 The Coolness of Ben Tanzer

Ben Tanzer was born in 1968 in Washington, D.C., but raised in upstate New York. His father was a painter and his mother a psychotherapist; both were Jews from the Bronx, advocates for peace and the intellectual. As a kid, Ben read books at the dinner table even though everybody else talked. Ben hated little league, but played soccer for years. He wrestled until he broke his leg skiing. He ran track and cross-country throughout high school. Once, at the drive-in on a date, Ben was kissing with his eyes open when he saw a glowing, white cylindrical UFO hovering above the drive-in. In the local paper the next day, it was reported that other people saw it too, but it couldn’t be explained by anything military or weather-related. Ben didn’t study much until college, but he studied obsessively in college and was a double-major—English honors and psychology. The first time Ben saw his wife, she was doing aerobics in the basement of their freshman dorm. Ben vowed to meet her and did when it turned out their roommates were secretly dating and he found himself needing somewhere to sleep one night. They have now known each other longer than they have not, which is pretty cool. One thing Ben regrets about college is not going abroad and being too focused on grades, substance abuse, sports, being cool, and getting laid. One morning, toward the end of college, after another long night, Ben looked out at the dreary upstate morning and tried to think of the farthest place from there. He moved to San Francisco one month after graduation, and it was one of the best decisions he ever made. So was marrying his wife in 1996—and have their two kids (he hopes both of them soon begin to sleep through the night). And so was deciding to become a writer around his 30th birthday, something he had been thinking about for maybe 10 years. In 2007, he published his first novel, Lucky Man, which was great—not just getting published, but also meeting all sorts of wonderful writers and artists. In 2008, Ben published his second novel—Most Likely You Go Your Way and I’ll Go Mine—as well as the story collection, Repetition Patterns. Right now, Ben is the director of strategic communications at the national office of Prevent Child Abuse America (he received his masters in social work in 1996). It helps that Ben has a great ability to listen to others and ask them questions about themselves. What else? Ben still runs and reads compulsively. Plus, would love to find more down time to be lo-fi and low-key with his wonderful wife. And, at some point, he will learn how to surf, how to play guitar, and how to break cement blocks with his forehead—all things that would make Ben even cooler than he already is.

[Update: Ben Tanzer's new essay collection, 99 Problems: Essays about Running and Writing is now available Radiohead-style pay-what-you-want from CCLaP Publishing. Also, his new novel, You Can Make Him Like You is coming out in mid-December from Artistically Declined.]

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

#52 Josh Maday: Satisfaction in the Things He Makes

Josh Maday was born in Saginaw, Michigan, and grew up near there in an almost childless subdivision. He has wonderful parents, but has struggled with depression since the second grade. Eventually, he learned to push those feelings down, but, directed inward, he grew to hate himself—for not fitting in, for not being a better athlete (even though he was a three-sport athlete), for not being good enough for anyone (even though his father attended every game he played and his mother loved him very much and Sarah eventually would too). Josh grew up stoic, stone-faced, and after high school he worked as a mason’s laborer, which he hated. Around the same time, he fell in love with Sarah, which was easy to do, and he began to have other feelings inside him. He kept laying blocks and bricks so that he could marry Sarah. He continued to build things up and his debilitating low periods were no longer so low. Sarah’s tireless positive outlook began to change Josh’s self-image. He began to understand that people didn’t actually despise him, that that was just a function of clinical depression. The chemical situation that often derailed his life was being corrected. The other thing that changed the way that Josh felt inside was reading. Josh found consolation in big ideas, unanswerable questions, and reading books. As his personal library grew to over 5K books, Josh began to turn his complex interior life into his own stories, which are often strange in content and/or form. He does not see the point of writing a traditional realist story. Anybody could do that and Josh is not just anybody, a fact that he now accepts, along with his tendency toward the dark, grotesque, heavy, weird, and satirical. And Josh now finds satisfaction in the things he makes—whether with bricks, with words, or with love. Sarah has taught Josh to care about someone else and their first child is due in September. He is excited. There are so many good things that are going to happen in his life.

[Update: Josh Maday is now the happy father of a little girl. Josh also edited a new anthology (with Jeff Vande Zande): On the Clock: Contemporary Short Stories on Work. He continues to be a great guy.]

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Lo Que Queda de Nosotros

The Spanish translation of How Much of Us There Was, Lo Que Queda de Nosotros, officially pubs next month. It's always a special thrill each time one of my books gets translated, in part because I can't read any of them (not in any full sense). I can mostly only look at them. I think that's why I developed the habit of setting a bunch of copies out on the kitchen table, all face up, so that I can look at them every time I walk through the kitchen, which is quite a few times a day, some of which are to get a piece of my book cake. Anyway, the publishing house, Tusquets, which also published the Spanish translation of The Way the Family Got Away, Y la Familia Se Fue, has been wonderful through every step of this. They work with great translators and make really beautiful books.