Friday, October 31, 2008

Johannesburg's The Citizen: "Superb"

There's a nice little review of DEAR EVERYBODY in THE CITIZEN, a Johannesburg newspaper, which says: "Kimball does a superb job," among other nice things. Thank you, Bruce Dennill.

Caketrain #6

The new issue of the very fine Caketrain is now available for pre-order. I have a short piece from FRIDAY, SATURDAY, SUNDAY in it, the novel I just finished. Plus, there are all of these other wonderful people in it too:

Wolfgang Matzl, Josh Wallaert, Danielle Wheeler, Aby Kaupang, Sara Levine, Eric Baus, Paige H. Taggart, Stacie Leatherman, Shane Jones, S.E. Smith, Katherine McCord, Jayne Pupek, Ryan Call, Thomas O’Connell, Catherine Kasper, Janelle Adsit, Kristen Orser, Tom Christopher, Janis Butler Holm, Ben Mirov, Clark Chatlain, Kim Chinquee, Bonnie Roy, Norman Lock, Stephen Ellis, Michele Kingery, Jordan Sanderson, Gracie Leavitt, Rituale Romanum, Joshua Ware, Jac Jemc, Karyna McGlynn, Michael Kimball, Elizabeth Winder, Forrest Roth, Jennifer Jean, Patrick Misiti, Kim Parko, Gretchen E. Henderson, Kathryn Rantala, Cori A. Winrock, Brian Foley, Anne Heide, Christof Scheele, Jenny Hanning, Kate Hill Cantrill.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

#103 Rachel Joy: Conflict Resolution

Rachel Joy was born in Uganda during a civil war, the youngest of six. Her father was a priest, her mother a nurse. When Rachel was 28 days old, her mother crossed the border to Kenya with all 6 kids. She is Rachel’s hero and her inspiration. At 3, Rachel’s father got a job in Sweden and the family followed him there. Rachel was a loner as a child. She started a year early because she was so smart. In 5th grade, Rachel started getting sick all the time—migraines, stomachaches, other various ailments. She would go home after school to read and write, so she didn’t have many friends. She devoured every book in the house, and then started on the books in the library. When Rachel reads, she forgets about the world around. When she was a child, her mother would punish Rachel’s siblings by forcing them to read and punish Rachel by forcing her to watch television—seriously. Rachel played the piano and wrote songs and poetry and stories. At 15, she went to a music school, but dropped out. Around this time, she started wearing suits and got the nickname Evil because she rarely smiled. Her body was in a state of uproar, but nobody could figure out what was wrong with her. Rachel finished high school and started university where she studied communication in English, international migration and ethnic relations, and peace and conflict resolution. She loved her freedom at university, but, after her third year, she decided she was done with Sweden, and applied for the University of Bradford (at the time, the only university in the world with an MA in conflict resolution). Warfare fascinates her, but coming from a war torn country has left Rachel with the desire to build up her native country—and maybe save the world. After her MA, she moved around a bit. In 2005, she was staying with her father when she found him dead in his bed. The worst part of dealing with her father’s death was that everybody wanted her to tell the story of finding him. The only time her father ever said that he was proud of her was when he read her dissertation. After that she moved around a lot again. Rachel will do anything on a dare, but she has trouble trusting people and lives a rather lonely life. She doesn’t feel alone, though, or that there’s anything wrong with it. She would like to have a family some day, but the thought of having people around constantly unnerves her. Rachel writes music and poetry that nobody will ever hear or read, which helps to keep her emotions in check. She is in love with words, reading them or writing them. And now she works as a consultant for GE Healthcare, which is ironic since she still suffers from an unidentified illnesss.

R. Is For Reading

Hey Josh Ritter

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

#102 The Ecstatic Shanti Perez

Shanti Perez grew up at the top of a mountain—without running water, electricity, or plumbing. When she was 8, she fell out of her grandpa's truck and she was out cold for a long time, but never went to the doctor. Shanti’s mother always wanted her to go away, so Shanti ran around in the woods—first with pigs and then with dogs. As a child, she was terrified of balloons and gym class. Her grandparents were like parents to her. One of her favorite toys growing up was a pond that her grandpa dug out with the backhoe. Shanti has always liked looking at tiny things, so she would set up her Breyer horses in front of a bush that resembled a full-sized tree, or a creek that resembled a raging river, and then photograph them so that she could see how real the scenery appeared to be in the photo. Shanti thinks in pictures. She knows where everything is located because she can picture everything. Sometimes Shanti blurts out random things in public, and she can have rigid expectations that make things difficult for those around her, but she completes every task with an amazing degree of thoroughness. When she was 14, her mother kicked her out of the house and Shanti traveled the homeless circuit. Nothing bad happened. A few years later, Shanti had two wonderful boys—Ki Song and K.C. Later, Shanti went to college where she studied anthropology, computers, and business (now she has an MFA in creative writing and an MA in management). Sometimes, college was difficult; to cope, Shanti kept her pet snake in her bra when she went to class. Around this time, Shanti met a boyfriend, a relationship that lasted 10 years. She didn't understand a lot about having a relationship then and thinks her boyfriend grew tired of trying to get close to her. Shanti still hasn’t recovered from that, but it was her two dogs, Lou and Greta, helped her to cope. Greta protected Shanti and sometimes when they sat on a hill together, Greta would lean into her and that was a great comfort. Now Shanti sees that decade-long relationship as a lesson and is grateful for it. Now she is with her boyfriend Phout, who sat behind her in 6th grade, who she is very attracted to, who accepts Shanti for who she is. With this relationship, Shanti also has two wonderful stepdaughters, Kia and Khay. Recently, Shanti was diagnosed with autistic disorder. Her family consisted of so many eccentric individuals that the autism went unnoticed until she was in her 30s. Now Shanti raises turkeys and chickens, plays with her rottweilers, hosts a show on blogtalkradio, writes fiction, reads, paints, studies hobo spiders and grizzly bears. Most days, she is ecstatic.

More Shanti Perez

Monday, October 27, 2008

#101 Elizabeth Crane: She’s Great

Elizabeth Crane was born in 1961 to a professor and an opera singer. She was a social and rambunctious child. The small family lived together until she was 6 years old and Elizabeth’s parents split up, which was disorienting (and at least part of the reason that Elizabeth didn’t marry until 34 years later). Elizabeth moved with her mother to New York City, which was overwhelming (the buildings too big, too physical, so dense). Elizabeth’s mother sang in operas that took them all over the US and Europe and Elizabeth sang opera too—until 5th grade, when she started writing fiction. She spent half of the summer in Iowa with her father’s new family. The rest of the year Elizabeth and her father wrote letters to each other, which Elizabeth loved. In 7th grade, she wrote a novella (based her half-sister as a creature that lived under the table). For college, she went to George Washington in DC, in an attempt to escape New York City. She kept writing, but didn’t learn anything from her writing teachers, which was a disappointment. After college, she moved back to New York City, which kind of sucked for another 10 years. She was trying to be creative and pay the rent and please her parents, and, well, you know. She had lots of different jobs, but didn’t like any of them. It was during this time that Elizabeth’s father bought Elizabeth her first computer, because he thought that any serious writer should have one. She kept writing, but it wasn’t until she read David Foster Wallace that Elizabeth realized that she could write like herself (instead of, say, Jane Austen). That’s when everything changed. She moved to Chicago even though she didn’t have a job, but finally felt like she belonged somewhere (so open, so beautiful, the lake). Her mother got cancer, which was terrible, but Elizabeth also realized that she needed to reconcile with her mother. Elizabeth tried to make amends for not being a good enough daughter, even though she was. Once, while she was talking, trying to explain, her mother fell asleep. When her mother died, Elizabeth realized that she needed to get on with her life. She took a year off from work and finished a novel that she had been working on for years. Her agent couldn’t place it, but, in the meantime, Elizabeth had been writing short stories. There was a mini-bidding war for the collection and Elizabeth burst out laughing when her agent told her the amount of the advance. Things have been pretty good ever since. She’s published three wonderful collections of short stories. She has a great husband who she met through friends (though she didn’t realize they were dating for the first two weeks of their relationship, not until he brought her flowers). And she has a dog named Percival Fontaine Barksdale, which—how great is that? Yeah, it’s pretty great.

More Elizabeth Crane

Buy one of Elizabeth Crane’s books

Friday, October 24, 2008

#100 The Chronology of Jonathon Bender (b.1967-d.1999)

1966 Conceived, probably on his father’s birthday, in San Clemente, California.

1967 Born during The Great Midwest Blizzard in Lansing, Michigan.

1968 Cannot do much for himself.

1969 The birth of his brother, Robert.
Jonathon asks for him to be returned to the hospital.

1970 Fears taking baths.

1971 Fails to blow out the candles on his birthday cake.

1972 Breaks a window with his face.
Thinks he has gone blind.

1973 Falls in love with his babysitter.
Beaten by his father for leaving a door open.

1974 Cannot stop hiccupping.
Runs away from home; returns the same day.

1975 His father teaches him how to fight.
Thinks he is crowned the Burger King.

1976 Wears red, white, and blue clothes every day for a whole summer.

1977 Tries to stop his father from choking his mother.

1978 Runs away from home again and hides from his father in the neighbor’s garage.
His blackouts begin.

1979 Thinks cancer is contagious.

1980 Begins high school.
Worries he caused his grandfather’s death.

1981 Finds his father’s pornography and begins to learn about women.
Feels he is beginning to rot after getting a cavity filled.

1982 His first visit to a psychiatrist.

1983 His first sexual experience with a girl who is not in a magazine.

1984 Loses virginity; does not want it back.

1985 Breaks up with first real girlfriend.
Graduates from high school.
Leaves home to begin college.

1986 Tries to hug his father, but his arms are not long enough.
His mother worries about him being away at college.

1987 His parents separate.
Considers suicide after reading depressing novels.

1988 Stops going to class or studying.
His parents divorce.
An airplane explodes over Scotland.

1989 Graduates from college.
Cuts off contact with his father.

1990 Disappears for a year.

1991 Chases a tornado.
Lies on resume to get weatherman job.
Gets camera time in a small market.

1992 Meets Sara Olson, who recognizes him from television.

1993 Starts living with Sara.
Gets distracted by airplanes.

1994 Attempts to make it rain; fails.
Marries Sara.

1995 Attempts to conceive a child with Sara; fails.
Buys a house with a cracked foundation.

1996 Committed to a mental hospital by Sara.
Months pass; gets himself out.

1997 Sara separates from him.

1998 Begins looking for his childhood.
Loses job.
Refuses to sign divorce papers.

1999 Tries to remember his whole life.
Commits suicide in his car in the garage
at his home in Jefferson City, Missouri.

More Jonathon Bender

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

#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.

Jessica Anya Blau and The Summer of Naked Swim Parties

Monday, October 20, 2008

#97 Lynn Alexander: Witness to the Suppressed Narrative

Lynn Alexander’s childhood was kind of strange because her father got custody of her and her siblings when her parents got divorced. Her father is amazing. He supported her mother even after the divorce and sometimes she lived in the house with the rest of the family. One of Lynn’s favorite childhood memories is watching the Sunday news shows with her father, which is probably why she’s still a news junkie. Lynn went to Stony Brook University and then to New York University, which changed her life. She became interested in social work because of a job she had working nights in a rough neighborhood. She mostly served coffee and let people linger when they had very few places where they could be. There were all kinds off people—runaway kids, prostitutes, crack addicts, seniors with limited money who took their spouses out to share a coffee. Once, she found a dead man frozen outside. Another time, she found a baby left in a car while its mother turned a trick. After this, she applied to social work school, and then worked at a psychiatric hospital. During this time, Lynn learned what it was like to be a single parent, broke, trying to go to college, working nights. She learned about exhaustion and about living in survival mode. She learned how to make things without art supplies, using things around the house—magazines, junk mail, packages—making collages, “rock women” out of Rolling Stone magazines, strong vibrant women who resembled the opposite of how she felt at the time. She made things with her daughter, who needed to know about such women. These collages were both escapist and celebratory. They were symbolic and they were triumphant. She learned about the way art can change lives. This combined with the study of social issues broadened her awareness and re-affirmed her commitment to combining work with making a difference in people’s lives. Now Lynn is a social worker, policy researcher, activist, writer, and poet. She’s a mother and a wife and married to a supportive, caring person. She’s an artist and it is the artist who is the witness to the suppressed narrative.

More Lynn Alexander

Even More Lynn Alexander

You Can Go Home Again

It was kind of great to go back home to Michigan and to MSU. I talked with writing classes and gave readings and did Q&As and it was all different and all good because I had never done any of those things in the place where I grew up. It was a kind of passage and I loved that my mother and my sister came to each of the readings in Lansing, East Lansing, and Detroit. I loved that some of my childhood neighbors showed up and that some of my cousins did and and that my niece and nephew who go to MSU did and that some of my high school friends did--and that this was the first reading that a lot of them had ever been to. I got to meet Josh Maday, who has done a ton to help get the word out on Dear Everybody with a review and an interview. I got to meet Matt Bell who wrote a grew review for the LA Times and then blogged about the reading at MOCA in Detroit. Gina Myers also came out to MOCAD and it's always nice to see her and I loved that she blogged about my mom and my sister. For the record, I never tried to burn the house down.

Friday, October 17, 2008

#96 Jamie Lin Is Perfect

Jamie Lin’s grandmother was sold to her grandfather’s family when she was 8 and she worked until she was old enough to be a bride (16yo). Jamie was born in China and her family moved to NYC when she was 8. The biggest difference was the snow. Jamie did not see her dad much and her mom worked at the sweat factory—where Jamie used to play, thinking it a magical place. Once, her dad told her to do the dishes, but she didn’t because she didn’t know him that well. Sometimes, she still feels bad about that. Her dad is the sweetest person. At first, Jamie was oblivious to American culture and she didn’t have friends outside of her ESL class. At 10, Jamie’s family relocated to the suburbs of New York. The first apartment they lived in had one bedroom, a storage room where Jamie slept, and a living room where her brother slept. She read lots of books and her favorites were The Boxcar Children where the kids controlled their own lives. After middle school, her English got a lot better and she joined the high school newspaper and literary magazine (she started out writing supernatural novels). At the time, she was infatuated with a Russian boy with a mischievous smile, but he was shorter than her so she never expressed her feelings. Jamie had body image issues. For two years, she wore the same two vests over and over again to cover her bulge. Her mom would tell her that she needed to lose weight and she would tell herself that her nose was too big for her face. Jamie did not feel invincible when she was a teenager. During high school, her two closest friends were white and Jamie learned to become more American from them. Now people can hardy distinguish her from other Americans, just a slight Chinese accent. In 2005, Jamie was introduced to Zoetrope and the online literary community—and everything changed. She learned about flash fiction and how to write stories that didn’t suck. Jamie thought she would become a completely different person once she got to college, but she didn’t. She was quite depressed during her first year, but was comforted by the idea of starting over. Now at almost 20, Jamie has found her two passions—writing and promoting social justice. She is deliriously happy, for once in her life, to be different from everybody else. She weighs more than she did in high school, but she has never felt so perfect and so proud to be exactly who she is.

More Jamie Lin

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Human Destiny Starkly Illuminated

There's a profile on all three of my novels in this week's City Paper, in which human destiny is starkly illuminated and and I am compared to a small woodland creature and it is revealed that I have miles-deep brown eyes.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

#94: Tim Hall: Bohemian Rat + Yuppie Queen = Bohemian Prince

Tim Hall has born into a family of English majors and has always loved reading. Besides this, though, his home life was often difficult. His father was a neglectful alcoholic and his mother hated his father. The family was repeatedly evicted from houses. When Tim was 10 years old, his parents divorced and he read The Hobbit—both of which led to Tim creating his own world. He began writing fantasy novels and serialized them for his classmates, though he sometimes got into trouble with his teachers for doing this. Tim continued writing and saw his father sporadically after the divorce. Through junior high, it became more difficult to keep the real world at bay. Tim’s mother often used him as a little soldier in the war against his dad. He developed ADD and couldn’t concentrate enough to write anymore. London Calling came out and he became a punk rocker. Tim often fought with his father and then his father died. Tim was still in high school and his last words to his father were, Fuck you. Tim doesn’t feel badly about this. It seems fitting. Tim went to college and dropped out. He drank a lot and played in hard rock bands. This was most of Tim’s 20’s. Then Tim realized the bad effects that alcohol had had on his family and he quit drinking. He quit music and quit a bad relationship and he returned to writing--founding Typism, co-founding Blacksmiths For Literary Progress, writing the novel Half Empty, and writing the story collection Triumph Of The Won't. These good changes in his life led a friend to set him up on a blind date with the woman who became his wife. Tim was stunned by her when he first saw her and has been living under her dazzling beauty and genuine kindness ever since. He was the bohemian rat and she was the yuppie queen and their little boy George is now the bohemian prince.

More Tim Hall

Buy Tim's new book Full of It

Sunday, October 5, 2008


DEAR EVERYBODY has been out for one good month+ and it’s been great. There was an early review in the Greenpoint Gazette that says DEAR EVERYBODY is "inventive and often extremely funny, but it will also break your heart. Michael Kimball is one of the most talented and original writers in America today. You should read his books."

Then there was a rave in Time Out New York's Fall Preview: "Michael Kimball Reinvents the Suicide Letter" where Michael Miller calls the writing “stunning” while also saying other nice things.

There was an a big excerpt of DEAR EVERYBODY in the September Urbanite and then they also ran an interview online that covers a lot of ground—everything from my first novel to DEAR EVERYBODY to what I eat for breakfast. Thank you, Hannah Spangler, for asking the questions (it was her first interview). And thank you, Marianne Amoss, for making it happen.

Rafael Alvarez (one of the writers who made The Wire great) wrote a profile in the Sunday edition of The Examiner. It's about the cross-country trip I took to revise the first draft of THE WAY THE FAMILY GOT AWAY.

And then there was a really nice review by the wonderful Josh Maday at New Pages. I tried to figure out how to just quote a tease line, but I couldn't. Here's the whole last paragraph: "Kimball writes with such deep emotion and crafts his sentences with such mastery that he sweeps away his own footprints and allows the reader unhindered access to the story. The fragmented nature of the book makes it an addictive read, giving the reader regular breaks while at the same time drawing them along. I often found myself thinking, 'Just one more letter. One more diary entry. One more interview,' until it was time to go back to the beginning and start over. With Dear Everybody, Michael Kimball achieves the perfect balance of form and content, comedy and tragedy – all without sliding into melodrama or sentimentality, instead evoking genuine emotion that will remain with readers far beyond the last page."

The playlist for DEAR EVERYBODY is up at Largehearted Boy's Book Notes (an author creates and discusses a music playlist that is in some way relevant to their recently published book). Largehearted Boy's David Gutowski says: "Dear Everybody is a cleverly constructed book that balances pathos and humor exquisitely, and proves Michael Kimball to be a master storyteller."

Gregg Wilhelm gave a very nice plug to DEAR EVERYBODY on WYPR's Maryland Morning: “quite a literary feat … the character of Jonathon Bender is stripped down to his emotional core.”

There's a great new literary magazine: No Colony, edited by Ken Baumann and Blake Butler, and it had two excerpts from DEAR EVERYBODY--the Chronology and a To-Do List.

And then the great first week+ for DEAR EVERYBODY closed out with a wonderful review in the Sunday LA Times. Matt Bell closes the review with this line: "There is a whole life contained in this slim novel, a life as funny and warm and sad and heartbreaking as any other, rendered with honest complexity and freshness by Kimball's sharp writing." I'm really happy for DEAR EVERYBODY.

The wonderful people of Keyhole Magazine made me a featured author. What does that mean? Well, that means there's a interview where Jonathan Bergey and his voice ask me excellent questions and then I try to answer them; it comes in two forms, podcast and words that you can read. Then there's a review of DEAR EVERYBODY by the amazing Blake Butler that put me in a state in which I could not describe what it said to my wife. Plus, there's a brief conversation that the good Karen Lillis and I had about a subject that is close to both of us, feeling in fiction. Plus, plus, there are excerpts from DEAR EVERYBODY. Thank you, Peter Cole, for pulling all of this together.

There was an interview that I did with Managing Editor Dave Rosenthal in Sunday's Baltimore Sun. Now the interview is up on their books blog, Read Street. Because of space the paper doesn't include the questions, just the topic and the answers. I say things like this: "I had about 400 fragments on different pieces of paper spread out in my dining room."

Also, I love this. I love Brandi Wells.

Then there was an interview at Word Riot that I did with Josh Maday. We talk a lot about DEAR EVERYBODY, but also Faulkner, Beckett, and Andre the Giant. The interview was the very first interview I did about DEAR EVERYBODY, though it appeared after other interviews. And Josh was also the very first person to ask for a review copy way back when, which I want to thank him for here, because that early support, well, honestly, it's a huge relief to get that. Thanks, Josh.

There is also photographic evidence of people reading DEAR EVERYBODY.

This next one made me really happy. I've been reading Bookslut for at least 5 years and now I'm an Indie Heartthrob.

After that, I was reading our copy of Baltimore Magazine (we have a subscription) and was surprised when I turned the page and saw the cover of DEAR EVERYBODY on Page 56. It's a really nice review by John Lewis in his Read It column. I couldn't find it online, but here are my favorite bits: "Lightning has struck again with this Baltimorean's book ... Kimball's protagonist possesses an emotional clarity that makes his eventual suicide all the more believable and tragic. ... You feel his pain."

Then the good Joseph Young wrote a very nice review of DEAR EVERYBODY that just went up at JMWW. Here are my favorite bits: "entirely unique ... Kimball has written a book of beauty. It's a sad book and a wonderful one."

And the last thing, so far—I grew up in Michigan and went to school at Michigan State University. I've never gone back to Michigan as a writer, so I'm looking forward to this trip back home. I'll be talking to classes at MSU and giving a bunch of readings: October 7, MSU Library; October 8, Schuler Books in Lansing; October 9, MOCA in Detroit. In support of that, Bill Castanier at City Pulse wrote a nice profile/review of DEAR EVERYBODY. You can go home again?

Saturday, October 4, 2008

#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.

Disseminating Josh Maday

Friday, October 3, 2008

Going Home to Michigan

I grew up in Michigan and went to school at Michigan State University. I've never gone back to Michigan as a writer, so I'm looking forward to this trip back home. I'll be talking to classes at MSU and giving a bunch of readings: October 7, MSU Library; October 8, Schuler Books in Lansing; October 9, MOCA in Detroit. In support of that, Bill Castanier at City Pulse wrote a nice profile/review of DEAR EVERYBODY.

Life-Changing Art

John Lewis of Baltimore Magazine asked me to write a short piece about a piece of life-changing art. I chose Barnett Newman's Vir Heroicus Sublimis (1950-1951).

Thursday, October 2, 2008

#93 Myfanwy Collins: Terrifying and Exhilarating

Myfanwy Collins was born in Montreal, Canada during the 1967 World’s Fair. By 5, she had a crush on James Garner from the Rockford Files. She wrote her first short story in first grade—about a girl and her dog who run away from home but actually live under the porch. At 10, her parents separated and then her father died unexpectedly in his sleep, which may explain Myfanwy’s lifelong insomnia. Her mother remarried 5 months later and her new step-dad moved the family to a small town in upstate New York. Myfanwy liked her new step-dad at first; he was nice, but then he became an abusive alcoholic just like her biological father had been. Myfanwy loved going to school—because it got her away from home—and she was glad when her step-dad died of cancer of when she was 16. In college, she took a full load of classes, worked full-time, and dated an older guy who worked as a prison guard. Myfanwy could have been a high school English teacher when she graduated, but after one of her students asked her to go to the prom with him she decided to go to graduate school instead. That was when her boyfriend cheated on her and broke up with her. She didn’t expect to be so glad that that happened, but she started to have a lot of fun. She stopped writing her thesis (she wanted to write fiction anyway—and did) and went on the road with Cirque du Soleil. After that, there were some other jobs and other boyfriends, but all that matters is that she met Allen. They have always had a chemical connection and she loves how open and how funny he is. They got married and tried for years to have a baby, but couldn’t. In 2001, her mother died from lung cancer and that was a huge heartbreak. Myfanwy quit everything and she traveled with Allen from national park to national park throughout the US and Canada. Eventually, they went home. In 2006, Myfanwy unexpectedly became pregnant. It was terrifying and exhilarating. She knew that she was carrying her whole family inside her--a new life was beginning and then Henry was born and everybody is pretty happy about that.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Joseph Young on DEAR EVERYBODY

The good Joseph Young wrote a very nice review of DEAR EVERYBODY that just went up at JMWW. Here are my favorite bits: "entirely unique ... Kimball has written a book of beauty. It's a sad book and a wonderful one."

#091 Kathryn Jachowski: Almost Completely Happy

Kathryn Jachowski has lived her whole life in Maryland. When she was a little girl, she loved animals so much that she had to pet any animal that she saw. She would stick her head in holes in the ground and talk to the worms. When Kate was 10, her parents divorced and then she lost contact with her father. Her mother told her that her father was clinically depressed, but this wasn’t true. Her new step-dad was a pastor, which was fine since Kate was always religious. Later, she learned that her father had a drug problem and was in jail. During her teen years, Kate told her friends that her dad was dead so she didn’t have to explain it. Kate always got good grades, but never liked school. Kate never got into trouble, but she did things like drugs that other people didn’t know about. She never told anybody because she always wanted to be the good girl. Eventually, Kate wrote her father a letter in jail, explaining why she was angry with him and enclosing a Get Out of Jail Free card from her Monopoly game. After he got out, they talked on the phone and eventually decided to see each other in person (Kate hadn’t seen him since she was 11), but he died from a drug overdose before that happened. Kate always got along with her mother, but she had a hard time realizing that Kate was growing up. Kate started dating Pat, an atheist, which her mother had a problem with. Kate had a breakdown and told her mother that she hated God. Kate moved out of the house and her mother abandoned her. But, really, all Kate wants is to be happy. She says she’s about 75-80% happy now that she doesn’t live at home, so she’s almost there.