Michael Kimball


Jonathon Bender had something to say, but the world wouldn’t listen. That’s why he writes letters to everybody he has ever known—including his mother and father, his brother and other relatives, his childhood friends and neighbors, the Tooth Fairy, his classmates and teachers, his psychiatrists, his ex-girlfriends and his ex-wife, the state of Michigan, a television station, and a weather satellite.

Taken together, these unsent letters tell the remarkable story of Jonathon’s life.

Dear Everybody, the book trailer



"Kimball creates a sort of curatorial masterpiece, finding the perfect spot for everything that a life comprises. ... As
Dear Everybody draws to a close, the letters and accompanying texts become progressively more intense and unexpected. ... The final power of Dear Everybody is that the reader shares in the inevitably conflicted feelings of those closest to Jonathon."

-- The Believer

"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."

-- Los Angeles Times

"In addition to writing stunning prose, Kimball evocatively hints at entire physical and emotional worlds lying just behind his story’s surface. In many cases, the author’s verbal compression both amplifies and dampens the tragic clamor of Jonathon’s letters ... they harbor such a strange emotional power that you’ll find them hard to forget."

-- Michael Miller, Time Out New York

"I don’t always say this, so I hope you will indulge me: Read Dear Everybody. It is a work of literary inventiveness and great compassion."

-- Bethanne Patrick, WETA's The Book Studio

Dear Everybody is named one of the "25 Important Books of the 00s" at HTMLGIANT

Dear Everybody is on Flavorwire's Ultimate Hipster Reading List

Dear Everybody is now available as an ebook.

Dear Everybody is "a beautifully crafted collage of life" (5 stars)

-- Lori Hettler, The Next Best Book Club

Michael is “a generous genius”

-- Dark Sky Magazine

"Michael Kimball Is Perfect" -- "the next great new literary discovery"

-- Celeste Sollod, Reading Local

"Each moment of [Dear Everybody] is magical. ... Using smooth rhythms, polished tones and humorous observations, Kimball gives us a monster of a family that somehow the reader needs to know. ... The explicit humanity rendered throughout, make Dear Everybody a truly great read. That Kimball is able to polish each element–each entry–in the collection to a high sheen evidences a talent not often seen."

-- Brian Allen Carr, Dark Sky Magazine

"Dear Everybody is one of the finest, most heartbreaking books I’ve ever read ... Kimball writes his characters with a tenderness that moves me profoundly ... The complexity in Dear Everybody builds subtly, but by the end of the book the immensity of the story that has been told is staggering."

--Roxane Gay, HTMLGIANT

"I know of no one ... who knows and understands every cog and flywheel and screw of the language machine to the degree of Kimball's reach."

-- Emerging Writers Network

"Michael Kimball's third book, Dear Everybody, will kick you hard in the ass!"

--William Hughes, American Chronicle

Michael the Featured Fiction Writer at The Nervous Breakdown

Dear Everybody is "forever embedded in my brain"

-- John Madera, Word Riot

The Guardian profiles Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard)

"Kimball's writing flourishes ... painting a sadly beautiful picture of a childhood and life"

-- The L Magazine

Dear Everybody is "a beautiful book, inside and out"

-- Jessie Cary, Shape of a Box

"Dear Everybody ... touches the heart of hearts ... snowflake-like letters ... exquisite ... the innermost feelings of real feeling ... "

-- Bard on Chinese

"Your heart will ache for Jonathon as he misinterprets the world and struggles to find his place within it."

-- Bloomington Public Library

Michael Kimball "is already delivering the future of the novel." He is "one of the authentic innovators in contemporary fiction," who should be compared to Raymond Carver and Italo Calvino, and his writing "sings the most intimate tragedies of the Great American Family."

-- Mauricio Montiel Figueiras, Letras Libres

Michael Kimball is "the dark overlord of all things writing, film and interview." DEAR EVERYBODY is "moving, even paralyzing ... pain can be captured on the page both sparsely and lyrically, an achievement that is magical."

-- Ben Tanzer, This Blog Will Change Your Life

"The most recent socks-knocker-offer was Dear Everybody by Michael Kimball. It's right up there with the best I've read. Ever."

-- Nik Perring, Nik's Blog

"Kimball’s background as a poet is apparent in his ability to isolate and frame small moments of a particular character’s experience. Fine attention to detail is exercised both as an art and as a special effect ... It has a surprisingly strong dark humor for being about such a serious topic, his observations are keen and quirky, and he knows how to let imagery make a scene swell. ... This writing spree [Jonathon's suicide letters] has all the highs and lows of a drug binge."

-- The Lesser of Two Equals

Dear Everybody is "a quiet tour de force ... Writing a novel with a moral centre without being ‘preachy’ is not easy. Michael Kimball deserves great praise."

-- Charlie Wykes, The View From Here

"elegantly and eloquently written ... It's an unforgettable book ... I highly recommend it"

-- Anne Stinson, The Star-Democrat

"Kimball does a superb job. ... The picture that is drawn, though, is unutterably sad. It’s a difficult read in places, but moving, more real and heartfelt than many stories where authors cover up their discomfort by giving their characters extravagant eccentricities."

-- Bruce Dennill, The Citizen

"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."

-- John Lewis, Baltimore Magazine

Dear Everybody is a "brilliantly designed novel ... It left me feeling as if the author left a huge chunk of his heart on the page and it is this generosity and depth that left me stunned."

-- Katrina Denza, Illuminate; Ruminate; Create

"Human Destiny Starkly Illuminated"

-- Rupert Wondolowski, City Paper

"Read this Book": "Dear Everybody is inventive, ingenious and downright irresistible, a series of letters left behind that present an astonishing life."

-- Caroline Leavitt, Carolineleavittville

"A wonderful, clever, imaginative and moving book. It really is quite something ... a fucking marvelous book."

-- Scott Pack, Me and My Big Mouth

"In Kimball's careful hands the epistolary form really gets to a special place. The assemblage of textual evidence of Jonathan's dissolution feels like a personal discovery. You don't feel as if there is a story being told, it's as if you are uncovering the story and telling it to yourself. I think that's where Kimball really succeeds, he pieces this novel together in just the right way so you don't really know that he pieced together this novel in just the right way."

-- M. T. Fallon, Trestle

Dear Everybody is "striking, witty, and above all moving. ... And here’s the most impressive thing to me – what Michael Kimball has done is to portray formally the fragmentation of a life (yet in a holistic and wholly satisfying way) – something which the form of a traditional novel would belie."

-- Elizabeth Baines

Michael Kimball "made me cry by creating a character called Jonathon, and making me care about him as if he were a member of my own family." Dear Everybody is "sweet, sad and completely authentic."

--Fiona Robyn, Planting Words

Dear Everybody "lives in the head of the reader after we have read it ... The letters combine to create a wonderful resonance that feels immensely vivid and real ... a lot of writers will read Dear Everybody wishing they had thought of something like this themselves."

-- Adrian Graham, Digital Fiction Show

"unputdownable ... the most searingly honest and authentic sentiments I have ever read ... I had to pick myself up off the floor at the end ... easily the best read of 2009 thus far."

-- Lizzy Siddal, Lizzy's Literary Life

Susan Tomaselli conducts an extended, collage-like interview with Michael in Dogmatika

"... the perfect way to tell the story of a man who has fallen through the net ... remembering that he has taken his own life gives a forensic importance to the documents. As you go through the evidence you may find yourself caring more with each page not only about his sad, short life but the continuing narrative of those other voices around him."

-- William Rycroft, Just William's Luck

"stunning...Kimball has crafted an unconventional masterpiece"

-- Citizen Dick

Dear Everybody is "a touching story of human relationships and how they can go wrong, and a story which made me stop to ponder the long-lasting effects our actions can have on others."

-- Tanabata, In Spring It Is Dawn

An interview in Lizzy's Literary Life about Dear Everybody

William Rycroft interviews Michael in Just William's Luck about how the book took shape, unreliable narrators, and writing about mental illness. Plus, the interview includes a six-word story and other publishing exclusives.

Ryan Manning asked Michael some questions for his interview blog, Thunk, and he tried to answer them. The questions are more difficult than they first appear to be.

349 Pieces: On Writing Dear Everybody in The View From Here

"In this intimate epistolary novel, a mentally ill weather man radiates crystalline awareness and luminous delusion while his family and others who knew him try to make sense of his tragic life. Both gloomy and amusing, Kimball's flurry of short short stories remind us of the necessity of communicating and the daunting difficulty of truly connecting."

-- Apostrophe Cast

"very affecting, warm" and "wry and funny and sweet"

-- Simon Appleby, Bookgeeks

5 stars (out of 5): "beautifully heartbreaking" and "a genuine discovery"

--Kathleen Wächter, The Junction

"fantastic"

--Dan Wickett, EWN

"one of the hottest, most innovative books of the year"

--HTMLGIANT

"the novel is spot on. It amazes me that a writer can build suspense in a story where we already know the ending. It’s kind of awesome. In fact, I enjoyed this book so much I did something I never do. I wrote the author a fan letter."

-- Jodi Chromey, Minnesota Reads

"Dear Everybody is about a weatherman who commits suicide, and it is heart-achingly good."

--Matthew Simmons, Hobart

a "gripping book for fall" and "oddly profound"

--The Rundown

"I’m giving this novel five out of five, it was so dark (though not disturbing) yet touching, I loved reading this novel and would recommend it to anyone."

-- Just Listen Book Reviews

"Dear Everybody is a book both intricate and new, painful and engaging, tapping on the clearest rendering of what is human, on the importance of the rhythm of each word. Dear Everybody is so many things--a collage, a hypnosis, an invention, a thing of awe, perhaps a warning--a work of new that will no doubt linger in your mind and in your stomach and in your aging skin for quite some time."

-- Blake Butler, Keyhole Magazine

"Kimball has written a book of beauty. It's a sad book and a wonderful one, and one that made me cry."

-- Joseph Young, JMWW

"Each fragment drifts across the page like a cumulous cloud and the cumulative effect of Kimball's book is melancholy and elegiac and amusing."

-- Susan McCallum-Smith, WYPR

Kimball's "latest book could be a breakout for him. ...his work is about death, and it has been stripped down in the stark way it deserves."

-- Bill Castanier, City Pulse

"Dear Everybody is a cleverly constructed book that balances pathos and humor exquisitely, and proves Michael Kimball to be a master storyteller."

-- David Gutowski, Largehearted Boy

“quite a literary feat … the character of Jonathon Bender is stripped down to his emotional core.”

-- Gregg Wilhelm, WYPR

"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."

-- Josh Maday, New Pages

"Dear Everybody is a quick read, yet very interesting and true to life. This book tells the tale of infidelity, mental illness, and the fact that life is often hard to manage."

-- Shooting Stars Mag

"Quirky, and idiosyncratic, this is a very amusing novel that is oddly endearing, and conceals a warm heart beneath its wit."

-- BooksQuarterly

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."

-- The Greenpoint Gazette

“One of the best reads ever -- R., Hey Josh

“A masterly written work of art” -- Ane Steenkamp, Life After School




Advance Praise for Dear Everybody


“In Bender’s unsent letters of apology or thanks, Michael Kimball transforms the familiar into the strange again and the simplest confessions are made moments of sublime wonder. Hold on to this book.”

-- Christine Schutt, author of All Souls

Dear Everybody has the page-turning urgency of a mystery and the thrilling formal inventiveness of the great epistolary novels. Jonathon Bender's magical letters to the world that never wrote to him are at once whimsical, anguished, funny, utterly engaging and, finally, unforgettable.”

-- Maud Casey, author of Genealogy

“Michael Kimball's wise-hearted epistolary portrait of an endearingly honest, suicidal depressive is by turns hilarious and haunting--and always thrillingly deep, surprising, and pitch-perfect. Dear Everybody confirms Kimball's reputation as one of our most supremely gifted and virtuosic renderers of the human predicament. It's as moving a novel as I have read in years.”

-- Gary Lutz, author of Stories in the Worst Way

“I love this book, love the strangely detailed world that accumulates through letters, lists, yearbook quotes, and psychological evaluations.
And I love the character of Jonathon Bender, the way he makes me so sad and also makes me laugh so hard. He will stay with me forever.”

-- Jessica Anya Blau, author of The Summer of Naked Swim Parties

“Dear Michael Kimball: Thank you for this book. What Jonathon Bender writes in his unsent letters are what each of us longs to say, what all of us have been saying our whole lives, just not out loud.”

-- Stephen Graham Jones, author of Demon Theory

“In his third novel, Kimball gives us the singular life of Jonathon Bender through a collage of different voices and sources and in beautifully rendered sentences. He mercilessly gives us a sense of the man and his trajectory, bringing us painfully close to Bender himself. This is a compassionate and compelling account of the quiet ways in which a life goes wrong.”

-- Brian Evenson, author of The Open Curtain