Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
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#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.]
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Andy Devine Week (6)


There's an incredible interview with Andy Devine at the always incredible elimae. I couldn't have written the Afterword to WORDS without Devine's answers to Josh Maday's brilliant questions.

This concludes Andy Devine Week.
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4 Best Ofs for Everyday Genius

I guest-edited Everyday Genius back in August and part of September and I'm very happy to say that four of those pieces -- (1) How To by Aaron Burch; (2) What We Tell Girl to Do With Us Brothers If We Ever Stop Making Mud by Peter Markus; (3) Penumbra by David McLendon; and, (4) Modern Love by Stephen Graham Jones -- were selected for Dzanc's Best of the Web 2010. Way to go, Everybody. And, thank you, Adam Robinson, for letting me edit genius.

Plus, I did a guest-editing gig at Lamination Colony in early 2009 and Josh Maday's piece from that issue, Ashes to Undermine the Smell, also won a Dzanc Best Of.
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More Everyday Genius; More Andy Devine

This is my second week guest-editing Everyday Genius and today there is a great piece by Andy Devine. Yesterday was J.A. Pak's formally-inventive adaptation. Tomorrow is a Venn diagram from Ingrid Burrington. Then there'll be some Catherine Moran, and, of course, some Kim Chinquee. And, speaking of, there's an incredible interview with Andy Devine at elimae; the brilliant Josh Maday asks the great questions.
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Everyday Genius & Andy Devine

I'm guest-editing Everyday Genius for the month of August. Everyday Genius is the curious magazine arm of Adam Robinson's Publishing Genius Press. Today is Amelia Gray Day. Yesterday was a Sam Pinkism. Tomorrow and the next day and the next will be bits of genius from Ingrid Burrington, Aaron Burch, and Tria Andrews. The coming weeks will be filled with Kim Chinquee, Blake Butler, and the mysterious Andy Devine (speaking of, there's an incredible interview with Andy Devine at elimae; the brilliant Josh Maday asks the great questions).
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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.
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Interview at Word Riot

There's 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 is just appearing now, but it's actually the very first interview I did about DEAR EVERYBODY. 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, and congratulations on your beautiful baby girl.
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Josh Maday Says Really Nice Things About DEAR EVERYBODY at New Pages

I'm happy to say there's a really nice review of DEAR EVERYBODY by the wonderful Josh Maday at New Pages. I was trying 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."

Also over the long weekend, Rafael Alvarez (one of the writers who made THE WIRE great) writes 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 an interview went up at Urbanite that covers a lot of ground--everything from my first novel to DEAR EVERYBODY to what I eat for breakfast.

Plus, there was the rave by Michael Miller in Time Out New York's Fall Books Preview: "Michael Kimball Reinvents the Suicide Letter." Here's a little bit of it: "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." Here's the whole thing.
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#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
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