Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
(on a postcard)

#60 The Fully Formed Kim Chinquee

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Kim Chinquee was three weeks late being born and she was a big baby when she finally arrived. She started reading before anybody else in her class and was the salutatorian of her middle school, but her parents divorced when she was 14 and Kim stopped studying in high school. She preferred sports, boys, and parties. When she graduated, she didn’t go to college. She couldn’t afford it and nobody had told her about financial aid. She was going to join the Navy, but the recruiter wasn’t there, so she joined the Air Force instead. She didn’t want to fly planes, but she didn’t really want to be a medical lab technician either—it was her 10th choice. She married another lab tech and they had a son a little over one year later. Technically, they were married for 7 years, but they were separated for the last 4 years of their marriage because her husband wouldn’t sign the divorce papers. He couldn’t believe that she actually wanted to leave him. The divorce finally became official and Kim left the Air Force too. She joined the Reserves, but the next few years were a difficult time. She was a single mother working multiple jobs, taking classes toward her college degree, and paying for food with food stamps. She took her first creative writing class because it filled a general education requirement and has been a writer ever since--though she never admitted that fact until she won the Henfield Prize and the 5K dollar award that goes with it. Now she is a creative writing professor at Buffalo State College and has published a great book of tiny stories called OH BABY. She may have started her writing life a little late, but she has arrived fully formed.

Chinquee+PC



More Kim Chinquee

Kim Chinquee’s OH BABY
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Reading Things I Wrote into a Microphone

Dear Everybody,

I've also been meaning to tell you about this audio page that I set up over at myspace. It's me reading things that I wrote into a microphone. It has some DEAR EVERYBODY from an appearance on WYPR (your public radio) and a couple of pieces from THE WAY THE FAMILY GOT AWAY that were recorded in Milan and then some more DEAR EVERYBODY.
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I Forgot to Tell You

I forgot to tell you that I was going away for a week, Maine, an island off the coast of Maine, Peak's Island, in a friend's summer house. It was a $130 flight, an $18 cab ride, a $7 ferry ride, and then you're on an island and it feels like you're living in another time (pre-internet, at least). The air feels different there than it does here. We rented bikes and rode around the road that went around the island. We made cairns on top of the rocks that are right next to the Atlantic Ocean. We explored an abandoned American battery from WWII and a 9-year-old boy told me that he found a skeleton in there once. We ate ice cream every day. My favorite is pistachio.

The life stories will start going up again tomorrow.
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I'm the Man Who Loves You

There has been some confusion lately concerning Wilco and whether I was ever in that band. The passing resemblance is understandable, but this isn't me. If I had a that hat, maybe. If I could sing just a little bit, maybe. But I don't and I can't. I do love you, though. Know that.

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I Have a New Website

I'm pretty excited about my new website at http://michael-kimball.com/, which has audio, video, excerpts, book tour information for the fall, everything that I could think of for all three novels. Of course, let me know if you think of something else. If you like it, feel free to let the wonderful and glorious Tita Chico know. And feel free to make links. I mean, we're already connected.
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#66 We're Lucky There's Blake Butler

Blake Butler’s two older brothers were miscarriages. Blake was almost a miscarriage too. He was blue and not breathing. He scored 1 out of 10 on the Apgar scale, which is almost not alive, and lived under the lights in the ICU for days. When he went home, he was his mother’s miracle. Understandably, she was overprotective with Blake when he was an infant, but that turned into permissiveness as he grew older, which gave him a sense of freedom that continues to inform his writing today. By 4 years old, Blake was performing considered monologues, crazy dances, music videos, and both sides of talk shows. It’s all on video (his mother will show you, if you want). Despite these performances, Blake was a fat child by the 4th grade. He liked comic books and video games. By 10th grade, he weighed 250 pounds and felt disregarded. His bedroom walls were covered with pictures of women that he tore out of magazines at the grocery store. He started playing bass in a band and started to feel better. By 11th grade, he weighed 170 pounds and people were nicer to him. He lost all the weight for a girl named Jen. He thought his weight was the only thing keeping her from him. It wasn’t, but Blake stopped being shy and started talking to girls. He played in lots of different rock bands—15, eventually. The first time Blake was on stage, under the lights, it reminded him of when he was in the ICU. Eventually, writing replaced music, though Blake brought the rhythm of the bass with him to the page. Blake still thinks of himself as the fat kid and he writes to find out what is inside him. This is one explanation for his tremendous written output. Another explanation is his insomnia, which allows him more conscious hours than most people are allowed. Blake is never fully awake or fully asleep, though, and the normal often becomes strange. But Blake keeps giving us everything that is inside him. It’s not pounds, but it’s a different kind of weight.


More Blake Butler
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The Trailer for DEAR EVERYBODY

Luca Dipierro and Rachel Bradley, of Black Arrow Studio, made a beautiful book trailer for DEAR EVERYBODY. If you like it, please feel free to spread it around. I would appreciate it and Luca Dipierro and Rachel Bradley would appreciate it too.


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#62 Micah Ling: Outside of Time or Competition

Micah Ling’s name has always given her problems. She is not Asian or a man. She is Native American (mostly) and a woman (completely). Micah has a twin brother, but she was born first (by about 45 seconds), and her twin likes to say that she ditched him (which she would never do). She loves her family and thinks of her parents as her best friends. She started writing her mother little poems when she was about 7 years old. Her father drives a motorcycle and she started running with him when she was 10 years old. When she was 11 years old, she became a vegetarian after seeing how the turkey was killed on Thanksgiving. It made her sad, especially since she gives a name to every animal that she sees. Micah ran through high school and through college. Running is her meditation and she can think about things while she’s running without getting overwhelmed. Micah went to Indiana University for her MFA in poetry and MA in literature—and met her future husband, Nate, there in Bloomington. Nate drove a motorcycle and she would ask him to give her a ride on his bike every time she saw him. After about a year of asking, he did and that was the beginning of them. It is years later and she continues to live on his endless supply of kindness and forgiveness. It is years later and Micah is still running, but her feet are full of pains these days. In college, she ran the national race with a broken foot that still comes back on her. She wishes that she had never raced. She would rather just run outside of time or competition. Now she has the best job she could have, teaching writing and literature. And she still writes poems, often formal poems, so that she can break all the rules.
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#59 The Storytelling Instinct of Shaindel Beers

When Shaindel Beers was 4 years old, her mother kidnapped her and they fled cross-country. For a year, they lived with strangers. Because of this, in part, Shaindel has never been afraid of anybody or anything. During this time, and before she could write, Shaindel told her mother stories, which her mother wrote down with crayons. This storytelling instinct and the fact that she observed adults often writing things led her to believe that this is what adults did, a behavior that she would later emulate as an English professor and a writer of poems (when she starts with a feeling) and fiction (when she starts with a character). Eventually, Shaindel and her mother drove back to her father, but the family was still dysfunctional—in part because of her mother’s OCD, which manifested itself, partly, as a hoarding instinct. In fact, growing up, Shaindel always thought of her friends’ houses as strangely neat, oddly empty. Her mother’s hoarding led to the family house being condemned and her mother going to jail for pulling a gun on two people who were trying to clean out the house. This might not have happened, but Shaindel’s father was at Subway getting a sandwich. Another thing that almost didn’t happen was Shaindel meeting her husband, Lee. Two hippies who live in a trailer on a reservation had fixed them up on a blind date—because they both read all the time and they both are hermits—but the hippies told them each a different meeting time. When Shaindel got there, Lee had left. Shaindel found out where Lee lived and went to his house. He answered the door in a wife beater that showed off his skull tattoos, but Shaindel was not afraid. They got married, and—oh, wait, did I tell you that Shaindel means pretty in Yiddish? It does. She is. Ask Lee. He’ll tell you.

Shaindel's Website

[Note: In between when I wrote Shaindel's life story and when it went up here, she was offered a two-book deal with Salt Publishing (second item on the left), so feel free to congratulate her on that. The white space at the bottom of the postcard bothered me, but I'm glad that this good news is what it was for.]

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An Early Review of DEAR EVERYBODY

There's an early review of DEAR EVERYBODY (pub date is September 1) in the Greenpoint Gazette. It's three paragraphs of kind words with no "but" anywhere to be seen. Here are the last three sentences: [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."
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The One Thing I Have Learned So Far

Everybody is amazing. Gena is amazing. Gina is amazing. Blake is amazing. Josh is amazing. Christopher is amazing. Zachariah is amazing. William and Heather and Joy are amazing. Graham is amazing. Peter is amazing. Micah is amazing and Micah's mother, Deborah is amazing. Red Delicious Apple is amazing. Karen is amazing. Adam is amazing. Anya and Anastacia are amazing. Rob and Rob's twin brother Kenny are amazing. Barbara and Holly and Bethany and Joe are amazing. Minas and Peggy are amazing. Emily and Ann and David and Albert and Gail and Kristina and Joe are amazing. Lynn is amazing. Bart is amazing.
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#10 The Life of Zachariah Zebadiah Handler


His parents named him Zachariah Zebadiah, but most people knew him as the Miracle Baby, this because only weighed 1 pound, 11 ounces when he was born 3 1/2 months early. While still in the incubator, his father took the wedding ring off his finger and put it on ZZ’s wrist. His father doesn't know it, but this is one of the reasons ZZ survived. And it is one of the reasons they are so close today (though his father doesn't realize that either). Since his birth, ZZ has gained 193 pounds, an increase of over 100x his early birth size. And by surviving, ZZ has gained other powers, which he uses to perform his own miracles, this in his work with the deaf and the blind.





















[Note: This is one of the first ones I wrote, when I was wriiting on the fly at the Transmodern Art Festival (see first post, down at the bottom there). They were a lot shorter in the beginning, though maybe more distilled. I'm glad that ZZ stayed in touch and sent in some family photos to go with his life story.]
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