Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
(on a postcard)

#199 Luca Dipierro Never Felt Italian

Luca Dipierro was born in Merano, in Northern Italy (near Austria and Switzerland), but Luca never felt Italian. Growing up where people speak Italian, German, Ladin, and many different dialects made him feel as if he didn’t belong anywhere. His childhood was mostly made up of two things: sports and books. Luca went skiing in the Alps every Sunday and he read books on the balcony for hours. He had loving parents and a kind of happy childhood, but somehow he always felt trapped. The family’s apartment was small and he had to share his room with his two brothers. In his teenage years, music became a way for Luca to define himself and he started to play drums in punk rock bands. He loved the do-it-yourself aesthetics and the extreme compression of the form. In high school, Luca did classical studies at Liceo Classico, which was for people who wanted to be a teacher or a critic, but Luca wanted to become a writer. When he was 18, Luca moved out of his parents’ house. Within a year, he had no money and was thrown out of his apartment. For a while, he stole food from a supermarket and slept in the park for a while. It was rough. It made him feel as if anything could happen to him—that he could go down and down and never stop going down. In college, Luca studied literary theory, which changed the way he looked at books, but college also made him insecure about his writing. After school, Luca taught Italian literature, but never enjoyed it. Over the years, Luca has worked all kinds of jobs—movie projectionist, factory worker, radio show host, bookstore manager, restaurant manager, translator. Over the years, Luca has had a lot of relationships that didn’t work out, but now he is with the woman he will spend the rest of his life with. In 2005, Luca moved from Italy to the US. The move didn’t change Luca, but it allowed him to focus more on what he is and what he wants to do. He realized that making art is the most important thing in his life and that it's the only way he can be happy: to write, to draw, to paint, to make films. Luca loves to touch people and things, to use pens and brushes, to eat things and put things in his mouth. Hands, mouth, stomach—that's what Luca is. His family and his Italian friends might be surprised to know that Luca doesn't miss Italy. At first, it surprised him too (but not anymore). Luca is happier in the US, even though he doesn’t know what is going to happen next. But he believes in divinatory art and the way that the Etruscans could read the future in the pattern of lightning or in the shape and color of a liver. Luca believes in that. Every morning, he tries to read his future in the bottom of his cup of coffee.

[Update: Since I initially wrote Luca Dipierro's postcard life story, he has completed two documentaries -- I WILL SMASH YOU and 60 WRITERS/60 PLACES -- that are being screened in various cities in the US, UK, and Europe. Plus, his first solo art show, All Around My Hands There Is Darkness, has been traveling throughout Italy. ]

[Luca Dipierro's website and films and art.]
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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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60 Writers/60 Places w/ I Will Smash You @ Creative Alliance


The good Aaron Henkin (aka The Voice) and I talk about both I WILL SMASH YOU and 60 WRITERS/60 PLACES in the last segment of WYPR's THE SIGNAL. The screenings are Friday, 7pm @ Creative Alliance.

[Click on the flyer to make it full-size.]
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#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.

[Update: Jessica Anya Blau's wonderful second novel, Drinking Closer to Home, will be published February 2011 by Harper Perennial.]

Jessica Anya Blau and The Summer of Naked Swim Parties.
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Double Feature @ Creative Alliance

The two films that I made with Luca Dipierro -- I WILL SMASH YOU and 60 WRITERS/60 PLACES -- they are going to be a double feature at the Creative Alliance on February 5th, doors at 6, screening at 7pm. There's more information, plus stills and trailers, at Little Burn Films.

[Click on the flyer to make it full-size.]

The good Aaron Henkin (aka The Voice) and I talk about both I WILL SMASH YOU and 60 WRITERS/60 PLACES in the last segment of WYPR's THE SIGNAL.
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Guest Lecture Series @ HTMLGIANT

I'm doing a talk-thing at a free writing conference and the talk is going to be called something like “The One-Hour Crash Course in Fiction Writing.” I’m going to try to cover ways to think about beginnings, language, syntax, details, voice, character, plot, story, revising, endings, etc. I had the idea because it has always been little bits of advice, something that I could hold in my head -- whether from a teacher, from something I read, or from another writer -- that were the most useful thing to me as I tried to figure out what I wanted to do as a writer. So this post on openings @ HTMLGIANT will be the first in a series of guest posts about some of the elements of fiction. Feel free to join in.
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Literary Death Match


The Literary Death Match is coming to Baltimore, January 30, at The Windup Space. I'm judging along with the wonderful Jessica Henkin and Rafael Alvarez. And there will be writers representing CityLit, Publishing Genius, JMWW, and Barrelhouse.
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I Kept Writing Them: Interview of Padgett Powell

I have an interview with Padgett Powell up at The Faster Times. We talk about his new book, The Interrogative Mood, question marks, fan mail, who the narrator is, and the adjectival nature of questions.

More interviews @ The Faster Times: Gary Lutz, Blake Butler, Rachel Sherman, Laura van den Berg, Ben Tanzer, Brian Evenson, Robert Lopez, Samuel Ligon, Dylan Landis, Joseph Young, Andrew Porter.
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Giancarlo DiTrapano Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard): #244 D.S. White

David Shane White goes by David if you're speaking with him but in written forums he prefers D.S. White. D.S. was born on July 6, 1970 in Houston, Texas. He moved to Hermosa Beach, CA, with his father when he was 12, dropped out of high school during his junior year. He went to work for a bookstore instead. He played baseball feverishly until age 16 and then pitted himself in the spectator's chair, where he has remained. Baseball is where his heart lies. At one point, D.S. spent more than six years homeless on the streets of downtown L.A., strung out on heroin and cocaine. He lived in the abandoned Ambassador Hotel for 6 months staring at the ghosts of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. He was eventually found and thrown out during a S.W.A.T. team exercise. Unknown to him at the time, the police occasionally used the facility for training. After being awakened one morning by three fully armored and aggressive officers holding sub-machine guns, they all agreed that it was time for him to leave. D.S. is unique in his ability to enjoy the company of most people. From artists to the mild, rich to homeless, he tends to think people are interesting. He met his wife of three years, Joanna, at the Seattle public library. He was using a video camera at the time so has the first time he ever saw her recorded. They are like-minded in their tastes for the arts. Gary Lutz, George Saunders, Pynchon in the books. Animal Collective, Can, and Nick Cave, musically. In film, they both enjoy Kurosawa, Von Trier, and P.T. Anderson. D.S. and Joanna generally view the world with the same lens. Resurrecting the relationship with his family is the greatest of D.S.'s accomplishments. He allowed it to disintegrate through criminal activity, lies, and drug abuse and spent years regaining some of the trust people once had for him. He doesn't know if he'll ever regain it all but will take whatever he can get. D.S. currently manages an autograph memorabilia business. Some of his favorite items include: a Dalai Lama signed baseball and a wooden spoon signed by John and Yoko. For now, it's the same old thing. Searching for a calm, quiet spot in a warm corner of the universe to share with his loved ones and his cats, a few treasured books and records, and an unlimited supply of ink and paper to draw and write his story on.
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Double Feature @ Creative Alliance

The two films that I made with Luca Dipierro -- I WILL SMASH YOU and 60 WRITERS/60 PLACES -- they are going to be a double feature at the Creative Alliance on February 5th, doors at 6, screening at 7pm. There's more information, plus stills and trailers, at Little Burn Films.

[Click on the flyer to make it full-size.]
Comments

#45 The Awesome Adam Robinson: New and Improved

Adam Robinson has lived in a bunch of different cities, but that probably doesn’t matter. His childhood was not notable except for the fact that he often ate lunch in a bathroom stall during his junior year of high school and except for all of the God stuff that he grew up with. He went to a Christian college, but only because his brother, his almost Irish twin, did. The Christian college was awesome for Adam (though it must be noted that this word often accompanies descriptions of religious experiences) and it was there that he learned that life is really terrible unless everybody forgives each other. Adam continues to be a Christian in spite of the fact that Martin Luther consummated his marriage to Katherine von Bora in front of his friends (or, possibly, because of this fact; it isn’t clear). Said another way, Adam is a dark and sad Christian like St. Paul. Also, once, Adam hid out all night in a porta potty at an amusement park so that he could see some bands that he really wanted to see the next day. The next day, a family he kind of knew gave him a washcloth so he could take a shower. Now Adam works as a technology buyer for an asset management company, but that doesn’t really describe him. It isn’t who he is. He is a guitar player for Sweatpants and the publisher of Publishing Genius and a writer of poems and stories and songs, but he cannot be fully understood in these terms either. It is better to think of Adam in terms of the time he jumped out of a speeding boat (that he was driving) and crashed it. The boat didn’t sink and Adam didn’t drown. The boat got stuck in some seaweed and Adam swam back to shore. Adam made a similar jump the time that he left behind his life in Milwaukee and ran away to Baltimore with Stephanie Barber, who is awesome (like Christianity, but in a different way). The experience was panicked and great. Another time, Adam was attacked while waiting for the bus and hit over the head with a bottle, but the attackers escaped with nothing of Adam's and Adam ended up with a bloody story to tell. One thing that should be learned from this: You cannot stop Adam Robinson. Also, it should be noted that the farthest Adam has walked at one time is 28 miles and
the farthest he has ridden a bicycle is 34 miles. He could go farther, though. He will go farther. In fact, there he goes now.

[Update: Adam Robinson's first book, Adam Robison and Other Poems is now available for pre-order from Narrow House. Plus, he is the genius behind Publishing Genius--short, massive books since 2006.]
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Literary Death Match


The Literary Death Match is coming to Baltimore, January 30, at The Windup Space. I'm judging along with the wonderful Jessica Henkin and Rafael Alvarez. And there will be writers representing CityLit, Publishing Genius, JMWW, and Barrelhouse.
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