Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
(on a postcard)

#98 Chair

Chair didn’t remember being a tree or being a part of something larger and growing. Chair didn’t remember the sounds of the chainsaws or the limbs cracking and breaking as the tree fell to the ground. The first thing that Chair remembered was being in pieces—the frame and the legs, the back and the slats, the contoured seat—and how strange it felt when the glue was squeezed into its holes. But then Chair felt so big, so sturdy, so grounded when he was standing up on all four legs. Chair thought: I could walk anywhere with four legs. But then Chair realized that his legs didn’t move independently of each other and that he couldn’t move at all without some help from Hand. Hands pulled Chair out and pushed Chair in, which made Chair feel as if he had no control over what happened. Also, Chair wished that he had arms. Sure, sometimes Chair stacked with other chairs, but that wasn’t the same as holding a person or holding another chair. At least, Chair didn’t think so. Chair couldn’t really know. Chair did know that there were others like him covered with fabric or cushions, something soft, but Chair soon realized that his life was going to be hard. Over the years, Chair lost count of how many people pushed him around and sat on him. Usually, it was the same couple of people, but sometimes it could be anybody. And all the people were so much bigger than chair, so heavy and so mushy. But Chair was strong. In fact, Chair was amazed that he could hold up over 400 pounds and not even get tired. And Chair always felt so light, such relief, when people got off him. Over the years, Chair started to creak. It was his back at first and then he got a little wobble in one of his legs. Chair started to come out of his own holes and nobody helped him. Nobody pushed chair back together or tightened him up. That’s when Chair got loose and Chair started making noises that made the people laugh. But Chair didn’t care anymore. Chair thought: Wood and glue. Chair thought: Next time, I’m letting go. And when Chair did, he broke one of his legs and then his back. Chair thought: That didn’t even hurt. Chair thought: I should have done that sooner.
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Giant Lecture #5: Language and Sentences

Lecture #1 is about openings. Lecture #2 is about ways to keep the fiction moving forward. Lecture #3 is about some ways to get yourself to sit in the chair and write. Lecture #4 is about story and plot. Lecture #5 is about language and sentences.

One Reading, One Talk

On March 4th at 7pm, I'm reading at Atomic Books with Zachary German.

On March 6th from 11:30-12:45, I'm giving a talk--The 1-Hour MFA--at a free writing conference at CCBC-Catonsville (in the Barn Theater).

People Rise Up Out of the Sentences

I have an interview with Sam Lipsyte up at The Faster Times. We talk about his new book, The Ask, narrators, characters' jobs, and our wives reading our work.

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, Padgett Powell, Zachary German, Christopher Higgs.

#255: The Alphabetical Andy Devine

Andy Devine was born in Flagstaff, Arizona and it is probably significant that his first name begins with the letter A. From an early age, Andy loved to play with his wooden letter blocks and as he got older he would alphabetize them into walls of letters. In kindergarten, he was mesmerized by the alphabet that hung over the chalkboard—both the uppercase and the lowercase. Andy did not talk much, though, so it was a while before his parents realized that he had a speech impediment, a kind of stutter (which some have sited this as a possible explanation for his conceptual fictions). When he was 8, there was a terrible incident concerning the family’s baby being killed, though it is unclear how and who killed the baby. It is known, however, that Devine was sent to live with his maternal grandparents in Toms River, New Jersey after this and worked in the family grocery store growing up there. He spent a lot of the daytime in the backyard where he taught himself to sit so still that birds would land on him and squirrels would crawl over him. In middle school, Andy started reading a lot of books, his favorites being dictionaries, encyclopedias, and thesauruses—anything that arranged the material alphabetically. In high school, Andy was a small forward on the basketball team and a middle-distance runner on the track team. He began to notice girls and fell in love with girl after girl whose names started with the letter A—Abby, Alice, Amy, Angie, Ann, Anna, Audrey (in that order). The first girl he ever kissed was named Birdy. In college, Andy played in a punk band called Babylonia that only played covers of songs that were written in languages they didn’t understand. And Andy studied library science and, after graduating, worked for a time at the main branch of the New York Public Library, but he eventually became disenchanted with the Dewey decimal system as an organizational system. While living in NYC, Andy developed a hatred for actors and a taste for a thoughtfully constructed indexes. In his late 20s, his girlfriend Zooey broke up with him and she was the last woman that he ever loved. Andy tried to read novels to console himself, but he felt as if novelists were choosing the wrong words. In response, Andy started creating lists of words that should and shouldn’t be used in fiction, works that became implicit critiques of contemporary writing and publishing. In spring 2010, Publishing Genius will bring out his first book, WORDS. Other acknowledgments of his remarkable work are the fact that Andy Devine Avenue (in Flagstaff, Arizona) is named after him and his mention in a Frank Zappa song (“Andy”). Someday, there will probably be a bridge or maybe a mountain that is named after him.

[Read Andy Devine’s chapbook, As Day Same That the the Was Year. Pre-order Words by Andy Devine.]

Gigantic #2: America

I just received my contributor's copies of Gigantic #2 and it's an amazing looking book-object. Plus, there's stuff from Lydia Millet, Adrian Tomine, Sam Lipsyte, Robert Coover, Leni Zumas, Thomas Doyle, Thomas Allen, Meg Pokrass, Luke Goebel, Brian Allen Carr, Harriet Calver, Ben Siegel, Brian Beatty, Sibyl O'Malley, Able Brown, Ravi Mangla, Stuart Downs, Dylan Godwin, Marc T. Wise, Blake Butler, Claudette Bakhtiar, Dylan Nice, Ben Stroud, Reese Kwon, Luca Dipierro, I. Fontana, Sasha Fletcher, Max Fenton, Andre da Loba, Jordan Bruner. Plus, there is a section of collectible biographies of famous Americans as written by Deb Olin Unferth, Clancy Martin, Stephen O’Connor, Margo Jefferson, Ken Sparling, Joe Wenderoth, and mine is called "Edgar Allan Poe, as Told in the First-Person and Today's Language, Even Though I'm Dead."


I interview Ingrid Burrington at Hobart about protest signs, Venn diagrams, and other word-things.

DEAR EVERYBODY, in Paperback

DEAR EVERYBODY gets its paperback release next week. The official pub is March 1, but I'm already hearing reports of it being displayed on tables at McNally Jackson and other bookstores, and its already available at Powell's and Amazon and all that. Everything is the same, even the cover, except it's $5 cheaper and it has that great pull-quote from The Believer review about the book being a "curatorial masterpiece" for which I will forever be thankful.

To celebrate, a little, I have two events coming up. On March 4th at 7pm, I'm reading at Atomic Books with Zachary German. On March 6th from 11:30-12:45, I'm giving a talk, The 1-Hour MFA, at a free writing conference at CCBC-Catonsville, in the Barn Theater.

#60 Kim Chinquee: Fully Formed

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.

[Update: Kim Chinquee's beautiful second book, PRETTY, is now available. Kim Chinquee also recently became the fiction and creative nonfiction editor at elimae.]

[Also: Kim Chinquee's blog. And: Kim Chinquee's OH BABY.]
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Kevin Sampsell Week @ HTMLGIANT

I interviewed Kevin Sampsell for Kevin Sampsell Week at HTMLGIANT.

60 WRITERS @ LA Times' Jacket Copy

There's a nice write-up of 60 WRITERS/60 PLACES at the Los Angeles Times' Jacket Copy. Caroyln Kellogg says, among other things, that "the idea is so beautiful." If you're not in a city where we are planning an upcoming screening (Atlanta, Los Angeles, Austin, and Saginaw are in the works) and you want to see it, there are now copies available here.

Smash Cuts and Non Sequitors

I have an interview with Christopher Higgs up at The Faster Times. We talk about his new book, The Complete Works of Marvin K. Mooney, issues of authorship, and why stories are boring.

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, Padgett Powell, Zachary German.
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