Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story
(on a postcard)

Us @ The Next Best Book Club


There's a really nice early review of Us at The Next Best Book Club. The good Lori Hettler says, "Michael Kimball has blown me away with his upcoming release Us -- a beautiful, heart-wrenching novel." Plus, she pulled one of my favorite bits as an excerpt.

Preorders are open at Tyrant Books.
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#288 Stephen Graham Jones: He Lived and Died by Def Leppard

Stephen Graham Jones was born in Midland, Texas in 1972. As an infant, he got knocked out by a ceiling when a family friend threw him too high into the air and, before he was even one, he had more than 100 stitches in his face. Another time, the fire department had to be called to get his head unstuck from the highchair. It’s so easy to get hurt. When Stephen was 4, he got lost in Carlsbad Caverns and was found by this blond woman who said she could be his mom if he wanted. Before and after that, his childhood was dry and loud—with lots of pecans and lots of dogs and more stitches. The family was always moving—always different houses and different schools and different situations. In school, teachers were always after him for something—the way he wore his t-shirts, the way his boots smelled from feeding, the way he smiled, sometimes his long hair. When Stephen was maybe 12, his dad came through town and dropped off a Remington 870, Stephen’s first gun. For days, he stood out in a cotton field trying to figure out how to shoot it. Around this time, his 7th grade teacher died—the last teacher to believe in him—and there weren't any others after that. By that point, Stephen was ready to blow holes in the world. Once, he had to have his tongue sewn back into his mouth. Another time, Stephen ate 14 hamburgers in a single sitting, but now he can't remember the last time he ate one. He used to drink tall glasses of water before meals just to feel full. One year, he grew 13 inches. In high school, Stephen only wanted to play basketball, but he got kicked off a team that went on to be state champions. He didn't study anything or do any homework. He doesn’t remember taking any tests. One semester, he had 81 truancies. Once, he just sat on top of the school all day, but usually he played pool or worked on his truck or a friend's car. He raced his truck a lot. Sometimes, he went out shooting things. He lived and died by Def Leppard. Louis L’amour saved his life by giving him something to read and Hacky Sack saved his life by giving him something to focus on (and he still plays whenever he can). Eventually, Stephen received his diploma from an alternative school. Then he went to college even though he wasn’t supposed to. That’s where he met his wife, freshman year, at the edge of a parking lot, which changed his life. She was just who he’d been looking for and he still finds her every day. In 1991, Stephen ran a 5-minute mile while carrying a snake. For graduate school, he flipped a coin—philosophy or English. In 1994, in a jail cell, a guy named TJ saved his life. Stephen ended up with some brain damage to his visual cortex, but he’s all rewired now. Stephen started writing a month or two after that, when he could. In 1996, he saw Scream and that reminded him of everything that he'd loved growing up and it made him realize that it could be that way again. Horror movies are worlds that make sense, contained systems where bad acts are punished and good acts rewarded. Now, Stephen and his wife have a couple of kids. His wife doesn’t need to read his books because she sees right through them to him. He still has a lot of dogs and he has a lot of knives. Stephen has always trusted knives (but not guns) and he cuts himself a few times with each new knife so they can get to know each other. Stephen likes to wear boots, probably too much, and he likes to get lost. He likes his bikes, which he rides because basketball trashed his knees. Stephen wishes that he could meet his wife again for the first time and that he had every single moment of his kids' lives on a better Rolodex in his head.

[Note: More Stephen Graham Jones.]
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My Brain Kept Going in the Machine: Blake Butler

I have an interview with Blake Butler up at The Faster Times. We talk about There Is No Year, the space on the page, being receptive, doubling, and a possible sequel.

More interviews @ The Faster Times: Gary Lutz, Blake Butler, Laura van den Berg, Brian Evenson, Robert Lopez, Dylan Landis, Padgett Powell, Sam Lipsyte, Dawn Raffel, Kevin Sampsell, Gina Frangello, Evan Lavender-Smith, Ken Sparling, Matt Bell, Ingrid Burrington, Andy Devine, and Jessica Anya Blau, Deb Olin Unferth, and Susan Henderson.
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A Devastatingly Beautiful Portrait


There's a wonderful early review of Us by the good Michael Goroff at the Barn Owl Review in which he calls the novel a "devastatingly beautiful portrait of a human being losing the person who matters to him most." Many thanks to Michael and to Mary Biddinger.

There's also an except from Us called Home Things up in the first anniversary issue of Corium. Many thanks to Lauren Becker.

Preorders are open at Tyrant Books.
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Us

I think that I love this book more than any of my other books. I had more fun writing Dear Everybody, but writing Us changed me in fundamental way. The novel was first published in the UK, South Africa, and Australia in 2005. The Spanish translation came out last fall and there is an Italian translation in the works. I couldn't be happier that it is now getting its American release with Tyrant Books, where pre-orders are now open. Thank you, Gian.
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The Fear that You're Broken in Some Way

I have an interview with Susan Henderson up at The Faster Times. We talk about Up from the Blue, frame stories, writing from a child's perspective, and writing about depression.

More interviews @ The Faster Times: Gary Lutz, Blake Butler, Laura van den Berg, Brian Evenson, Robert Lopez, Dylan Landis, Padgett Powell, Sam Lipsyte, Dawn Raffel, Kevin Sampsell, Gina Frangello, Evan Lavender-Smith, Ken Sparling, Matt Bell, Ingrid Burrington, Andy Devine, Jessica Anya Blau, and Deb Olin Unferth.
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Αγαπητέ όλοι





I'm very excited about this one, Αγαπητέ όλοι, the Greek translation of Dear Everybody.
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#280 Brin-Jonathan Butler: Boxing and Happiness

Brin-Jonathan Butler was born in Vancouver, the son of a Gypsy mom from Budapest and Dutch lawyer dad. He was a really happy kid until he was about 11 years old. That was when a group of kids tricked him into going to the woods to see a fight. He didn’t realize he was about to be beaten up and swarmed by a huge crowd of kids. He just remembers a lot of feet coming at him and a hailstorm of phlegm. That attack left him afraid to leave his house for 3 years. When he was 13, Brin started riding the school bus with one girl even though he lived a block from school. He was afraid to talk to her, but he watched her read her book everyday. That was about the only thing that kept him going for a few years. Later on, Brin wrote his first book about that bullying incident and the girl he stalked on the bus. A decade after he last saw the girl on the bus, she found him on Facebook and asked for a copy of the book. After reading it, she flew over from Europe and wanted to get married. That was weird. When Brin was 15, he caught a Mike Tyson interview on TV where he talked about being bullied growing up and the books he was reading in solitary confinement. The next day, Brin went two places he'd never been: a library and a boxing gym. He read about Tyson's life and how he'd been serially picked on for being a sensitive kid (and, 15 years later, Brin sat in Mike Tyson's living room thanking him for saving his life by introducing him to boxing and books). Brin’s first day in a boxing ring, he was knocked unconscious, but it was less scary than showing up to the gym in the first place so he went back. Boxing taught him that cowards and heroes feel the same, but act differently with those feelings. At 20, Brin became obsessed with Cuba, a place where books and boxing meant more than anywhere else. He trained under Olympic coaches in Cuba and boxed as an amateur light-heavyweight. For a couple of summers, he hustled speed chess in the park (Bobby Fischer was always a hero of his) before teaching boxing to support writing fiction and making films. Brin met his wife on Facebook and propositioned her the moment he saw her photo on a friend's page. She had on a furry ski hat and a strange in-between expression. He asked her to fly to Vancouver and when she didn't write back he called her in Manhattan and asked what time he was picking her up at the airport. They spoke for an hour and he called back the next day. 3 days later she flew over. In 2000, Brin visited Cuba and discovered a haunting and beautiful place. Brin has spent the last 11 years going back as often as he could and he knows less about it now than when he first visited. Right now, he’s directing a film about a Cuban boxer who left his home and family to shipwreck into the America Dream and working on a memoir about his time in Cuba. He’s happy and excited to find out what happens next in New York City.

[You can read about Brin’s meeting with Mike Tyson and other writings here, as well as more about his documentary at Hero, Traitor, Madness. You can find out about taking boxing lessons with Brin here.]
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You Must Use a Filter!

I have an interview with Deb Olin Unferth up at The Faster Times. We talk about Revolution, writing fiction versus writer memoir, earnestness, irony, running, and the necessity of using a filter.

More interviews @ The Faster Times: Gary Lutz, Blake Butler, Laura van den Berg, Brian Evenson, Robert Lopez, Dylan Landis, Padgett Powell, Sam Lipsyte, Dawn Raffel, Kevin Sampsell, Gina Frangello, Evan Lavender-Smith, Ken Sparling, Matt Bell, Ingrid Burrington, Andy Devine, and Jessica Anya Blau.
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The Zoo Reading


I'm reading at an AWP off-site event at the ZOO -- Friday, February 4, 2pm. It's with Stephanie Barber & Matt Bell & Blake Butler & Amelia Gray & Alec Niedenthal & Alexis Orgera & Timothy Sanders & Deb Olin Unferth & Colin Winnette & Joseph Young. It's with Tigers and Polar Bears and Gorillas. Come see the animals. Come hear the stories.
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Pear Noir!

I have a new piece called "Overdosing on Aspirin" from the new novel that I've been working on in the new Pear Noir!, #5, along with a bunch of other good folks: Caren Beilin, Rosebud Ben-Oni, B.J. Best, Crispin Best, Sarah Bridgins, Sean Burke, Jordan Castro, Kevin Catalano, Kim Chinquee, Heather Cox, Laura E. Davis, Stephanie Dickinson, Jacqueline Doyle, Corey Eastwood, Gabe Durham, Elizabeth Gonzalez, Sheila Heti, Katie Inlander, Peter Kispert, Peter Tieryas Liu, Steve McGouldrick, Jen Michalski, Kevin Moffett, M.V. Montgomery, Dolan Morgan, Jon Mueller, Matt Siegel, Zack Strait, J. Erin Sweeney, Abigail Templeton-Greene, Richard Thomas, and Jasmine Dreame Wagner. Many thanks to the good Daniel Casebeer.
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A Realist Who Exaggerates a Little

I have an interview with Jessica Anya Blau up at The Faster Times. We talk about undercover cops, Christmas letters, using families for fiction, and Drinking Closer to Home, etc.

More interviews @ The Faster Times: Gary Lutz, Blake Butler, Laura van den Berg, Brian Evenson, Robert Lopez, Dylan Landis, Padgett Powell, Sam Lipsyte, Dawn Raffel, Kevin Sampsell, Gina Frangello, Evan Lavender-Smith, Ken Sparling, Matt Bell, Ingrid Burrington, and Andy Devine.
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