Michael Kimball was born February 1, 1967 in Lansing, Michigan and is the author of three novels: The Way the Family Got Away (2000), How Much of Us There Was (2005), Dear Everybody (2008). He studied at Michigan State University and New York University, and now lives in Baltimore, Maryland.
Kimball is a founding editor of Taint Magazine, and the recipient of a grant from the New York Foundation for the Arts, a Boswell and Johnson Award, and the Lidano Fiction Prize. His short fiction has also appeared in numerous literary magazines, including Open City, Prairie Schooner, Post Road, Gigantic and New York Tyrant. Sam Lipsyte (author of Home Land, The Subject Steve, and Venus Drive) calls Kimball "a hero of contemporary fiction."
Kimball's third novel, Dear Everybody (2008), was published in the US and Canada, and in the UK, Australia, and South Africa. Dear Everybody developed from a short story published in Post Road Magazine called "Excerpts from the Suicide Letters of Jonathon Bender (b.1967-d.2000)." Both Stephen King and Dave Eggers selected it for their lists of notables in The Best American Series Best American Short Stories and Best American Non-Required Reading. Time Out-New York says that Dear Everybody includes "stunning prose" and that the letters "harbor such a strange emotional power that you’ll find them hard to forget." The LA Times comments: "There is a whole life contained in this slim novel, a life as funny and warm and sad and heartbreaking as any other, rendered with honest complexity and freshness by Kimball's sharp writing."
Jonathon Bender, the main character, had something to say, but the world wouldn’t listen. That’s why he writes to everybody he has ever known...including his mother and father, his brother and other relatives, his childhood friends and neighbors, the Tooth Fairy, his classmates and teachers, his psychiatrists, his ex-girlfriends and his ex-wife, the state of Michigan, a television station, and a weather satellite. Taken together, these unsent letters tell the remarkable story of Jonathon’s life.
Christine Schutt, author of Florida, writes of Dear Everybody that “In Bender’s unsent letters of apology or thanks, Michael Kimball transforms the familiar into the strange again and the simplest confessions are made moments of sublime wonder.”
Italian filmmaker and artist Luca Dipierro made a short film based on Dear Everybody.
How Much of Us There Was (2005)
Kimball's second novel, How Much of Us There Was, is the story about a man's love for his wife as she dies and how he attempts to manage his grief. Meanwhile, their adult grandson learns from them what real love is.
Rebecca Seal, in The Observer, called it "powerful and moving." Mariko Kato in Time Out London observes: "A deep love between an aging husband and wife is given a heartbreaking voice in Michael Kimball’s second novel Told through the eyes of the husband, the story is tender and poignant. His despair moves us because it is neither fantastic nor indulgent." Betty Williams of Telegraph & Argus writes, "This is the saddest book I have ever read and one of the most beautiful and unusual."
The Way the Family Got Away (2000)
Kimball's first novel, The Way the Family Got Away, is the story of a family who suffers from the tragedy of an infant son dying. Told from the alternating perspectives of the surviving boy and girl, the novel takes the reader on an emotional journey across the American landscape, as both children try, in their different ways, to reconcile what their family was with what it has become. The Times called Kimball's novel "moving and clever: the open road, so long a symbol of freedom and self-discovery in American fiction, is here rendered as denuded of promise, embodying desertion, desolation and rootlessness. ... Kimball’s novel reads as parable about the death of the family, of how impossible family life is in a numbedly materialistic society.”
The Way has been translated into Italian, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Spanish, and Hebrew.
Kimball is part of two collaborative art projects. The first is an interactive performance piece, "Michael Kimball Writes Your Life Story (on a postcard)", which he performs at festivals; the project was just covered in The Guardian. The other is a documentary film, I Will Smash You, which will be released in fall 2009.