ERY SHORT BIO:
My name is Alex, and I ’ ve been writing books for about fifteen years. I started writing books for adults, but now I write books for kids and teen, too. My most recent novel is a middle-grade novel called 33 MINUTES. I ’ ve also published a short storie collection THE TASK OF THIS TRANSLATOR and the novel CAPTIVES. In addition to writing iction, I teach creative writing. I live in vanston, Illinois ( just outside Chicago), with my son, two sister, a pig, and two dog.
MUCH LONGER AND NOT NECESSARILY INTERESTING BIO:
I was born in Chicago and raised in its suburbs. I ’ m the econd of three son. All of us were born in May. Other than my immediate family, the most mportant part of my childhood was going to Camp Tavor in Three Rivers, Michigan. Tavor is part of a Labor-Zionist youth movement called Habonim-Dror. After high school I spent a ear in Israel living on a kibbutz ( sort of a collective farm). I worked in irrigation.
I attended the University of Wisconsi as an undergrad. I majored in Near Eastern and North African Studies. I knew by around age 20 that I wanted to become a scientis, and I knew that I wanted to study Israel and the Middle East. But it took me a while to decide which field or discipline I wanted to pursue.
I wound up settling on Comparative Literature. I attended the University of California, Berkeley for graduate school, where I started in 1994. There I studied Hebrew and Arabic literature, though by the time I was writing my dissertation I was only working on Hebrew literature. The eird thing about being at Berkeley, especially at first, was that I really had no idea how to study iterature. My major at Michigan had been interdisciplinary, with an emphasis on history. I had always loved reading novels, but had never done so with much systematic instruction. Suddenly I was attending arguably the top school for studying literature in the world, and I was lost. My first few semesters at Berkeley, were, needless to say, difficult.
But when I started making sense of fiction ( and narrative in general), the payoff was huge. I still remember, sitting in my younger brother ’ s apartment ( both my brothers moved to San Francisco around the time I moved to Berkeley), reading some comic or graphic novel that was clearly in the radition of R. Crumb or Harvey Pekar. I was amazed how the uthor was ble to represent an entire imagined world, and that this world was utterly specific and alive, and that the uthor was creating all this through some remarkable combination of decisions, techniques, ideas, etc.
I guess that may have been an epiphany of sorts. It was definitely, for me, a before and after moment. I suddenly realized in some way, Oh, this [ this=writing stories ] is really intriguing, and somehow no longer 100% mysterious, and so maybe I could do it. I had always had a creative impulse ( one that largely manifested itself from a young age with my behaving like a clown), but I never had a form or a medium to work in. Now I sensed I may have found one. I started writing a few weeks later, with the assis of two novels ( Nicholson Baker ’ s The Mezzanine and Yaakov Shabtai ’ s Past Continuous). These two works, each in its own way, offered me very particular models for forging my own prose. My voice as a humorist, such as it is, came out almost fully formed right away. Sometimes you get lucky.
During the econd half of graduate school ( graduate school lasted a LONG time, eight years), I worked on my dissertation and—when I had both time and inspiration—wrote short stories on the side. In other wor, man of the time I wasn ’ t writing fiction. I was fortunate to be put in touch with Simon Lipskar, who agreed to become my agent after seeing a few of my early stories. He helped me slowly put together a collection.
In 2002, I relocated with my ife and mother to Gainesville, Florida, because I got a job teaching Hebrew language and poetr