Best known for: Kevin Sampsell is something of a small-press icon. He’s also the publisher of Portland’s Future Tense Books. In 2008, he put together Creamy Bullets, a tasty collection of bizarrely erotic, yet soberly minimalist fiction stories. In his latest book, A Common Pornography, Sampsell harnesses that same, unabashed frankness, spreading the wings of candor in a free-ball crossover from fiction to memoir.
Opening lines: “In August 2008, I had a panic attack that forced me out of my home naked.”
Biographical fact: A native of Kennewick, Sampsell regarded the Tri Cities as an ideal place to grow up. That was before he had seen anyplace else.
Odd fact: Sampsell didn’t read heavily until he was 23, and the main reason was because an ex-girlfriend made fun of him for never reading books.
Most likely to be heckled by: The Anti-Porn Activist Network
One reviewer said: “Sampsell shares loneliness with such intensity that his book almost defeats it — both his and yours.”— Time Out New York
Scariest thing his dad’s ghost ever did: “I felt possessed by a demon, both awful and sad. Maybe this, six months after the fact, was how I grieved for Dad. Maybe his ghost said, You haven’t grieved for me properly. He didn’t care that I didn’t want to grieve for him or that I felt like I didn’t have to. He was going to make me, even if it was against my will.”
Question to ask at Q&A so as to shut up the guy who’s making a speech and not really asking a question at all: Ask about his poetry performance troupe, Haiku Inferno. It’s badass.
Childhood memory: When Mount St. Helens erupted, Sampsell thought he was witnessing Doomsday.
Memorable passage: “This is how I learned about cunnilingus from a policeman’s wife and became a legendary fryer at the same time.”
Comparable to: Sampsell can sound like David Sedaris: dark, deadpan and detailed. His direct, matter-of-fact, colloquial tone is reminiscent of Raymond Carver.
What’s that Common Pornography title mean, anyway? The inevitable reality: Everybody’s got dirt in their background.
Kevin Sampsell appears as part of a panel discussion about different forms of nonfiction on Friday, April 16, from noon-1 pm at Gonzaga’s Jundt Art Museum. Free. Sampsell will also contribute to a panel discussion of memoirs about fathers on Saturday, April 17, from 11 am-noon at the Hotel Lusso. Free.