Saturday, March 28, 2009

Kimberly Elkins Interview

Ever since Kimberly stepped foot in the Kerouac house as the new resident author, I seem to have been buzzing around her like an annoying mosquito trying to convince her to let me do a sketch of her at work. The very first night she stepped foot in the house was the evening when "txt" was being performed. If you recall that performance had some of the most sexually explicit offensive and downright insane dialogue being written by the audience in real time on iPhones and blackberries. Genius that I am, I chose a moment right after the performance to excitedly talk to her about my idea of sketching resident authors. To me she seemed shocked. I realized she was just getting to know her surroundings. She looked out the kitchen window for the first time. I don't know if she felt at home yet. I had spoken to soon. At several other gatherings I threw my proposals at her with no effect. I know that in a crowded social setting I am always a bit adrift. Timing and simple social graces seem to slip when I need them the most.
I was excited to discover that two Full Sail documentary film makers, Lyle Kastrati and Robert Navarro, had succeeded where I had failed. They landed an interview with Kimberly. Since I had already sketched a David Amram Interview in the Kerouac house I realized I just had to sit back relax and learn about Kimberly and her writing process through the video interview with her. The interview went great. She is writing a historical novel about a woman named Laura Bridgeman who is deaf, dumb, blind, and mute, she can only experience the world thru the sense of touch. Laura helped teach Annie Sullivan who later became Hellen Keller's teacher. Laura was a huge celebrity in her day. I found it interesting that Kimberly said that no matter how well researched the book might be, some part of herself would be reflected in Laura.
Kimberly and I talked in her kitchen this day, I felt for the first time as one artist to another. She told me something that I find reassuring and useful. She said that not having a great memory is actually a good thing for a fiction writer. It allows the writer to feel and interpret rather than just report the facts. I find myself walking that fine line every day writing this blog, am I just reporting, or am I expressing how I actually felt as I did a sketch? Do my other senses fall to the wayside as I sketch? Is my perception of myself and my identity dependent on the feedback I get from my subject?

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at


dewey chaffee said...

I am becoming more and more interested in Kerouac and this house each time I read your blog!

Joseph Hayes said...

So that was you at the Kerouac House and I didn't realize it. We were there that day to whisk David away to his hotel, and you introduced yourself. My apologies ... I adore your work and would have welcomed a chance to talk, but my partner Jennifer was interviewing David for a book. I've known Amram since 1973, and it's always such a joy to catch up with him. Next time!

Kimberly Elkins said...

Aw, Thomas, I didn't mean to seem shocked at the prospect of you sketching me; unfortunately that's sometimes the way my wide-eyed gaze translates. You were full of social graces! Thank you for the sketch--I love it--and for the lovely and insightful writing on your blog.

Thor said...

Hey Dewey, You can follow the Kerouac House on Facebook if you like.
Joseph, It was good to meet you. I first met Amram in 1987 in Up Sate NY at Pete Seeger's Clear water Folk Festival.
Kimberly, Thanks for visiting the blog, and I hope to get to know you more while you are in town.