Ken Baumann

What Does It Mean to Be a Young Writer Today?

Take our own Ken Baumann. He’s twenty, and already toying with a style, voice, and rhythm all his own–see the newest New York Tyrant for proof. His work is at once strange and familiar, careful and mindful without constraining a sense of freedom which announces the promise of novelty, of a literature which is no longer merely literature. If any of that makes any sense to anyone. What I mean to say is, Ken is a young–very young, college-aged–prose stylist. Perhaps that is a rare feat. Perhaps it is not. But not often does an artist so young fulfill the promise of youth by making it new.

Take Zachary German. He’s twenty-one, I believe, and while he indeed belongs to a certain class of writers, his style, at a very original pace, moves toward a terminal space, a degree-zero. His work has much to say about contemporary art, culture, and values, on both a level of doing and being. In many ways, he walks the talk of a young Camus. He’s twenty-one. How?

I’m nineteen. I strive for an immediate stylism in my work. Whether or not I’m successful I cannot say. READ MORE >

Craft Notes / 296 Comments
January 21st, 2010 / 5:42 pm

Influences: Ken Baumann


Here’s the way we will be following up on my earlier “Name a piece of art that changed the way you thought about art” post here. If you responded, I will try to contact you about you choices with a mini interview.

First up, our friend and colleague Ken Baumann.

Here are the questions:

1) Pick one of the pieces you chose and describe the thing about it that seems particularly innovative about it.

2) Tell me what changed about your writing because of that innovation.

Here are Ken’s answers. Ken chose to talk about both his selections.

What seems innovative about 2001? Incredible technical achievement aside, 2001: A Space Odyssey is, to me, the perfect example of the power of cinema, especially that of primarily non-verbal storytelling. I’d say my experience with that movie fundamentally changed the way I viewed storytelling, and has informed my taste and practice in all realms of art.

What seems innovative about Cat’s Cradle? That was the first book I read that affected and strongly shaped my belief system. I hope the book is eternally regarded as innovative, in that it, to me, captured perfectly the sorrow and longing and absurdity and fractured nature of human experience.

Author Spotlight / 12 Comments
April 16th, 2009 / 1:45 pm

“How to Build a Universe that Doesn’t Fall Apart Two Days Later” by Philip K. Dick



[With a big hearty hat tip to Ken Baumann, who fwded me a link to this essay, apropos absolutely zilch, just because he thought I might think it was interesting. He was right and a half.]


It was always my hope, in writing novels and stories which asked the question “What is reality?”, to someday get an answer. This was the hope of most of my readers, too. Years passed. I wrote over thirty novels and over a hundred stories, and still I could not figure out what was real. One day a girl college student in Canada asked me to define reality for her, for a paper she was writing for her philosophy class. She wanted a one-sentence answer. I thought about it and finally said, “Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn’t go away.”That’s all I could come up with. That was back in 1972. Since then I haven’t been able to define reality any more lucidly.

[After the jump, I write Ken a note about what I thought about the essay]


Author Spotlight & Excerpts / 8 Comments
April 14th, 2009 / 11:40 am

Big Ken Baumann News: ‘Unguentine’ the film

unguentineThe most amibitious and awesome news update I’ve had the pleasure to divulge in a while, from none other than our own Ken Baumann. I’ll let his own words do the talkin’:

So I’m finally in the clear in a legal sense to divulge the promised information: I’ve optioned the film rights to Log of the S.S. The Mrs Unguentine by Stanley Crawford, and will be writing the screenplay.

A little back story: On recommendation of Blake Butler and others, I bought the book. As soon as it arrived in the mail I sat with it. I read it in two (unfortunately two — it would have been one if not for having to drive somewhere) sittings, and from really what was the fifth page in it began to percolate and pool within me. I was viscerally struck. Less than halfway inside I began to think ‘This would make a beautiful film.’ A few moments after I finished reading I felt I had to bring the story to a wide audience and a new medium. Patrick Welborn, my friend and agent, read the book and agreed. And now I, with the help of many many others, will do just that.

Ungeuntine on film? A story on a boat in a blur world where time is flesh and language is flesh and each page is fever sleep meshed with weird acid and a gloaming sense of death?

A huge undertaking, and an exciting one. In Ken’s hands, I feel ready to be eaten alive. Here’s to good luck in power and light, brother.

If you haven’t yet consumed this masterpiece, it is available in new edition from Dalkey Archive. Do yourself a favor.

Author News / 44 Comments
April 13th, 2009 / 12:08 pm

Ken Baumann on Shane Jones’s LIGHT BOXES

lbfrontsmallA review submitted by national heartthrob Ken Baumann, for Shane Jones’s just released novel LIGHT BOXES from Publishing Genius Press.

I feel it’s hard today to find a work of art that is earnest, that is compassionate. (Michael Kimball’s Dear Everybody comes to mind). I was startled by Shane Jones’s novel because it is so painfully both; it bleeds itself, and bleeds for others.

Light Boxes is a story about a community, about a man’s quest to rid his community of February, a bitter and long spell of cold that haunts the the town and its people. I don’t want to speak explicitly of the ‘narrative’ here, only because I think there is magic in discovery; it’s a sensual work. Many of the images affected me viscerally, and will stay with me for a long time. Dead bees pour from the sky, a broken father sits in the middle of a snow-covered street, a body surfaces in a river covered in text… I could list all the beautiful, and often tragic, images contained within for awhile.


Uncategorized / 12 Comments
February 25th, 2009 / 1:00 am

Mud Luscious

Reader, go buy.

I did. I will tell you what I think of them when they arrive. And I read them. I will read them before I tell you what I think of them.

I will probably read them before I tell you what I think of them.

There is a 64% chance I will read them, or maybe at least skim them before I tell you what I think of them.

57% maybe.

Definitely I will probably read, skim, or at least open them before I tell you what I think of them.

Also, I am sorry that this post moved Kendra’s down the page a little. I apologize to you, the reader.

And Kendra.

And to…well, you know. Them.

Presses / 4 Comments
October 24th, 2008 / 8:35 pm