3.19.22: Michael will offer a six-hour workshop in flash nonfiction in Kraków, Poland through Kraków Literary City-UNESCO. If you're in Poland, sign up here.
9.11.21: Michael delivers the 2021 Mencken Memorial Lecture for the Enoch Pratt Free Library, a virtual event held in the library's Poe Room. The title of the talk is "Babelobabuli: Notes on Mencken and the muddled topography of literary journals. Click here to watch the talk, which begins at about the 46-second mark.
8.25.21: "Neighbors, Gathered," first published by Alaska Quarterly Review, is named a "notable essay" in Best American Essays, 2021.
6.6.20: The Athletic chooses Hollywood's Team as THE book to read about the Los Angeles Rams as part of its NFL Book Club (paywall).
2.2.20: The Strange and True Tale named as a finalist for the Phillip H. McMaster Post-Publication Award for the novel. Congratulations to Lee Zacharias (a fellow Arkansas Razorback) for winning with her novel, Across the Great Lake.
11.4.19: Rare Bird books releases a paperback version of Hollywood's Team with a new on-field cover image.
3.11.19: The Strange and True Tale named a finalist in the Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award in the historical fiction category.
10.26.18: The literary journal, jmww, calls The Strange and True Tale a novel "worth reading for its poetry, its structure that floats and fades and reforms and dissolves, and for its willingness to allow realism and ambiguity of character, as much a part of life as pain, to discomfort its readers and, by doing so, make life a little sharper, a little fuller." Read the full review here.
7.26.18: "Downs tells a fascinating story in skilled, often elegant prose, and he treats all his characters with great sympathy." The Los Angeles Review of Books considers The Strange and True Tale and deems it "hypnotic" and "a meditation on pain."
6.11.18: "Wells is an odd, obsessive man, and Downs does an excellent job capturing his weirdness." The Missoulian newspaper offers its take on The Strange and True Tale.
5.22.18: The premier of The Strange and True Tale's book trailer! Watch this short film, made by the talented David Grossbach. It might be the best three minutes you'll spend today.
Writing and interviews
1.30.23: Menckeniana publishes "The Babelobabuli," my 2021 Mencken Memorial Lecture about H.L. Mencken and the contemporary literary journal scene.
1.25.23: The Southern Review publishes "Answer When You Can," my essay about a mysterious letter that arrived in my mailbox thirty years ago.
10.21.22: Louisiana Literature publishes my short story, "Detour," in which a man drives his wife's ashes and her Oxycontin around the country.
3.18.22: My first day teaching creative writing in Kraków, with Russia's war against Ukraine on the doorstep, and what I learned, published by Baltimore Fishbowl.
1.16.22: Baltimore Magazine invited several local writers to consider the city's literary legends. My contribution included consideration of the irascible H.L. Mencken.
1.13.22: Ploughshares publishes my essay about the time a guitarist with the Velvet Underground helped a teen-aged me recover from reading Lord of the Flies.
10.30.21: Two spooky flash nonfictions up at Ligeia Mag. True stories.
10.22.19: The Baltimore Review features Maryland writers, including these two short nonfictions.
1.13.19: My appreciation of Norman Maclean's classic Young Men and Fire, with thoughts on restraint in nonfiction, at Brevity.
12.30.18: "The Consequences of Pain Relief, Then and Now": Hartford Magazine republishes the essay that first appeared at The Millions – but with much better photography.
10.30.18: "Pain relief then, as now with prescription opioids, promised miracles—until unforeseen complications arose. ... Wells could rightly be called the Patron Saint of America’s Opioid Crisis." My article at The Millions.
9.27.18: A night of two surgeons: Horace Wells and The Butt God of Miami Beach. Listen to the podcast recently published by The Enoch Pratt Free Library and featuring reading and conversation with me and Paul Goldberg, author of The Chateau.
9.19.18: P.J. O'Rourke's magazine, American Spectator, excerpts a few pages from The Strange and True Tale for its issue on health care.
5.16.18: Spoiler alert! Sort of. American Short Fiction published an alternate ending for The Strange and True Tale as part of its Editorial Outtakes feature. This is an ending Michael wrote for the novel, then cut and replaced with the book's published ending.
5.3.18: Michael chatted with Marion Winik, the amazing author of The Glen Rock Book of the Dead and other books, about The Strange and True Tale. Their conversation can be found at Baltimore Fishbowl, once you scroll past the white space.
5.2.18: Michael talks with Sheilah Kast of WYPR in Baltimore about The Strange and True Tale. Their conversation begins at the 12:50 minute mark of the downloadable podcast.
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