Notes toward an unauthorized autobiography
(As if you care...)
I'm often amazed by what some folks post on their homepages. Accounts of torrid love affairs gone hideously awry. Allegedly cute photos of their pets and offspring. Embarassing paens to rock stars, models and actresses. I've even downloaded an x-ray of somebody's bowel. (But I've lost the URL, so you're just going to have to find it yourself.) In the Digital Age, the culture of narcissism has taken a frightening new twist.
That said, I'm not going to pass up my chance to mouth off about my personal experiences and accomplishments...
Assuming you haven't backed on out of here or fallen asleep at the keyboard, here are the salient facts of my life thus far:
Born in 1960, I grew up on the New Hampshire seacoast (all 17 miles of it), in Portsmouth , to be exact. I'm an only child. This never bothered me as a kid. As a guy in his early forties, however, I'm beginning to wonder if it's such a deal. Dad re-tooled submarines at the Naval Shipyard and Mom worked part-time for the Civil Service and the IRS.
I graduated from Portsmouth High in 1978 and matriculated at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, ME. It was a good place for me. I majored in English Lit., had a couple of one-act plays produced, was a member of the Alpha Delta Phi fraternity and edited the Arts & Entertainment section of the campus newspaper. I wrote my senior honors thesis on Vladimir Nabokov , with emphasis on "Lolita," "Pale Fire" and "Pnin." It got me departmental honors, but it wasn't very good and you're not going to find any excerpts from it anywhere on this site.
After graduation, I stayed in Brunswick another year, working in the college's public relations office. Then I completely freaked out my family by moving to Berkeley , California in 1983. A week after hitting town, I answered a classified ad and, within a month or so, was working as a copywriter at the San Francisco Newspaper Agency. The SFNA was the business arm of both the morning Chronicle and the evening Examiner, separately owned but jointly operated daily newspapers. It was my job to promote them and their various services through in-paper ads, brochures, radio spots, market books and the like. I also edited the company newsletter for a while, the less said about, the better.
At the same time, I was building a career as a freelancer. In 1987, I became The Chronicle's regular reviewer for science fiction and fantasy, and I wrote my first book, "Georgia O'Keeffe," a young-adult biography of the artist. In 1988, I decided to leave the SFNA and freelance full-time. Credits include contributions to Saturday Review, Parenting, Comics Scene, CompuServe Magazine, "The Whole Pop Catalog" (Avon), the San Diego Union-Tribune and a whole host of local and regional publications.
Beginning in 1990 or so, I was lured back to the SFNA, first on a strictly free-lance basis, and now finally as a full-time Chronicle staffer again. In addition to the usual selection of copywriting chores, I also edit the weekly automotive section, "Auto Buys."
I do, of course, continue to write on my own time. I'm in a monthly workshop with science fiction writers Carter Scholz, Eileen Gunn, Michael Blumlein, Pat Murphy, Daniel Marcus, Karen Fowler, Richard Russo (aka Richard Cornell) and Angus MacDonald. Right now, I'm writing a detective novel about temporal lobe epilepsy. Maybe you'll get to read it someday.
So there you have it! Questions? Comments? Impassioned but incomprehensible rants? Send them to Michael Berry.
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