Cullin, Mitch 1968–
Cullin, Mitch 1968–
PERSONAL: Born March 23, 1968, in Santa Fe, NM; son of Charles (a writer and filmmaker) and Charlotte (an artist and teacher) Cullin. Education: Attended University of Houston. Politics: Democrat. Religion: Greek Orthodox. Hobbies and other interests: Asian cinema.
ADDRESSES: Home—Arcadia, CA.
CAREER: Writer. Also worked as bookstore clerk in Dallas, TX.
AWARDS, HONORS: Award from Southwest Writers Workshop, 1995; Sylvan Karchmer Short Fiction Award, 1996; Charles Oliver Memorial Award for Fiction, 1997; award from Texas Association of Creative Writing Teachers, 1997; first runner-up for Howard Moss Poetry Award, 1997; Stony Brook Short Fiction Prize, 1997; featured author at Texas Book Festival, 1999; grant from Dodge Jones Foundation, 1999; poetry fellowship from The Arizona Commission on the Arts.
Whompyjawed (novel), Permanent Press (Sag Harbor, NY), 1999.
Branches (novel in verse), illustrated by Ryuzo Kikushima, Permanent Press (Sag Harbor, NY) 2000.
Tideland: A Novel, Dufour (Chester Springs, PA), 2000.
Cosmology of Bing (fiction), Permanent Press (Sag Harbor, NY), 2001.
From the Place in the Valley Deep in the Forest: Stories, Dufour Editions (Chester Springs, PA), 2001.
Undersurface: A Novel, Permanent Press (Sag Harbor, NY), 2002.
A Slight Trick of the Mind: A Novel, Nan A. Talese (New York, NY), 2005.
Also coauthor of a screenplay, The Plainsmen. Work represented in anthologies, including Best Gay Erotica 1996, Cleis (Pittsburgh, PA), 1996; Happily Ever After, Masquerade Books, 1996; Best American Gay Fiction 2, Little, Brown (Boston, MA), 1997; and Gay Fiction at the Millennium, Alyson (Boston, MA), 2000. Contributor to periodicals, including Harrington's Fiction Quarterly. Novels have been published in England, Japan, The Netherlands, Italy, and Greece.
ADAPTATIONS: Cullin's novel Tideland was adapted as a screenplay by Tony Grisoni and directed for film by Terry Gilliam, Recorded Picture Company/Capri Films, 2005; A Slight Trick of the Mind is under option from the Focus Features/This. Novels have been adapted as audiobooks, including A Slight Trick of the Mind, HighBridge Audio, 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Mitch Cullin is a novelist whose first novel, Whompyjawed, was described as "a deftly comic and rueful coming-of-age story" by Clay Smith in the Austin Chronicle. Set in the West Texas town of Guthrie, the story follows Willy, a high-school sports hero who has just graduated. As the novel progresses, Willy sets out to find his own destiny, opposed to the traditional one the local townsfolk have planned for him.
Cullin's next book, Branches, is a novel-in-verse told by a West Texas King County sheriff who throws his step-son down a well and reflects on the local life while his step-son calls out for help. Smith, in his Austin Chronicle review, commented that "its stark allure is an indication that the author knows what he's doing." In his next novel, Tideland: A Novel, which was adapted as a movie, Cullin follows a young girl and her one time rock star father after the girl's mother dies.
In the Cosmology of Bing, Bing Owens copes with his wife's stroke, which has destroyed the mind of this once promising poet. Further complicating his plight is the fact that Bing is a homosexual, something he has suppressed for years. As the story progresses, Bing becomes attached to two young students in the college where he teaches astronomy. Nick is the object of Bing's affection, but it is his roommate, Takashi, who is gay. Ray Olson, writing in Booklist, commented that the author "dexterously blends coming to terms at midlife, coming out, and coming to adult understanding." A Publishers Weekly contributor called the book an "earnest but erratic satire on desire, human frailty and hope of redemption."
The author presents eight stories in From the Place in the Valley Deep in the Forest: Stories. The tales range from a story of a Cambodian woman working in a forced-labor camp to a look at an Alaskan youth who is guided into crime by a friend. A Kirkus Reviews contributor called the author's first collection of stories "very intriguing." Another reviewer, writing in Publishers Weekly, commented: "It's good to see Cullin continue to stretch his boundaries."
Undersurface: A Novel focuses on John Connor, a middle-class man with a wife and children who begins to prowl the streets after his wife loses interest in sex. He ends up at first visiting adult bookstores, but eventually has liaisons in a Phoenix park. When an undercover policeman turns up murdered in the park, Connor becomes a prime suspect, sending him running off literally to the hills surrounding Phoenix as he searches for his partner on the night of the murder so he can prove his innocence. Ray Olson, writing in Booklist, called the novel "a gritty morality play." A Kirkus Reviews contributor referred to Undersurface as "a talented writer's bold step forward."
Cullin imagines a very old Sherlock Holmes in A Slight Trick of the Mind: A Novel. The ninety-three-year-old Holmes is retired in 1947 England and, even though he is having trouble with his memory, is reminiscing about a beautiful, married woman from a case he was on years ago. Despite his advanced age, however, the famous detective is on a new case involving a Japanese man's interest in a prickly ash plant and his father's disappearance many years ago. As the story progresses, the new case shows signs of being connected to that long-ago case and Holmes's infatuation. Writing in the Library Journal, Laurel Bliss commented that the author "skillfully blends three distinct story lines and time periods while offering a fresh perspective on the Holmes legend." Stephanie Zvirin, writing in Booklist, commented that the author's "sure hand … makes the larger-than-life figure surprisingly human."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Austin Chronicle, November 10, 2000, Clay Smith, "World of Books," profile of author.
Booklist, February 15, 2000, review of Branches; February 15, 2001, Ray Olson, review of Cosmology of Bing, p. 1115; November 15, 2001, Ray Olson, review of From the Place in the Valley Deep in the Forest, p. 548; September 1, 2002, Ray Olson, review of UnderSurface: A Novel, p. 55; February 1, 2005, Stephanie Zvirin, review of A Slight Trick of the Mind: A Novel, p. 945.
Houston Chronicle, June 24, 2005, Nora Seton, review of A Slight Trick of the Mind.
Kirkus Reviews, July 1, 2002, review of Undersurface, p. 899.
Journal North, January 9, 2000, Eddie D. Chuculate, "SF Native Rejects Rejection of His Dream to Publish," p. 3.
Kirkus Reviews, October 15, 2001, review of From the Place in the Valley Deep in the Forest, p. 1444; February 1, 2005, review of A Slight Trick of the Mind, p. 133.
Library Journal, April 15, 2005, Laurel Bliss, review of A Slight Trick of the Mind, p. 74.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, August 22, 1999, Gail Cooke, "Humor, Hope Help Brighten Town's Dim, Dusty Streets."
New York Times Book Review, May 15, 2005, Dan Chiasson, review of A Slight Trick of the Mind.
Publishers Weekly, October 29, 2001, review of From the Place in the Valley Deep in the Forest, p. 33; January 29, 2001, review of Cosmology of Bing, p. 65; February 14, 2005, review of A Slight Trick of the Mind, p. 50.
San Francisco Chronicle, April 24, 2005, Alexandra Yurkovsky, review of A Slight Trick of the Mind.
Texas Monthly, April, 2005, Mike Shea, review of A Slight Trick of the Mind, p. 60.
Washington Post, April 22, 2005, Carolyn See, review of A Slight Trick of the Mind, p. C03.
Agony, http://trashotron.com/agony/ (October 4, 2006), Rick Kleffel, review of A Slight Trick of the Mind.
BookSlut.com, http://www.bookslut.com/ (October 4, 2006), Christian Walters, review of Undersurface.
Mitch Cullin Home Page, http://www.randomhouse.com/nanatalese/mitchcullin (October 4, 2006).
Salon.com, http://www.salon.com/ (May 6, 2005), Laura Miller, review of A Slight Trick of the Mind.