Lit / Love / Society & Culture / Staff Picks

Writer Kevin Sampsell Is One Of Us

This Is Between Us

When I started reading Kevin Sampsell’s, newest book, This is Between Us, (out from Tin House Books.) I immediately thought about one of my favorite fiction writers: Jeanette Winterson.

I was giddy with knowing.  The knowing that I had found another writer to love.

I’m drawn to lyrical writers, and  to closeted and uncloseted poets.

Letting myself into Kevin’s writing was like talking to an old friend.

I thought, yes, he is one of us.

I rejoiced in the discovery of his language and remembered that sometimes fiction and poetry is one of the same…

This is Between Us made me feel alive. It is a novel that spans the very familiar ups and downs of  five years of a relationship. A man and a woman, both previously married, both with a child from said previous marriage, start a life together. This book chronicles that world.  What I love about the book is it’s real.

It reveals what is written on our bodies: a past, secrets, scars and fantasies.

However, what I cherished is the way the narrator unfolds the many flattering and unflattering lights of Love.

Love is what I am always reading for.

I don’t know Kevin that well, outside of social media, outside of his Powells Books fame, and a few friends who know him personally, but I bet he’d say the same about his narrator.

This guy is a romantic, like me.

I was fortunate to meet Kevin last week, when he read at Brooklyn’s BookCourt and was overjoyed when he asked if I could meet him earlier, in real life, for pizza before his reading. I had wanted to meet him for a long time and missed the chance to do so when I was in Portland last summer.

I bolted to the subway with my copy of his book shoved into my purse.

We defied the odds.  Here was someone that I only knew on Facebook, but someone who was as genuine and kind as I had imagined him to be.  Sometimes the “21st century problem” of not really knowing someone is null.

Here are some of my favorite parts because of the way they reveal the tenderness of the speaker, the delicacies of the past, and the things we carry within our love for another person.

And of course, for its poetry !

[Image 1:] A hopeless romantic, clearly.

[Image 2:] One of the most romantic things I’ve ever read about reading in bed.[Please someone say this to me. someday]

[Image 3:] I’m a big note-fan and I loved the way the narrator collects his lover’s bits of notes.

 kevin sampsell 1 luna luna


Kevin Sampsell is the author of the memoir, A Common Pornography (2010 Harper Perennial), and the short story collection, Creamy Bullets (Chiasmus) and the editor of the anthology, Portland Noir (Akashic). Sampsell is the publisher of the micropress, Future Tense Books, which he started in 1990. He has worked at Powell’s Books as an events coordinator and the head of the small press section for fifteen years. His essays have appeared recently in SalonThe Faster TimesJewcy, and The Good Men Project. His fiction has been published in McSweeney’sNerveHobart, and in several anthologies. He lives in Portland, Oregon, with his wife and son.


Leah Umansky’s first collection of poems, Domestic Uncertainties is out from BlazeVOX Books. Her second book, Don Dreams and I Dream, is inspired by Mad Men and is out by Kattywompus Press in early 014. She is also the host & curator of the COUPLET Reading Series in NYC. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in such places as: POETRY, Barrow Street, Catch-up, and The Brooklyn Rail. Read more at her blog and @Lady_Bronte


One thought on “Writer Kevin Sampsell Is One Of Us

Want to join the discussion? Luna Luna encourages well-reasoned, thoughtful, useful, civil, constructive, respectful and intellectual dialogue. That said, we're not into name-calling or bullying or character attacks. Violating comments will be deleted. Please read the post thoroughly and try not to make assumptions about the writer's perspective. Let's start talking!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s