The New York Times has described Cullin's writing as "brilliant and beautiful," but the author has confessed that "half the time I'm not even sure why I make choices in writing, or how it works when it works."
Cullin's novel Tideland was adapted for the screen and directed by Terry Gilliam in 2003, and the author also made a brief cameo appearance in the film, later stating about his time on the set: "There was a part of me that wanted to watch and experience every aspect of what Terry was doing… and he allowed me to do that while I was there if I wished to… but at the same time, I didn’t want his process to become too demystified… because I wanted to buy a ticket someday and sit down in a dark theater and simply watch the film without knowing too much about how it was filmed." Despite mixed reviews from critics, Gilliam's film adaptation won the 2005 FIPRESCI prize at San Sebastián International Film Festival.
Mitch Cullin and Peter Chang staying warm
Mitch Cullin is an American writer of Scotch-Irish and Cherokee descent. He is the author of seven novels, and one short story collection. He currently resides in Arcadia, California and Tokyo, Japan with his partner and frequent collaborator Peter I. Chang. Chang is a Taiwanese-born mixed-media artist, illustrator, and filmmaker. Cullin is credited as the producer of Chang's film I Want to Destroy America and he is also credited as the cinematographer and producer on Chang's 2008 documentary Tokyo is Dreaming.
In 2005, Cullin published his sixth novel A Slight Trick of the Mind, a portrait of Sherlock Holmes in old age for which The New York Times praised the author as being "an unusually sophisticated theorist of human nature," and Carolyn See of The Washington Post stated that "you don't read it to be 'improved' but for the plain joy of seeing what the language can do in the hands of an affectionate, very accomplished writer." The audiobook edition the novel won the Audio Publishers Association's 2006 Audie Awards for Unabridged Fiction.
Cullin's seventh novel The Post-War Dream was published by Random House in March 2008.
In April 2012, and to coincide with celebration of National Poetry Month, Cullin published The House of Special Purpose, a long narrative poem written almost two decades previously and featuring illustrations by Peter I. Chang, which chronicles the last days of the Romanov family during the Russian Revolution of 1918.
From May 2012 to February 2013, Cullin serialized the novel Everything Beautiful is Far Away as an online monthly magazine through the Issuu publication site. The book was written in collaboration with Peter I. Chang, and featured monthly guest artists and musicians, including Moby, Tsutomu Nakayama, Fights Monsters, Pleq, IP (Identity Problem), Caitlin Kirkley, DJ Terrapin, Chemical Tapes, Wind In Willows, Incompetech, Adriana Pasley, and The Ghost of Mendelsshon. Each monthly issue of Everything Beautiful is Far Away is free to read online via the Issuu site: http://issuu.com/lo-vi/docs.
A film version of Cullin's A Slight Trick of the Mind, titled Mr. Holmes, is currently in production, with Ian McKellen starring as Sherlock Holmes. The film is written by Bill Condon and Jeffrey Hatcher, and will be directed by Condon.
While attending the University of Houston in the mid 1990s, Cullin befriended the author Mary Gaitskill. Gaitskill taught him in several writing classes. She remained a mentor after he dropped out of college and moved to Tucson, Arizona to write. Since then, Cullin and Gaitskill have stayed friends, and in 2005 they did a one-on-one author appearance at Manhattan's Housing Works.
Some of Cullin's early unpublished writings (including Afternoon Misdemeanors, The House of Special Purpose, and 6 Poems) are housed at Syracuse University in its archive collection of poet scholar Robert S. Phillips' papers, letters, manuscripts, and correspondence.
Along with writers including Salman Rushdie and Amy Tan, Cullin is a founding author of the non-profit Red Room website.
Cullin has worked with Giant Sand's Howe Gelb, helping to design the cover and logo for Gelb's 2003 solo album The Listener.
The following year, with Canadian musicians Todd Bryanton and Rob Bryanton, he co-wrote the song "Lift Me Up To Sweet Jesus" for the soundtrack of Terry Gilliam's Tideland, a film based on his novel of the same name, and in which he has a cameo appearance.
Cullin is credited as the producer of Peter I. Chang's film I Want to Destroy America, a documentary about the life of Hisao Shinagawa, and he is also credited as the cinematographer and producer on Peter I. Chang's 2008 documentary Tokyo is Dreaming.
Peter I. Chang (born 1973) is a Taiwanese-born mixed-media artist, illustrator, and filmmaker. He has often collaborated with the author Mitch Cullin who is also his domestic partner.
In 2004, Chang and Cullin established Workshop Lo-Vi in order to "create quality film projects with little or no budget, utilizing as few accessories as possible, and cobbling the finished product together with tools/equipment that are easily available to anyone."
In a 2006 review of Chang's documentary Life in G-Chord, The Santa Fe New Mexican praised Chang's "simple camerawork" and the "whimsical touches" the director used in the film, further stating that "Chang makes good sense of the film’s endless supply of still photography and old footage through playful collage and editing."
Chang's digital short Regina Monologue, which features Cullin and was shot in Canada during the production of Terry Gilliam's Tideland, is included as an easter egg on Disc 2 of the UK DVD release of the film.
I Want to Destroy America, a documentary about the Japanese street musician Hisao Shinagawa, was officially released on DVD by Pathfinder Pictures in the summer of 2008.
In 2008, Chang's second full-length documentary Tokyo is Dreaming was completed, a non-narrative project that depicts Japan's capital during a 24-hour time period. The film received its world premiere at the 5th Berwick Film Festival in 2009. In an overview of the festival written in Empire, film critic David Parkinson described the film as "an astute and assured tableau that's compellingly counterpointed by a score by Calexico's John Convertino."
UnderSurface by Mitch Cullin (Author) & Peter I. Chang (illustrator)
Hardcover: 166 pages
Publisher: Permanent Pr Pub Co (September 1, 2002)
Amazon Kindle: UnderSurface
From acclaimed author Mitch Cullin, whose previous books have been described by The New York Times as "brilliant and beautiful...rhythmic and telling," comes Undersurface, a chilling page-turner that recalls Alfred Hitchcock and novelist Kobo Abe at his most existential. Probing the complex relationship between outward appearances and inward states of profound want, it is a story that at turns is intriguing and sordid, poetic and allusive, told in a compact yet intense manner, offering a distinctive take on a society far more complicated than what Americans often gather from their televisions and newspaper headlines.
Based roughly on real events, this fictional account follows its oblique protagonist as he moves through the loitering subculture found within public toilets and pornographic arcades, and, in the process, finds himself loosing everything he values, including his own grip on reality.
A mystery of both memory and mistaken identity, Undersurface is a starkly written, haunting novel about double lives, compulsion, and human sexuality, where secret desires lead to devastating circumstances.
As the carefully crafted plot twists in ever suspenseful directions, we are drawn toward a startling, possibly unavoidable conclusion, one which resonates long after the book has been set aside.
Complimented by the richly evocative imagery of artist Peter I. Chang, MITCH CULLIN has once again written a subtly detailed, affecting, provocative story that explores the sometimes harsh days of a man on the run, the enigmatic pull of the taboo, and the nature of transient life amongst a growing suburban culture.
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