Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend (Dicks)

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend
Matthew Dicks, 2012
St. Martin's Press
320 pp.
ISBN-13: 9781250031853

I am not imaginary...

Budo is lucky as imaginary friends go. He's been alive for more than five years, which is positively ancient in the world of imaginary friends. But Budo feels his age and thinks constantly of the day when eight-year-old Max Delaney will stop believing in him. When that happens, Budo will disappear.

Max is different from other children. Some people say he has Asperger’s, but most just say he’s “on the spectrum.” None of this matters to Budo, who loves Max unconditionally and is charged with protecting him from the class bully, from awkward situations in the cafeteria, and even in the bathroom stalls. But he can’t protect Max from Mrs. Patterson, a teacher in the Learning Center who believes that she alone is qualified to care for this young boy.

When Mrs. Patterson does the unthinkable, it is up to Budo and a team of imaginary friends to save Max—and Budo must ultimately decide which is more important: Max’s happiness or his own existence.

Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend is a triumph of courage and imagination that touches on the truths of life, love, and friendship as it races to a heartwarming...and heartbreaking conclusion. (From the publisher.)

Read an excerpt.
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Author Bio
Raised—Blackstone, Massachusetts, USA
Education—Manchester Community College;
  Trinity College; St. Joseph's College
Currently—lives in Newington, Connecticut

Matthew Dicks is the author of the novels Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, Something Missing and Unexpectedly, Milo and the rock opera The Clowns. When he is not hunched over a computer screen, he fills his days as an elementary school teacher, a wedding DJ, a storyteller and a life coach. He is a former West Hartford Teacher of the Year and a three-time Moth StorySLAM champion.

Matthew is married to friend and fellow teacher, Elysha, and they have a daughter named Clara and a son named Charlie. Matthew grew up in the small town of Blackstone, Massachusetts, where he made a name for himself by dying twice before the age of eighteen and becoming the first student in his high school to be suspended for inciting riot upon himself.

In his words
My name is Matthew Dicks. I am an author, a storyteller and a teacher.

In the spring of 2008, under the guidance of my agent, Taryn Fagerness, I sold my first novel, Something Missing, to Broadway Books, an imprint of Doubleday, and thus made one of my childhood dreams come true. Something Missing was published in August of 2009 and has since been translated into six different languages.

My career as an author was born.

One year later, in the fall of 2010, I published my second novel, Unexpectedly, Milo. It has been translated into three languages.

My third novel, Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend, published in the United States in August of 2012 with St. Martin’s Press. It has been translated into 17 languages worldwide.

At the request of my UK publisher, I am published under the name Matthew Green in the UK and its affiliated markets. Green is my wife’s maiden name.

In addition to novels, I’ve also written a rock opera, The Clowns, and am working on a memoir and several children’s books. In addition to fiction, I write poetry, essays and a daily blog. I have published pieces in newspapers, poetry journals, online news sites and educational journals throughout the United States.

In addition to writing, I am also a storyteller. I tell stories for The Moth on a regular basis and am a three-time Moth Story Slam champion. I also tell stories for a variety of storytelling organizations including The Story Collider and Literary Death Match. My wife and I also host out own storytelling series in Connecticut called Speak Up!  In addition to storytelling, I also occasionally work as a public speaker, addressing issues related to publishing, writing, education, productivity and more.

I grew up in the small town of Blackstone, Massachusetts with two siblings, two lost-but-recently-found step-siblings, a loving mother, and an evil step-father. I was a Boy Scout, a pole-vaulter, a flutist and bassoonist, and a proud member of my school’s drum corps. I also have the distinction of having died twice by the age of eighteen before being revived by paramedics both times.

Sorry. No white light.

I left home at eighteen and worked in a variety of dead-end jobs for the next five years until I was robbed at gunpoint at the age of twenty-three. This brush with death finally convinced me to get off my ass and make something of my life.

Six months later, I was sitting in my first college classroom (a class ironically called On Death and Dying), hoping to one day become a teacher and an author. I would often tell friends and family that my goal was to one day write for a living and teaching for pleasure. While I have not yet realized this goal, I am closer than I would have ever imagined.

I worked my way through college, managing McDonald’s restaurants, opening a small business, and working on campus as a writing tutor. I graduated from Manchester Community College with a liberal arts degree in 1996 and Trinity College with an English degree and Saint Joseph’s College with a teaching degree in 1999.

Following graduation, I went to work as an elementary school teacher and have been teaching ever since. I currently teach fifth grade but have taught second and third grade as well. In 2005 I was named West Hartford’s Teacher of the Year and was a finalist for Connecticut’s Teacher of the Year.

• In addition to my teaching career, I also own and operate a DJ company that performs weddings throughout Connecticut. I also serve as an occasional, albeit fairly heathen, minister and a life coach.

• In 2006 I married my wife and colleague, Elysha, after proposing to her in front of friends and family on the main landing of Grand Central Station in New York. We live in Newington, CT with our daughter, Clara, our son, Charlie, our Lhasa Apso, Kaleigh, and our enormous, slightly insane house cat named Owen.

• When not teaching, writing or playing with my children, I spend my free time listening to music, eating poorly and dodging phone calls.

•  I’m an avid, albeit awful, golfer and a much better basketball and poker player. I am an enormous fan of the New England Patriots and a season ticket holder and an equally rabid fan of the Yankees, Celtics and Bruins.

• I would play more football if my fragile friends were more willing.

• I also read a great deal, consume an enormous number of audio books, and listen to about three dozen podcasts on a daily and weekly basis.

• I also run a occasionally-annual race throughout Connecticut modeled after CBS’s The Amazing Race called The A-Mattzing Race, and this keeps me busy planning and coordinating the next event. (From the author's website.)

Book Reviews
[A] fun read and engaging exploration of the vibrant world of a child's imagination.
Publishers Weekly

Funny, poignant.... Budo's world is as realistic as he is imaginary. We would all be lucky to have Budo at our sides. Reading his memoir is the next best thing.
Library Journal

An incredibly captivating novel about the wonder of youth and the importance of friendship, whether real or imagined. Delightfully compelling reading.

Quirky and heartwarming
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
1. “I am not imaginary,” says Budo. Do you believe him?

2. Might you relate differently to Max if the story was told from another character’s point of view? How does Budo’s voice shape your understanding of Max?

3. Max’s mother wants desperately to understand what is wrong with Max, while his father wants desperately to believe that there is nothing wrong. Who do you side with?

4. Budo seems to watch a lot of television. How do his viewing habits shape his perception of the world?

5. Budo straddles many worlds: child and adult; real and imaginary. Could the same be said for other characters in this book?

6. Mrs. Patterson did a terrible thing. But is there any way in which her actions may have been beneficial to Max?

7. What does Budo fear most? Why does he think that Max’s mom and dad are his biggest danger?

8. The author, Matthew Dicks, is an elementary school teacher. In what ways can you see the influence of this “day job” on his writing?
(Questions issued by publisher.)

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