By Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer Published Sep 21, 2006 at 5:34 AM
Mike Magnuson is a novelist and writer who teaches creative writing at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale. He’s a Wisconsin guy; a Milwaukee-area guy even.

His novels, like “The Right Man for The Job” and “The Fire Gospels” are great. His book “Lummox” a laugh-out-loud riot.His “Heft on Wheels,” a memoir of how he got himself in shape and became an ace cyclocross racer is inspiring and endearing. He’s also penned articles for GQ, Men’s Health, Esquire and other publications.

So, when we thought it was time to break into the world of fiction, we thought immediately of Mag. He’s got a great sense of humor, he’s self-effacing and he loves Milwaukee. Basically, he’s the right man for the job.

According to Mag:

“I’ve been wanting to write something this for quite some time, since 1999, actually, when I returned to live in Menomonee Falls after having lived elsewhere since I graduated in high school in 1981.

“I had a lull in my career, I guess, and decided maybe I could find myself, or rediscover myself, in the Falls.  As it turned out, I stayed for a year and became so incredibly depressed and pathetically suicidal that, wow, I just about didn’t live through it.

“Now, Menomonee Falls itself is not responsible for my unhappiness in 1999.  Likely, what happened is during my travels hither and yon in the country I changed into someone whose ideas and lifestyle and so on didn’t coincide with life and ideas in the Falls.  For instance, I’m a lifelong Democrat who comes from a family of lifelong Democrats, and Menomonee Falls is so Republican that on some summer afternoons, if you stare at the sidewalks long enough, they will glow red.  I’m not kidding.  Oh well.

“If I could put myself in a time machine and travel back to 1999, I would instead move to Milwaukee’s East Side, somewhere near Brady Street, and, hell, I’d probably still be living there to this day!   Anyway, probably the only reason I didn’t kill myself in 1999 was I wrote down a list of writing projects I wanted to get around to before I died.

“One of these projects was called “The Falls,” and I envisioned it as a sequence of flashes into man’s mind while he is emotionally falling apart in a conservative suburb.  So when contacted me about maybe writing some fiction for them, I knew right away that it was time to bring “The Falls” to life.

“Does this mean I’m ready to die now?  Nah.  I’ve got a bunch more projects on my list.”

A serialized tale, “The Falls” will run in installments on beginning next week.
Bobby Tanzilo Senior Editor/Writer

Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., where he lived until he was 17, Bobby received his BA-Mass Communications from UWM in 1989 and has lived in Walker's Point, Bay View, Enderis Park, South Milwaukee and on the East Side.

He has published three non-fiction books in Italy – including one about an event in Milwaukee history, which was published in the U.S. in autumn 2010. Four more books, all about Milwaukee, have been published by The History Press.

With his most recent band, The Yell Leaders, Bobby released four LPs and had a songs featured in episodes of TV's "Party of Five" and "Dawson's Creek," and films in Japan, South America and the U.S. The Yell Leaders were named the best unsigned band in their region by VH-1 as part of its Rock Across America 1998 Tour. Most recently, the band contributed tracks to a UK vinyl/CD tribute to the Redskins and collaborated on a track with Italian novelist Enrico Remmert.

He's produced three installments of the "OMCD" series of local music compilations for and in 2007 produced a CD of Italian music and poetry.

In 2005, he was awarded the City of Asti's (Italy) Journalism Prize for his work focusing on that area. He has also won awards from the Milwaukee Press Club.

He has be heard on 88Nine Radio Milwaukee talking about his "Urban Spelunking" series of stories, in that station's most popular podcast.