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Robert Mailer Anderson's Biography

Member Info

San Francisco
Married to Nicola Miner
Dec 2007

Robert Mailer Anderson was born in San Francisco in 1968, three years before his parents were divorced. He was the fifth generation of his family - a clan comprised largely of railroad workers, San Quentin prison guards, and tamale vendors - to be raised across the Golden Gate Bridge in San Rafael. He spent every other weekend and summers with his father in Mendocino County, reading, playing sports, and accompanying his father to his business, a home for juvenile delinquents, where young Anderson encountered some "hard cases" who were later convicted of, among other crimes, armed robbery, rape, and murder. One former resident, David Mason, was executed by the state. Several others are on death row.
At age fourteen, Anderson moved in with his father "full time" and, due to financial constraints, the group home. He started high school in Ukiah, where he was routinely kicked out of classes. He took a year off from school and played golf. He developed a gambling habit. He began contributing articles to the Anderson Valley Advertiser, where his uncle, Bruce Anderson, was editor and publisher. Eventually, he graduated from Anderson Valley High School in Boonville. He played three varsity sports and was MVP of the NCL III in baseball. He was student body president until he was impeached.

Pursuing a career in baseball, Anderson matriculated to the University of Miami, where he did not play. He was then transferred to the College of Marin, where he pitched and played first base for a semester and a half before packing his possessions into the trunk of a "borrowed" Cadillac, cashing his student loan check, and heading to Mexico.

When the money ran out, he moved to New York City, where he had a series of unfulfilling jobs: selling suits, telemarketing, moving furniture, and temping. He did stand-up comedy, once. He played basketball at West Fourth Street. He was accepted into a creative writing tutorial taught by Shelby Hearon at the Ninety-second Street Y.

In 1995, Anderson's short story "36-28-34-7" was published by Christopher Street. He began referring to himself as "the heterosexual voice of gay lit."

His first novel "Boonville," was highly-acclaimed by critics and writers, including Norman Mailer, Carl Hiaasen, Jonathan Lethem, William Gibson, Naomi Wolf, Martin Cruz Smith, and Jonathan Yardley. It was the #1 fiction book in Northern California for six months, made best-seller lists, including the Washington Post's, and was hailed by the San Francisco Chronicle as one of "the top ten literary events of 2001." 

Since then he has published in San Francisco Magazine, The San Francisco Chronicle, Encore, The San Francisco Examiner, and The Anderson Valley Advertiser, where he also serves as part-time "fiction editor."

His short story, "Briley Boy," was included in the anthology San Francisco Noir. He was named a San Francisco Library Laureate in 2003 and 2009.

In 2005, Anderson sold his co-written screenplay, "Windows on the World," to Miramax. In 2004 he sold a television series, "Boonville," to the FX channel. Neither were made. He was Associate Producer for the documentary "The Fall of Fujimori," which the New York Times called, "Excellent!" "Fujimori" was a 2006 Writer's Guild of America nominee for "best documentary screenplay," won "the grand jury prize" at the Independent Film Festival of Boston, and was a selection at over two dozen film festivals, including its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

In 2008 he co-wrote, produced, and appeared in PIG HUNT, a punkabilly horror film set in Northern California. As well as playing many festivals, PIG HUNT won the Gold Remi Award in the action/adventure category at 2009 Worldfest - the Houston International Film Festival, the Bronze audience award at 2008 Fantasia for Best European, North or South American Film. Variety magazine wrote, "Enjoyably offbeat...unpredictably mixing disparate pacing, tones, humor and brute action. Fans tired of rote remakes and ripoffs will appreciate the
pics idiocyncracy. The action is no-holds-barred muscular." Eye for Film called it "The finest horror film to have been made this year!" 

Anderson also penned the play, "The Death of Teddy Ballgame," read at the Magic Theater. In addition, he was an Executive Producer for Tom Waits' "The Black Rider" which was the largest financial success in A.C.T.'s forty-year history.

Among his other artistic endeavors, Anderson was co-owner of Quotidian art gallery, which SF Gate tagged as "the always envelope-pushing Quotidian." In that spirit, he designed an anti-Iraq War poster campaign in June 2004, juxtaposing an Abu Graib prisoner, the American Flag, and the slogan "Got Democracy?" The poster is now part of the collection at the Center for the Study of Political Graphics in Los Angeles. Anderson was also a board member of the San Francisco Opera Association for five years, and currently is a board member of SFJAZZ.

Anderson lives in San Francisco with his wife, four children, Dashiell, Lucinda, Frances, and Callum, plus his fosterchild Stephen.

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