Barr was born in Miami. He learned to speak English by watching
television when he was a very young boy. His first words in that
language were, “Please stand by. We are experiencing transmission
In high school, Barr skipped class to read in the school library.
He sat at a table where he could see the bay and the sailboats.
The librarian knew exactly what he was doing, but never called
him on it. He read everything by Camus and Vonnegut, and wrote
short stories. Two of his stories were published in the school
literary magazine. He also read García Márquez, Borges, and
College and the years that followed were devoted to getting an
education, which left little time for writing, then to learning
practical things, like how to earn a living, which sapped all desire
to do anything else.
After that, Barr went into hiding for two years. He read or re-read
classic literature from Homer to Hemingway. And he wrote his first
novel, an unfinished work filling nine notebooks with tiny handwriting.
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Everything came together
in 2000, when he enrolled in a writing class taught by Leejay Kline.
Since then, he has attended the Seaside, Wesleyan, Kenyon, and Bread
Loaf writers’ conferences, where he studied under John Dufresne,
Christopher Tilghman, and Julia Alvarez. His stories were published
in GulfStream and The Street Miami. In 2005, he won the Bakeless
Prize for Fiction, awarded by Bread Loaf and Middlebury College,
for “The Last Flight of José Luis Balboa,” which
was published in 2006.
Now, even as you read this, he is working on a novel.