Ben Greenman

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Greenman at the 2010 Brooklyn Book Festival.

Ben Greenman (born September 28, 1969) is a novelist and magazine journalist who has written more than twenty fiction and non-fiction books, including collaborations with pop-music artists like Questlove, George Clinton, Brian Wilson, Gene Simmons, and others. From 2000 to 2014, he was an editor at The New Yorker.


In 2001 McSweeneys published Greenman's debut, Superbad, a collection of humor pieces and serious short fiction that included several satirical musicals. It has the same title as, but not the same contents as, the popular teen comedy; Greenman engaged in a fake feud with Seth Rogen over the title. The book's cover art was a painting by the artist Mark Tansey.[1] Greenman's next book, Superworse, the Novel: A Remix of Superbad, was published in 2004 by Soft Skull, an independent Brooklyn publisher. It refashioned the book into a novel that was overseen and edited by a man named Laurence Once. Kirkus called it "something extraordinary."[2]

In 2007, Macadam/Cage published Greenman's second collection of stories. It was selected by Barnes and Noble for its Discover Great Writers series, and included both comic work and more serious stories like "In the Air Room," which fictionalized the famous controversy over James McNeill Whistler and the Peacock Room.[3] Elizabeth Gold, writing on SFGate, said that "the best of the stories in this collection are more than funny."[4]


In 2008, Hotel St. George press released a handmade and letterpress-printed edition of Greenman's book Correspondences that included an intricate book casing that unfolded to reveal three accordion books and a postcard. The project was reviewed favorably by the Los Angeles Times[5] and Time Out.[6]

In 2009, Melville House published Greenman's second novel, which was a fictionalized biography of a funk-rock star based loosely on Sly Stone, Marvin Gaye, Curtis Mayfield, and others. The funk-rock star Swamp Dogg recorded a theme song for the book.[7] Later in 2009, Greenman signed with Harper Collins: the first book announced was What He's Poised To Do, an expanded paperback based on the material from Correspondences. The book was praised by Steve Almond in the Los Angeles Times.[8]

In 2010, Greenman adapted the short stories of the Russian master Anton Chekhov, updating them by replacing their characters with modern celebrities. Pop Matters, praising the collection, said "the very, very best of these stories make us weep."[9]

Greenman's novel, The Slippage, was published by Harper Perennial in 2013. The book included a character who was a chart artist and whose work consisted of meta-charts; Greenman created a number of them and posted them at and McSweeneys, among other places. The New York Times praised the novel as "fluid and commanding."[10]

In the summer of 2016, Little A published Emotional Rescue, a collection of essays about pop music and relationships.[11][self-published source?]


Greenman has also collaborated on celebrity memoirs. His most frequent collaborator has been Questlove; he co-wrote the hip-hop memoir Mo Meta Blues, a food-themed book called Something to Food About, a book about creativity and innovation called Creative Quest, and a conceptual cookbook called Mixtape Potluck.[12] In addition, he wrote memoirs with the funk musician George Clinton[13] and Brian Wilson, co-founder of the Beach Boys, as well as with the actress Mariel Hemingway,[14] Gene Simmons of KISS,[15] and Simon Cowell of American Idol. The Questlove and Wilson books were best-sellers.[16][17]

Other work[edit]

Greenman's journalism and short fiction have appeared in many magazines and newspapers, including The New Yorker,[18] where he worked as an editor from 2000 to 2014, the Paris Review,[19] Zoetrope: All-Story.[20] He has also moderated many events, including Literary Death Match, Literary Upstart, and the National Book Foundation's 5 Under 35 Ceremony.[21]

Personal life[edit]

Greenman is married to art director Gail Ghezzi and has two children: Daniel and Jakob (6'2"), both of whom were born when the couple lived in Brooklyn. The family currently lives in Ridgewood, New Jersey.



  • Greenman, Ben (2004). Superworse : the novel : a remix of Superbad : stories and pieces. Brooklyn, NY: Soft Skull Press.
  • — (2009). Please Step Back. Brooklyn, NY: Melville House.
  • — (2013). The Slippage : a novel. New York: Harper Perennial.
  • — (2017). Don Quixotic: a fiction. New York: AntiBookClub.

Short fiction[edit]

  • Greenman, Ben (2001). Superbad : stories and pieces. Brooklyn, NY: McSweeney's Books.
  • — (2007). A circle is a balloon and compass both : stories about human love. San Francisco: MacAdam Cage.
  • — (2008). Correspondences. Brooklyn, NY: Hotel St. George Press.[22]
  • — (2010). Celebrity Chekhov : stories by Anton Chekhov. Translated by Constance Garnett; adapted and celebritized by Ben Greenman. New York: Harper Perennial.
  • — (2010). What he's poised to do : stories. New York: Harper Perennial.


  • Greenman, Ben (2016). Emotional rescue : essays on love, loss, and life – with a soundtrack. Little A.
  • — (2017). Dig if you will the picture : funk, sex, God and genius in the music of Prince. New York: Henry Holt.

As collaborator[edit]

  • Simmons, Gene (2001). KISS and make-up. New York: Crown.
  • Cowell, Simon (2003). I don't mean to be rude, but ... : backstage gossip from American Idol & the secrets that can make you a star. New York: Broadway Books.
  • Mo' Meta Blues (with Questlove) (2013)
  • Brothas Be "Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kind of Hard On You" (with George Clinton) (2014)
  • Out Came the Sun (with Mariel Hemingway) (2015)
  • Something To Food About (with Questlove) (2016)
  • I Am Brian Wilson (with Brian Wilson) (2016)
  • Creative Quest (with Questlove) (2018)
  • Mixtape Potluck (with Questlove) (2019)
  • Unrequited Infatuations (with Steven Van Zandt) (2021)
  • Music Is History (with Questlove) (2021)


  • Lost Objects: 50 Stories About the Things We Miss and Why They Matter (2022)
  • Silent Beaches, Untold Stories (2016)
  • Flashed: Sudden Stories in Comics and Prose (2016)
  • When I First Held You (2014)
  • A Brief History of Authoterrorism (2013)
  • Unscrolled (2013)
  • Cape Cod Noir (2012)
  • Significant Objects: The Book (2012)
  • Forty Stories (2012)
  • The McSweeneys Book of Politics and Musicals (2012)
  • I Love Charts! The Book (2012)
  • Blue Christmas (2011)
  • Cassette From My Ex (2009)
  • Rock and Roll Cage Match (2008)
  • Stumbling and Raging: More Politically Inspired (2006)
  • Created in Darkness by Troubled Americans (2005)
  • The Encyclopedia of Exes: 26 Stories by Men of Love Gone Wrong (2005)
  • May Contain Nuts (2005)
  • Future Dictionary of America (2004)
  • Politically Inspired (2003)
  • 101 Damnations (2002)
  • More Mirth of a Nation (2002)
  • Mirth of a Nation (2000)

Essays and reporting[edit]


  1. ^ "Superbad". Archived from the original on 2017-09-28. Retrieved 2019-10-13.
  2. ^ "Superworse". 20 May 2004.
  3. ^ Carroll, Tobias (8 September 2010). "The Rumpus Interview with Ben Greenman".
  4. ^ Gold, Elizabeth (8 April 2007). "Romance-Free Love Stories for Our Seriously Weird Era".
  5. ^ Kellogg, Carolyn (7 December 2008). "'Correspondences' by Ben Greenman". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 10 December 2008. Retrieved 2014-11-25.
  6. ^ Sobieski, Sonya (3 December 2008). "Correspondences". Time Out. Retrieved 2014-11-25.
  7. ^ "Please Step Back, by Ben Greenman and Swamp Dogg". 15 April 2009. Archived from the original on 20 December 2016. Retrieved 10 December 2016.
  8. ^ Almond, Steve (20 June 2010). "'What He's Poised to Do,' by Ben Greenman - LATimes". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 6 August 2011.
  9. ^ Karnes, Jamie (13 October 2010). "Celebrity Chekhov is as Much A Tribute As it is an Invention".
  10. ^ Walsh, S. Kirk (7 June 2013). "'The Slippage' by Ben Greenman". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 23 December 2016.
  11. ^ "Emotional Rescue". 1 August 2016.
  12. ^ "Something To Food About". 12 April 2016.
  13. ^ Weingarten, Marc (31 October 2014). "George Clinton's Funk Chronicle".
  14. ^ MacVean, Mary (27 April 2015). "Mariel Hemingway Shares Family's Troubled History In Two New Memoirs".
  15. ^ "KISS FAQ: Books about KISS".
  16. ^ "Mo Meta Blues".
  17. ^ "New York Times Celebrity Bestsellers".
  18. ^ "New Yorker—Ben Greenman Archive".
  19. ^ "No Friend Of Mine".
  20. ^ "In the Air Room".
  21. ^ "11th Annual 5 Under 35 Ceremony".
  22. ^ Limited edition - see for description
  23. ^ Tom Lehrer.
  24. ^ James Hunter.

External links[edit]