Ben Greenman

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Greenman at the 2010 Brooklyn Book Festival.

Ben Greenman (born September 28, 1969) is a novelist, New York Times-bestselling author and magazine journalist.


Greenman was born in Chicago, Illinois and raised in Miami, Florida. He attended Miami Palmetto High School and then graduated summa cum laude from Yale University, where he served as editor-in-chief of the The Yale Herald. After Yale, he worked as a film critic at the Miami New Times, attended but did not complete a doctoral program in literature at Northwestern University, and then moved to New York City to work as a freelance writer and editor. His journalism has appeared in such magazines as Rolling Stone, Mother Jones, Time Out New York, The Jewish Daily Forward and other publications. In 2000, he joined the staff of The New Yorker magazine. He edited the magazine's "Goings On About Town" section until 2014, when he became a contributing writer.[1]



Superbad / Superworse[edit]

Greenman's first book of fiction, Superbad, was published by McSweeneys Press in 2001. The book is a collection of stories, most humorous, dealing with such issues as creativity, originality, and pop culture while also experimenting with fictional forms. Superworse, published by Soft Skull Press in 2004, reworked some of the material from Superbad while at the same time adding a more novelistic structure to the book, mostly through the editorial interventions of a character named Laurence Onge, an intrusive editor who bears some resemblance to Vladimir Nabokov's Charles Kinbote.

A Circle Is...[edit]

Greenman in 2007

A Circle Is a Balloon and Compass Both: Stories About Human Love, Greenman's third book and second collection of short fiction, was published in the spring of 2007 by MacAdam Cage, a San Francisco-based independent publishing company.



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[2] and Time Out.[3]

Please Step Back[edit]

In spring 2009, Greenman published a novel entitled Please Step Back with Melville House Publishing. The novel, which tells the story of a fictional funk-rock star who shares some characteristics with such real-world celebrities as Sly Stone, Marvin Gaye, and Curtis Mayfield, was praised by Time, New York, The Village Voice, the Miami Herald, Publishers Weekly, and other publications.

For Please Step Back, Greenman also recorded a theme song in collaboration with the funk-rock cult figure Swamp Dogg.

What He's Poised To Do[edit]

In fall 2009 Greenman signed with Harper Collins: the first book will be What He's Poised To Do, an expanded paperback based on the material from Correspondences. In advance of the book's June 2010 publication date, Greenman launched a blog called, which invites readers to compose letters to their favorite fictional characters. The book was named one of the best books of the year by several critics, including Steve Almond.[4]

Celebrity Chekhov[edit]

In October 2010 Harper Perennial published Celebrity Chekhov, a book of short stories in which he replaced Anton Chekhov's characters with contemporary celebrities. Greenman launched the book with an event the Powerhouse arena with the author Neil Strauss.

"The McSweeney's Book of Politics and Musicals"[edit]

In July 2012, Vintage Books published "The McSweeney's Book of Politics and Musicals," a collection of satirical pieces about American politics that included contributions from many writers, the actors Jesse Eisenberg and Ellie Kemper, and others. Greenman's work provided the anchor for the book, with a half-dozen of his celebrity musicals (see Other Projects, below) and a half-dozen paradoxical infographics.

The Slippage[edit]

In May 2013, Harper Perennial published "The Slippage," a novel about a suburban couple facing a crisis in their marriage. The book also incorporated various humorous meta-charts that Greenman created and posted online. Some of those graphs were also posted online at the I Love Charts blog or at McSweeney's. The novel earned positive notices from a number of newspapers and magazines, including The New York Times and The Chicago Tribune.

Emotional Rescue[edit]

In summer 2016, Little A will publish "Emotional Rescue," a collection of essays about music and relationships.


Greenman has collaborated with various entertainment figures on their memoirs, including Gene Simmons of KISS (Kiss and Make-Up) and Simon Cowell of American Idol (I Don't Mean to Be Rude, But...). In 2013, Greenman co-wrote Mo Meta Blues, a hip-hop memoir, with Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson, the drummer of The Roots and the bandleader for The Tonight Show; and in 2014, he co-wrote Brothas Be 'Yo Like George, Ain't That Funkin' Kind of Hard On You, the memoir of funk godfather George Clinton, the founder of P-Funk. He co-wrote the memoir of the actress Mariel Hemingway, Out Came The Sun, in 2015. And in 2016, he and Questlove joined forces again on SomethingToFoodAbout, a collection of conversations with American chefs centering on issues of creativity and innovation. In April 2016, several articles announced that Greenman would be collaborating with Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys on Wilson's autobiography, due in November 2016.

Other projects[edit]

In addition to his books, Greenman has penned a series of musicals that reflect on current-events and pop-culture happenings of the day (one recent example, If I Did It! The Musical, responds to the news that O.J. Simpson planned to publish a book speculating on the murder of his ex-wife Nicole, and others retell the stories of the racehorse Barbaro, the feud between Donald Trump and Rosie O'Donnell, and the troubles surrounding Britney Spears). He has also invented the Conceptual Art Registry (in which he generates hundreds of ideas for conceptual art shows and then licenses them to young artists) and authored a series of epistolary stories that challenge the validity of commentary by the conservative talk-show host Sean Hannity. As a collaborative artist, he has worked with the band One Ring Zero, with the poet Mary Anfinsen, with the singer/songwriter Boyce Day, and others. He is also the inventor of 3*TYPE, a revolutionary three-dimensional typographical process announced in McSweeney's in March 2010.

At the 2007 The New Yorker Festival, Greenman moderated a panel discussion on superheroes in popular culture with Tim Kring, the creator of the NBC series Heroes; the comic-book artist and writer Mike Mignola; the comic-book writer Grant Morrison; and the novelist Jonathan Lethem. He also conducted an onstage interview and performance with the indie rock trio Yo La Tengo. At the 2008 festival he interviewed the horror movie directors Wes Craven and Hideo Nakata.

At the 2007 edition of Litquake, the San Francisco literary festival, Greenman moderated an onstage event, the Literary Death Match, for Opium Magazine; participants included the novelist Wesley Stace and the eventual winner, the author Daniel Handler. He was also the regular judge for the Literary Upstart live-fiction event, a participant in the Significant Objects project run by Rob Walker and Joshua Glenn (he presented a piece at Walker's invitation at the Museum of Modern Art in 2011), a regular contributor to Underwater New York, and more.



  1. ^ "Ben Greenman". The New Yorker. Retrieved 2014-12-09. 
  2. ^ Kellogg, Carolyn (7 December 2008). "'Correspondences' by Ben Greenman". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 10 December 2008. Retrieved 2014-11-25. 
  3. ^ Sobieski, Sonya (3 December 2008). "Correspondences". Time Out. Retrieved 2014-11-25. 
  4. ^ Almond, Steve (20 June 2010). "'What He's Poised to Do,' by Ben Greenman - LATimes". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 6 August 2011. 

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