One of the more prolific of modern-day American writers is The New Yorker's Ben Greenman, whose latest novel, The Slippage, came out in May via Harper Perennial to positive reviews from The New York Times, The Chicago Tribune, and others. Next up, out today from Grand Central Publishing, is Questlove's memoir, Mo' Meta Blues: The World According to Questlove, which Greenman co-wrote. But Greenman isn't just prolific. He's also a provocateur.
Greenman is a writer who pokes, prods, and sets readers off balance in hopes of generating emotion and thought — and maybe, sometimes, simply because he feels like it. In the creation of work, he's not afraid to break the rules, to go outside of the lines, to create new dialogues and make people, including himself, uncomfortable. This is a man who has purposely inserted typos in his books. And though he admits that with the Internet he tries to read "zero reviews," he's not afraid of reader reactions that may be less than positive.
Now 43, Greenman has been at The New Yorker since 2000. He cut his teeth at the Miami New Times and, in high school, at the Miami Herald, where he was offered a job after winning every category at the paper's annual parody contest. Since then, he's authored books including Superbad; Superworse; A Circle is a Balloon and a Compass Both: Stories about Human Love; Correspondences; Please Step Back; Celebrity Chekhov; and What He's Poised to Do. He's ghostwritten for Gene Simmons, Simon Cowell, and, most recently, Questlove. And he's produced nearly uncountable shorter works, from an etiquette column in Brooklyn magazine to humor pieces in McSweeney's to compositions for Gawker (circa 2007) and an array of charts and graphs that frequently carry more meaning than they do words. As he explains on his I <3 Charts Tumblr, "My interest in charts springs primarily from my disinterest in charts," which is pretty representative of the way he tackles story-telling in all its shapes and sizes.