I was born in in New York City in 1941, to a mother, Mary Randolph Grace, a Bryn Mawr classics major from a fancy WASP family, and a father whose parents refused to marry because they were radicals and believed that marriage was a form of State oppression. His name was Robert Owen Menaker and his six brothers also bore utopian names--William Morris Menaker, Frederick Engels Menaker, Nicholas Chernechevsky Menaker, and so on. I attended the Little Red Schoolhouse in Greenwich Village, Nyack High School, Swarthmore College, and the Johns Hopkins University, where I earned a Master's Degree in English Literature. I taught high-school English for two years and went on to work as a fact checker, copy editor, and editor for The New Yorker Magazine. After twenty-six years at The New Yorker, I became an editor at Random House and eventually was named Editor-in-Chief. I've worked with David Foster Wallace, Salman Rushdie, Nassim Taleb, Curtis Sittenfeld, Michael Chabon, Michael Cunningham, Janet Malcolm, Elmore Leonard, Jonathan Kellerman, Elizabeth Strout, Colum McCann, Jennifer Egan, Daniel Silva, Billy Collins, George Saunders, and many, many others.
I married author and New York Times editor Katherine Bouton in 1980, and we have two children, a boy (now a young man) named William Michael Grace Menaker, the "Michael Grace" being my late brother's name--he died when he was twenty-nine and I was twenty-six--and a girl (now a young woman), Elizabeth Grace Menaker. Will is book publishing and Elizabeth is a social worker.
I have written six books, two of them New york Times Notable titles and one of them the basis of a movie called "The Treatment," with Ian Holm and Famke Janssen. I've also written humor and articles, reviews, and essays for many, many publications, including, most prominently, The New Yorker. One of my humor pieces, "The Worst" was blessed with a fan letter from Groucho Marx. I've served on the Board of the Poetry Foundation, conducted a six-episode online author-interview program, titlepage.tv, in other venues (PEN Symphony Space, the Brooklyn Academy of Music) have interviewed dozens of writers, am a professor in the MFA program at Stony Brook University, have taught a humor-writing course at Columbia, and have traveled to Nepal and the country of Georgia on cultural missions for the United States State Department.
I can sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" one note behind the melody. My family has a dog named Maxwell, named after my teacher at Tne New Yorker, William Maxwell. I captained Swarthmore's soccer team to a 2-10 record my senior year. I have shaken hands with Muhammad Ali, who gave me an autograph to give to my son.
For more than five years I have fought lung cancer, for the time being successfully, And you had better knock wood for me right now, unless you are in the Tea Party and don't care for the cut of my political jib. My blog, seriously outdated right now and consisting in the last few years of a series of conversations about medical treatment, can be found at danielmenaker.com.
My new book, a memoir called "My Mistake," will be published by Houghton Mifflin in November of 2013.
If you've gotten this far, thank you for your patience, however inexplicable.