Daniel Menaker

34th annual Key West Literary Seminar

SHORTS: Stories, Essays, & Other Briefs
January 7–10, 2016

Daniel Menaker began his career in 1969 as a fact checker at the New Yorker, where he eventually served as fiction editor for twenty years. Early on at the New Yorker, he apprenticed under the fiction writer and editor William Maxwell, who published Menaker’s first story in the magazine, “Grief,” which centered on the death of his brother. “Writing it felt like releasing pressure from an emotional aneurysm that was about to rupture,” Menaker says of the story in his memoir My Mistake. “It gave me a small measure of peace.”

During his time as fiction editor at the New Yorker, Menaker championed works by short-story writers George Saunders, Antonya Nelson, and Alice Munro, who he has described as the “the literary love of my life.”

“What a good editor does,” Menaker says in a 2014 Paris Review interview, “is make your text the way you really would have wanted it to be if you had been doing it on your most disciplined, best day. It’s like Michelangelo looking at a piece of marble. There’s a shape inside it. And one of the ways to get that shape out in a text is to have editors who try to put themselves in your shoes and figure out what you’re trying to do, where you may have succeeded—and where you may not have.”

Formerly Editor-in-Chief of Random House, Menaker has authored six books, including the short-story collections Friends and Relations and The Old Left and Other Stories. Two of his books were New York Times notable titles. Menaker has won two O. Henry Awards for short fiction, and his novel, The Treatment, was made into a film of the same name. He has written humor, essays, reviews, and features for the New Yorker, the New York Times Magazine, Harper’s, the Atlantic, and many other journals and newspapers. He is married to the writer Katherine Bouton.

Selected Bibliography

My Mistake (2013)
A Good Talk: The Story and Skill of Conversation (2011)
The Treatment (1998)
The Old Left and Other Stories (1987)
The Worst (1979)
Friends and Relations (1976)

Online Resources

Daniel Menaker’s website
Menaker interviewed in the Paris Review Daily
Menaker with Lisa Dickler Awano on Alice Munro in VQR

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