I’m a culture journalist: a writer of profiles, features, and unauthorized history. My favorite stories to read and write are those I just can’t shut up about—so please bear with me. The most important work I’ve done, and the most fun I’ve ever had, is my book, Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America’s Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. A slightly tweedy and slightly tawdry cultural history of late twentieth-century literary New York through the lens of one extraordinary publisher, it’s out in paperback this summer from Simon & Schuster, and I hope it’s as exciting to read as it was to work on.
Born in Kishinev, Moldova but quickly removed to ungentrified Brooklyn, N.Y., I graduated from Columbia University with both a Bachelor’s in English and a Master’s in journalism. After putting in my time checking facts and listing events at New York magazine, I became a contributing editor, covering books, theater, and the publishing beat for a culture section reinvented under Adam Moss. At New York, where I write weekly online and regularly in print, I’ve interviewed hundreds of characters, ranging from Mel Brooks to Harvey Fierstein, Jonathan Lethem to Elie Wiesel (and those are just the Jews). I’ve written features on vital subjects (Jonah Lehrer’s fall, a publishing industry in crisis, the glut of highbrow self-help), and profiled defining writers at length: Joan Didion, Toni Morrison, Tom Wolfe, Harper Lee, and Claire Messud. I’ve also played pundit for The New York Times; written on foreign drinking etiquette and wild Central Park for Condé Nast Traveler; reviewed Michael Chabon in a 400-word sentence for GQ; shivered in Lionel Shriver’s London apartment for Elle; and plumbed the connection between my grandfather, clumsy bears, and Russian chocolates for an anthology titled Made in Russia. A New York lifer, I now live with my wife and son in gentrified Brooklyn.