A tiny autobiography
I grew up in Potomac, Maryland, which is characterized by having many big movie theaters you can drive to but none you can walk to. My parents are statisticians and can be read about here and here. My sister is a veterinarian in West Palm Beach; if you happen to have a sick horse in South Florida I highly recommend her! While I lived in Potomac I spent a lot of time working math problems, writing small ironic stories, and listening to rock music made by depressed people.
After a while I went to Harvard, where I continued all three activities. The math problems became somewhat harder. I graduated from college in 1993, and then spent a year studying fiction writing at Johns Hopkins. I found that I missed working math problems, so I went back to Harvard and got a Ph.D. While there, I met Tanya Schlam, who has a home page. After some years in New Jersey we now live with our two kids in Madison, where I'm a math professor at the University of Wisconsin. There are many things you can walk to here, but not a big movie theater.
The Grasshopper King
A long time ago I wrote a novel called The Grasshopper King, which was published by Coffee House Press in 2003.
I write an occasional column, much more occasional than it used to be, called "Do the Math" for the Slate. You can see my columns here. I also write for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, Wired, and The Believer (about the Riemann hypothesis and mountain climbing .) I also wrote a book called How Not To Be Wrong, which sums up most of what I had to say about everything as of 2014.
Elsewhere on the internet
I blog at Quomodocumque.
I also tweet.
A list of underappreciated Baltimore Orioles.
A list of songs which, at one time, I believed to be the greatest work of popular music ever recorded.
What am I reading?
The "What am I reading?" list moved over to my blog at the beginning of 2011.
Here's what I was reading before that.
22 Dec 2010:Colors Insulting to Nature, by Cintra Wilson.
1 Dec 2010:Fame, by Daniel Kehlmann. (Carol Janeway, trans.)
24 Oct 2010:The Bridge on the Drina, by Ivo Andric. (Lovett Edwards, trans.)
4 Oct 2010:Eating the Dinosaur, by Chuck Klosterman.
28 Sep 2010:Shut Up, I'm Talking: and other diplomacy lessons I learned in the Israeli government, by Gregory Levey.
24 Sep 2010:Stalag Wisconsin: Inside WWII Prisoner-of-War camps, by Betty Cowley.
18 Sep 2010:Tragic Magic, by Wesley Brown.
4 Sep 2010:Under the Dome, by Stephen King.
25 Aug 2010:The Halo Effect: and the eight other business delusions that deceive managers, by Phil Rosenzweig.
11 Aug 2010:My Life As a Fake, by Peter Carey.
9 Aug 2010:The Financial Lives of the Poets, by Jess Walter.
2 Aug 2010: Born Standing Up, by Steve Martin.
29 Jul 2010:Eat the Document, by Dana Spiotta.
25 June 2010:Duel at Dawn: Heroes, Martyrs, and the Rise of Modern Mathematics, by Amir Alexander.
27 May 2010:Then We Came To The End, by Joshua Ferris.
11 May 2010:American Nerd: The Story of My People, by Ben Nugent.
7 May 2010:The Ask, by Sam Lipsyte.
18 Apr 2010:A Gate at the Stairs, by Lorrie Moore.
11 Apr 2010:Perdido Street Station, by China Mieville.
23 Mar 2010:The Last Chronicle of Barset, by Anthony Trollope.
8 Feb 2010:His Illegal Self, by Peter Carey.
20 Jan 2010:Super Flat Times, by Matthew Derby.
16 Jan 2010:In Persuasion Nation, by George Saunders.
31 Dec 2009:Chronic City, by Jonathan Lethem.
22 Dec 2009:Funny Peculiar: Gershon Legman and the Psychopathology of Humor, by Mikita Brottman.
28 Nov 2009:The Will to Whatevs, by Eugene Mirman.
24 Nov 2009:Rads, by Tom Bates.
18 Oct 2009:Brothers, by Yu Hua.
22 Sep 2009:The Stardust Lounge, by Deborah Digges.
15 Sep 2009:The Duplicate, by William Sleator.
12 Sep 2009:Granta 71.
28 Aug 2009:War Trash, by Ha Jin.
24 Aug 2009:The White Mountains, by John Christopher.
17 Aug 2009:Don't Cry, by Mary Gaitskill.
31 Jul 2009:Lives of Girls and Women, by Alice Munro.
16 Jul 2009:The Dwarf, by Pär Lagerkvist (tr. Alexandra Dick).
11 Jul 2009:Transition 101.
10 Jul 2009:Mathematicians, by Mariana Cook.
5 Jul 2009:In the Land of Invented Languages, by Arika Okrent.
2 Jul 2009:End of I., by Stephen Dixon.
25 Jun 2009:The Magicians, by Lev Grossman.
20 Jun 2009:Oscar and Lucinda, by Peter Carey.
25 May 2009:Seventy Times Seven, by John Sanford.
23 May 2009:Drop City, by T. Coraghessan Boyle.
30 Apr 2009:Consider Phlebas, by Iain M. Banks.
26 Apr 2009:No One Belongs Here More Than You, by Miranda July.
22 Apr 2009:The Size of Thoughts, by Nicholson Baker.
18 Apr 2009:Green-Eyed Thieves, by Imraan Coovadia.
10 Apr 2009:Ms. Hempel Chronicles, by Sarah Shun-Lien Bynum.
25 Feb 2009:Glasshouse, by Charles Stross.
20 Feb 2009:The Believer 60.
11 Feb 2009:What is the What? by Dave Eggers.
16 Jan 2009:2666, by Roberto Bolano.
9 Dec 2008:White Teeth, by Zadie Smith.
11 Nov 2008:The Heaven-Sent Leaf, by Katy Lederer.
9 Nov 2008:Demonology, by Rick Moody.
21 Oct 2008:The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Diaz.
7 Sep 2008:Adverbs, by Daniel Handler.
4 Sep 2008:The Outlaw Sea, by William Langewiesche.
2 Sep 2008: Seeing Like a State, by James C. Scott.
1 Aug 2008: Jennifer Government, by Max Barry.
20 Jul 2008: Out of Mao's Shadow, by Philip Pan.
10 Jul 2008: Engine Summer, by John Crowley.
3 Jul 2008: Little, Big, by John Crowley.
24 Jun 2008: The Ruins, by Scott Smith.
15 Jun 2008: The Collected Stories of Richard Yates.
26 May 2008: When Genius Failed, by Roger Lowenstein.
17 May 2008: On The Make, by David Grazian.
1 May 2008: Look to Windward, by Iain M. Banks.
20 Apr 2008: One to Nine, by Andrew Hodges.
24 Mar 2008: Fiasco, by Thomas Ricks.
16 Mar 2008: Bay of Souls, by Robert Stone.
12 Feb 2008: Runaway, by Alice Munro.
1 Feb 2008: n+1, issue 6.
15 Jan 2008: Postville, by Stephen G. Bloom.
30 Dec 2007: Holy Land, by D.J. Waldie.
27 Dec 2007: About Schmidt, by Louis Begley.
10 Dec 2007: The Plot Against America, by Philip Roth.
18 Nov 2007: Imperial Life in the Emerald City, by Rajiv Chandrasekaran.
30 Sep 2007: Doolittle, by Ben Sisario.
28 Sep 2007: Turkish Short Stories, by Aziz Nesin.
25 Sep 2007: How to Pick a Peach, by Russ Parsons.
1 Sep 2007: On Beauty, by Zadie Smith.
31 Jul 2007: My Petition for More Space, by John Hersey.
28 Jul 2007: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, by J.K. Rowling.
21 Jul 2007: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by J.K. Rowling.
10 Jul 2007: The Child Worshipers, by Martha Weinman Lear.
8 Jun 2007: Soon I Will Be Invincible, by Austin Grossman.
29 May 2007: My Holocaust, by Tova Reich.
23 May 2007: Men and Cartoons, by Jonathan Lethem.
2 Apr 2007: The Road, by Cormac McCarthy.
20 Mar 2007: The Green Futures of Tycho, by William Sleator.
15 Mar 2007: Indoctrinaire, by Christopher Priest.
2 Feb 2007: The Silent Woman, by Janet Malcolm.
24 Dec 2006: Material World, by Peter Menzel.
2 Oct 2006: In the Shadow of the Law, by Kermit Roosevelt.
1 Oct 2006: A Sport of Nature, by Nadine Gordimer.
24 Sep 2006: Veronica, by Mary Gaitskill.
18 Sep 2006: Promiscuities, by Naomi Wolf.
7 Sep 2006: Hothouse Kids, by Alissa Quart.
12 Aug 2006: The Last Universe, by William Sleator.
4 Aug 2006: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J.K.Rowling.
31 Jul 2006: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, by J.K.Rowling.
28 Jul 2006: Fray, by Joss Whedon.
13 Jul 2006: Home Land, by Sam Lipsyte.
4 Jul 2006: Rationale of the Dirty Joke, by Gershon Legman.
26 May 2006: Rip It Up And Start Again: Post Punk 1978-1984, by Simon Reynolds.
22 May 2006: Spin, by Robert Charles Wilson.
17 May 2006: The Dark Tower, by Stephen King.
22 Apr 2006: Old Friends, by Stephen Dixon.
19 Apr 2006: Woodrow Wilson and the Politics of Morality, by John Morton Blum.
2 Apr 2006: The Genius Factory: The Curious History of the Nobel Prize Sperm Bank, by David Plotz.
27 Mar 2006: Perfection Salad: Women and Cooking at the Turn of the Century, by Laura Shapiro.
19 Mar 2006: Song of Susannah, by Stephen King.
15 Mar 2006: Please Don't Come Back from the Moon, by Dean Bakopolous.
28 Feb 2006: I Love You More Than You Know, by Jonathan Ames.
23 Feb 2006: Canaan's Tongue, by John Wray.
20 Feb 2006: Waterloo, by Karen Olsson.
17 Feb 2006: Wolves of the Calla, by Stephen King.
10 Feb 2006: Josie and Jack, by Kelly Braffet.
7 Feb 2006: True History of the Kelly Gang, by Peter Carey.
What was I reading in previous years?
Book reviews and articles
While I was in graduate school, I reviewed books and wrote articles for the Boston Book Review and the Boston Phoenix. Both publications are now dead and thus so are the links. I thought I did a really good job with the David Foster Wallace review, and fortunately I kept a pdf of that one. The piece on the 1997 MLA was the very first magazine feature I ever wrote, and I saved that one too.
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