Books

Miami Book Fair: Novelist Ben Greenman

Ben Greenman was a 20-year-old rookie scribe

fresh out of Yale when he was hired to write for the Miami New Times in 1990. The Palmettto Senior High alum joined a rabble

rousing crew of writers who included Greg Baker, Jim Defede, Sean Rowe and

Steve Almond. They were the ones who laid the foundation for the alt weekly's

muck-racking ways.

"It was the wild, wild west in those days,"

Greenman notes. "The paper gave us a lot of license to do creative

work."

And

Greenman certainly created some pretty freaking hilarious yarns for New Times like "Cracking Up,"

which chronicled an experiment in which he followed  the late mad scientist John Detrick around

downtown Miami on a very hot summer day to see if eggs

really would fry on sidewalks. 


In 1991, when violent criminals were targeting

lost tourists in their rental cars, Greenman concocted the "New Times

Rental Car Conversion Kit, a handy package of mail-order accessories tourists

could use to give their rented vehicles a local look. "To be a journalist

in Miami at the time you always knew something crazy would come up," he

says. "The paper was fun in a very intense way."


Greenman

has gone on to edit the extensive calendar section of the New Yorker magazine and in his free time he writes quirky, clever

fiction tales that appear in the journal McSweeney's.


And like Defede, Rowe and Almond, Greenman is an accomplished book author. His

latest literary work, Please Step Back

(Melville, $16.95), is a novel that chornicles the life of Rock Foxx, a ficitional

musician who makes the transition from soul to rock during the heady Sixties.


Catch

Greenman at this year's Miami Book Fair when he joins fellow novelists Jonathan

Lethem and Michael Thomas in Pavillion A at 3:30 p.m. on Sunday, November 15.


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Francisco Alvarado was born in Nicaragua and grew up in Miami, giving him unique insight into the Magic City and all its dark corners. An investigative reporter with a knack for uncovering corruption, Alvarado made his bones as a staff writer at Miami New Times and remains in dogged pursuit of the next juicy story.