Unlike most novelists, I had no interest in literature when I was growing up. I read history and science, and foresaw a career in physics or mathematics. But I turned down a shot at MIT and went to Harvard, where I became a Bachelor of philosophy and a Master of nothing. I enjoyed the process of composing my undergraduate thesis (though was indifferent to the thesis of the thesis), and despite my command of logic inferred falsely that writing would be an enjoyable career. Nonetheless, 35 years later I’m still at it.
They say “write what you know”; the landlord soon impresses on you the importance of writing what other people want to know. I learned, and by working for hire I bought myself six years, which I spent laboriously bringing forth my first novel, The Roaches Have No King. It was turned down by American publishers for nine years; by then it had become “one of those brilliant allegorical novels that comes along once in a lifetime and haunts you forever.” It was translated in South America, Asia, and Europe (where it became a best–seller).
During those years, I wrote another novel, Hell On Wheels, and two humorous fact books, 100% American and The Great Divide. I wrote book reviews, created two internet sites, rewrote a biography, and edited several novels. I tutored and consulted. At the Options Exchange in Chicago a software engineer and I invented a tool for identifying real–time trading opportunities. It was way cool.
Once The Roaches Have No King came upon the land, I wrote two more novels, The Swine’s Wedding (along with a screenplay) and Honk If You Love Aphrodite. The four novels are completely different from one another. I lived with each for so long that it was as if I was trapped in a one–room cabin in a blizzard with someone who disagreed with everything I said and pouted about it. My agent’s reaction to the last one was, “I could kill you for this.” Which I understood; but I needed to do something new. Why else write?
Then I tried something truly new: reality. I wrote the memoirs of a number of obscure but fascinating people. They say there are more things in heaven and (especially) on earth than are dreamt of in anyone’s philosophy. And for once they are right.
My latest book is a product of gratitude. The Magic of Middle-Aged Women: Romance, Sex, Deviance—Freedom began ten years ago when my friends were having a new brand of difficulty in their love lives. These women were in many ways cooler and hotter than ever; why weren’t men seeing it? I widened my sample to scores of women. Problems there certainly are for women at this time of life; but I came across some deeply satisfying solutions—including alternate lifestyles and erotic enterprise I had never imagined.
Biologically speaking, middle age is a wasteland. Women (and reasonable men) are done breeding, but not ready for burying. Yet, especially for women, this is a great time of life. The satisfaction of launching a family is sweetened by time, money, and energy they can now spend on themselves. They may want male company, but they no longer need a mate.
Middle-aged men will find no better companions than these self-reliant, contented, and, not coincidentally, sexually adventurous women. But, handicapped by eyes that focus only on youth, many men cannot see them.
What is to be done? This book is based on extensive accounts of more than twenty women who reentered the world of romance and sex in midlife. Many expressed frustration and disillusionment. But there is also much triumph. This time around, some know how to choose men more wisely. Some prefer a smaller male footprint in their lives. Others make revolutionary changes in lifestyles, including dominance and submission, sadomasochism, and polyamory-all graphically recounted. By casting off decades of sexual propriety, they feel that they have at last become who they really are.
During nine years of research, the author, challenged and inspired by the women whose lives he was following, underwent his own intimate revolution. It was a rare literary premium.
A colony of roaches lives in harmony with the human couple who share their apartment; when the tempestuous woman hurls meals against the wall, there is food for all. But one day she disappears. Her compulsively tidy successor has the kitchen redone; cracks and holes are sealed, and all food is stored in impenetrable containers. The colony is threatened with starvation. Numbers (his name derives from the Bible, where he grew up) leads his peers in an intricate yet costly campaign to try to drive her out and save themselves.
“One of those brilliant allegorical novels that comes along once in a lifetime and haunts you forever.” Bizarre
“Shades of Kafka, Swift, and Don Marquis. Daniel Evan Weiss has written an appealing, often mordant satire about the urban condition.... Have I neglected to mention that Daniel Evan Weiss’s unusual novel is also dark and erotic in addition to being clever and charming... If you’re a roach, this book is positively steamy!” The New York Times Book Review
“Even funnier than Kafka’s Metamorphosis, and manages to touch just as many social and metaphysical bases... an uncannily sharp analysis of modern manners and neuroses.” The Times (London)
“Until now no author had ever beaten Kafka at his own metaphysical game.... The Roaches Have No King isn’t just amazingly funny, it’s the sickest, most imaginative and complex novel since Patrick Suskind’s Perfume.... An implausible, hilarious, and beautifully written tale.” Vox
“The Roaches Have No King is the genuine, endangered article: shocking, inventive, sometimes downright repulsive and very smart. Funny, in short. I loved it. I laughed out loud on the first page.” The Sunday Oregonian
“Daniel Evan Weiss’ fast–paced, richly inventive, floor–level fable of a cockroach’s quest for a promised land of slovenliness, The Roaches Have No King warns us of the even greater dangers attendant upon eating what you read.” Bloomsbury Review
“The human characters Numbers [the roach] manipulates are ... wittily observed upon in this sly, enchanting novel. The prose sparkles with energy throughout, as the narrative scuttles between high philosophy and low comedy.” The Insider
“Moby Dick for the millennial mindset.” Wired
“It takes a writer with great skill and a lot of humor to make cockroaches appealing protagonists, and Weiss has both.” Los Angeles Reader
“Villainously crude and delightful.” Mail on Sunday
A young man, nominally Jewish, and his Episcopalian girlfriend plan to marry. The groom’s mother, who is excluded from the planning of the church wedding—which she is paying for—decides to research the family tree to present to the couple. But she comes upon and slowly unravels the family’s five hundred year flight, from country to country, under threat of torture and murder by the Church. She tries to impress upon her son the significance of his faith—which she has never taught him. She must also face the bride’s mother, an uncompromising and condescending church official. But what happened in the terrible fire that ultimately undoes the wedding?
“Weiss is surely the Evel Knievel of novelists… The Swine’s Wedding is a funny, daring, and ultimately searing book that is both a pleasure to read and too painful to forget.” Newsday
“Weiss’s novel deals with serious ideas, but it does so in a way which is almost surreptitious, so that one never feels one is being preached at or hectored. In fact, despite the harrowing nature of some its material this is a very enjoyable book.... Unusually, for a novel by a male author, men play an almost entirely passive role in The Swine’s Wedding. It is the women who are most forcefully realized, and who are given the first–and last–word in this tale about star–crossed lovers.” The Times (London)
“This is metaphysical tragedy, the likes of which appear ten times a century, if that.” Sud Ouest (France)
“Weiss’ confidence in this briny sea of spiritual self–servitude is daring and unwavering. He cleverly weaves the story in three distinct parts. The effect is suited to the story, perfectly balanced and unnerving. Not altogether unlike the triumphant soul of the religious martyr as it succumbs to the fiery stake.” Tulsa World
“Daniel Evan Weiss is a satirist: one of the rare novelists whose works contain an unsettling mixture of the funny, shocking, and serious…. Containing some of the best one–liners in any novel I have read, The Swine’s Wedding is an absolute gem, and recommended for anyone yearning for something out of the ordinary. This is a superb tragi–comedy.” The Bookseller
“For those who like their satire black, this compulsively readable novel is a comically dark dose. Weiss takes the awkward and contemporary dance of intermarriage and gleefully ups the stakes until it’s transformed into a fiery, high–stakes tango set to the tune of the Spanish Inquisition…. [The characters] are complex, delightfully unselfconscious, and eminently credible. They’re immeasurably enriched by Weiss’s uncanny and chameleonic talent for writing in a wide range of voices. The Swine’s Wedding may not be for everyone, but it is one of the most original books to come around in a long time.” Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles
Marty was a handsome, womanizing tennis pro—until an automobile accident, three years ago, cost him his legs. He is fortunate to have the care of one girlfriend, who has stayed with him. One day the woman who was his lover at the time of the crash—and disappeared that very night—reappears. He doesn’t know why. But he does figure out that she and his current girlfriend both know something that he doesn’t—what happened to him that night on the highway.
“The best book I’ve read for ages. Not for the squeamish or the fainthearted, and how a novel can be brilliantly bitter, ferociously funny, insanely obsessive, generally foul and still end up life–enhancing I have no idea, but that’s what Dan Weiss manages in Hell On Wheels. I expect he has some special relationship with Truth....” Fay Weldon
“Fast–moving, clever, and bitter as lemons, Hell On Wheels is not for the faint–hearted.” Literary Review (London)
“Hell On Wheels is hilariously funny and painfully moving… an important and thrilling book.” Blood from Stones Magazine
“This book’s short, deceptively simple sentences weave together a moving personal account, a moonless satire, and a very tense thriller.” Athens Week (Greece)
“Incredibly neat and stylish.” Knave Magazine
“With his debut, The Roaches Have No King, Weiss made a reputation for himself as a writer of no little talent, a reputation that Hell on Wheels cements. He’s got a way of cutting through the bullshit and getting to grips with a character’s motivations that many better–known writers would do well to take note of. He’s not afraid to show his characters’ more unlikable traits, and he certainly doesn’t pass judgement on them.” Book of the Month, Fiesta Magazine
“There was Naked Lunch, now there’s Hell on Wheels.” Sud Ouest (France)
“Hell On Wheels is nothing if not a simple man’s account of a life gone hopelessly awry. Weiss’s telling of it, however, is pure magic; bearing a style that’s concise yet telling, he’s a master at telling a story by leaving things out, creating characters that are as obviously flawed as their situations.” Philadelphia Weekly
“Weiss, in playing the parts of a judgemental bug and now a dry–witted cripple, has consistently demonstrated a mathematician’s intuition for the illuminating common denominator. But his depictions of the passions that unsettle equations are no less lucid.” The Stranger
“It is Weiss’s particular skill at making the gruesome palatable – as in his previous outings, The Roaches Have No King and The Swine’s Wedding – which garnishes the book so enjoyably.” Jewish Chronicle
“Good fun in bad taste.” Sunday Times (London)
To prove himself worthy of her love, a son of Aphrodite descends to the earth and alights in Coney Island, New York. There he encounters the mortal Stanley Short–Sleeves, who, after an evening of eating, drinking, and entertainment with two buddies, has to make his way home to make love to his waiting wife. Aphrodite’s son assumes the form of one of the friends, and accompanies Stanley through the New York night, above and below ground, encountering more than their share of perils, and a cast of local deities not on the Olympian roster. This bawdy epic poem is an urban, modern–day Odyssey.
“Madman novelist Weiss goes for the Classics... a reimagining of the Odyssey set mostly in Brooklyn.... Jolly, rollicking fun, told with gusto and a surprising sensitivity.” Kirkus Reviews
“The ancient gods live!... Mixing verse with prose, Weiss’ hilarious mock epic apparently assumes that, if this kind of parody worked for modernist Joyce, it will work for postmoderns.” Booklist
“A deft and clever handling of language... generous in spirit too—if this is the form the novels of the new millennium take, half prose, half poetry, all vision, so be it. I’m happy.” Fay Weldon
“A riotous read.” Fiesta Magazine
“Told for the most part in free verse, in language that one might expect from 19th century translations of the Greek epics, but set in modern New York City (and including a fair amount of thoroughly modern conversation), Weiss has created a small but worthy contemporary epic…. We recommend it highly.” The Complete Review
Born in a small town in eastern Czechoslovakia, Jack Joseph was eight years old when the Nazis came to power in Germany. In 1938 the Allies handed much of Czechoslovakia to Germany; the following year an independent fascist Slovakia was established. By 1945 most of Jack's neighbors and many in his family had been deported to Nazi death camps and murdered. A wise father, a daring and fearless brother, an altruistic gentile, a gritty nature, and a very good run of luck saved Jack from the same fate. This tale is simply told, almost matter–of–fact—which makes it all the more vivid and harrowing.
Lynne Reid was born in Melbourne, Australia. During bloody battles with Japan early in World War II, Australia lost so many doctors that the training of young medical students was a national priority and had to be accelerated. Lynne was one of them. She was a rare find. After the war she moved to London to complete her post–doctoral education. There she began her work on the structure and function of the lung, which brought her international acclaim. She rose to dean of the Cardiothoracic Institute at London University, the first woman to hold the position. She was the first woman to become a professor of experimental pathology in England. When she later moved to the Harvard Medical School, she was one of a handful of women on the faculty, and was appointed head of pathology at one of the country’s great cancer institutes. This charming and modest memoir chronicles her world travels, her ground–breaking achievements in science, and her efforts to combat the bias faced by female medical students and physicians.
Robert C. Cochran, a child of missionaries, spent his youth in China. After returning to America to finish his schooling at Deerfield Academy, he went to Princeton University and joined the Navy Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, which provided both military and medical training. During 1968 he was stationed on a hospital ship off the coast of Vietnam, and witnessed firsthand the carnage of the Tet and May Offensives. The majority of his career was spent at Bethesda Naval Hospital, where he rose to chief of surgery; among his patients were some of the most senior members of government. He is now a professor of surgery at the West Virginia School of Medicine. This memoir is a wide–ranging, richly anecdotal, and good–humored account of a very interesting life.
Stanley Ellenbogen, a diminutive teenager from Brooklyn, NY, was drafted into the newly–formed 106th American infantry division. Though not yet combat ready, the division was sent to Europe in December 1944 and deployed in what was considered a quiet sector of the front, along the border between Belgium and Germany. Less than a week later a massive German army erupted through the American lines in that very sector. It was the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge, the bloodiest in American history. Stanley's division was shattered. He was one of more than 8000 men commanded to surrender after less than four days of fighting. Stanley was marched into Germany to a Stalag. He was moved again, across Germany to a POW camp near the Czechoslovakian border. There he was forced to build tank traps, as the Nazis braced for the assault of the vast and pitiless Soviet Army. The closer they came, the more frantic the work—and the smaller the food rations for the POWs. In skeletal condition when he was liberated, Stanley would learn an unforgettable lesson in anti–Semitism—not from the Germans or Russians, but from a fellow soldier.
“An incredible compilation of what various percentages of Americans believe, do, act, say, are.” Forbes Magazine
“Fascinating facts about who we are and what some of us—or even most of us—are thinking, doing, believing today. Good Housekeeping
“Daniel Evan Weiss knows exactly who you are. And he’s telling everybody.” Cincinnati Newspaper
“This book, consisting entirely of statistical surveys of female–male differences in attitude and experience, is more fascinating that it ought to be.” People Magazine
“Statistics freaks will be in awe of this book. There are thousands of enlightening facts on how males and females differ in dress, work, play, shopping, eating, and loving.” Toronto Sun
“Keeping score in the battle of the sexes.” Chicago Tribune
Our age is more gripping than any time in history. Not because these days are unusually interesting, but because thousands of networked cell phones, with cameras, offer instant amplification of every moment.
However, the next moment arrives with just as many options, and the one after that. It’s too much information. Thoughts do not have time to set before they are swept into the Ocean of the Past. What lies there? This generation, so overstimulated by today, keep their toes clear.
How do we get these wonderful, ignorant young people to dive in? One option is the memoir—your memoir. By writing about where you came from, what you did, what you thought, who you knew, who you loved, who you lost, the events that surrounded you, your grand triumphs, and your grand failures, you can make Time Before Texting real, vivid, worthy. Your children—and their children—might well be lured in and learn and about you, and in the process, much more about themselves.
I help people write memoirs, using interviews, manuscripts already begun, personal documents—anything that brings a life to life.
Fees start at $10,000. Please contact me to learn more.
One of my most interesting trips was to China. The trip was scheduled three times, and kept getting canceled—the massacre in Tiananmen Square was one reason—and I had doubts that I’d ever get there. But finally it was cleared. I was invited to be the vice president of a high altitude meeting in Szechuan. All of the other people at the conference, from all over, were climbers, and most had been up Everest. This included the doctors. The Chinese are fascinated with altitude, because the Han Chinese behave at altitude the way we do but the Tibetans don’t. I’ve done a lot of work with high altitude, on the problems that come with a lack of oxygen.
The Chinese had prepared a demonstration for us. A very nice American doctor told me, “I don’t think you’ll want to watch this.” But I am a doctor so of course I did. They had taken two men and whizzed them around in a chamber so fast and for so long that they didn’t know what they were doing. They showed the same total confusion that people suffer at high altitude. It was awful to see.
The president of the meeting was the only other woman, and she was a general in the Chinese Army. One night everyone was drinking gin and scotch and whiskey. I thought, “God, Father, what am I going to do?” And then I thought, “I’ll watch her, and if she’s having a drink, I’ll have a little drink.” So I’d watch her, and every time she sipped so did I. She was very proper and very careful, and I’m sure she would be quite a disciplinarian. One of the men said, the day following the dinner, “I gave the general a kiss last night, and she was not amused.”
After we were captured by the guys from the German Signal Corps, they took my rifle and they took us to a church. The church had no roof, and it started snowing again that night. The rest of the company that survived the night before was there. Somehow the Germans knew where they were. Then I found out that not everybody was killed. The rest of the people in front of me just surrendered.
There was a very small house near the church, and the next day they took us one at a time and searched us. There were about ten Germans in there. They didn’t even have to ask us any questions because they knew who we were. They knew more than we did. But I was very slow in doing something—I’m not exactly sure what it was—and they didn’t like it. I was trying to be defiant. And somebody hit me across the chest with a rifle so hard that it knocked me against a wall two or three feet away. And I said to myself, Stanley, this is not the way. Your life is not your own. These guys got you, and if you want to stay alive, when they tell you to do something, you do it.
In the church I was with what remained of my company, which was maybe a hundred guys. We were only there overnight. In the morning we started walking. And all of a sudden we were walking with thousands and thousands of people—guys who had been captured from all over the place, guys who were shot down. It was a huge mass of people. They tried to take us through the woods and along the roads as much as they could. But we walked through some cities, and people would point their fingers and laugh at us. But I didn’t give a damn what they did.
Diaries aside, what you write is not for you. It is for your readers. Your writing should be so clear and succinct that it glides through their eyes. If you make readers reread or decipher, the one thing you are sure to inspire is resentment. A memo will go to the bottom of the pile; a book will be closed and forgotten.
There are two traditional nemeses of good writing. An overwrought vocabulary encourages you to “enumerate materials before commencing to undertake an endeavor,” when “listing things before getting started” will do just fine. Such vocabulary often metastasizes into sentences so unmanageable that they will kill your readership.
The Golden Rule:
Do not write unto others that which you would not want them to write unto you.
The other danger is laziness, using the same threadbare words and phrases your peers do. Writing “state–of–the–art,” “robust,” “acid test,” “going forward,” or “low–hanging fruit,” for example, is like felling a tree. You won’t know if it makes a sound when it hits the ground, because even if people are there, no one will be listening.
In writing seminars, a client sometimes offers a lumbering grammatical monstrosity. I ask, “What does it mean?” Whereupon he explains clearly, in small words and economical sentences. I advise: “Write that instead.”
If you or your company needs help living by this principle, contact me.
We place a heavy emphasis on implementation to ensure that the chosen strategy realizes business benefits. Successful implementation requires a thorough and well–executed communications plan, careful team building, detailed project planning and effective project management, and education of employees. We measure business results to ensure that established goals are met.
Executing our business strategy is important. We plan it carefully, and train our staff so that they manage the project effectively. We measure the results of our plan to be sure it is successful.
From a doctoral thesis at the Harvard University Graduate School of Education
I will collect retrospective reports from subjects to better understand the cognitive processes subjects use while working through the tasks. This methodology is well–suited for this study for several reasons; first, the semi–structured interviews will provide rich, naturalistic data about the individuals’ understanding of the concepts and experience with the task. Second, this method is consistent with the assumption that the meaning people make of their experience is essential to gaining insight into how individuals develop and learn.
I will ask people to perform some tasks. Afterwards I will ask them what they were thinking while they were doing the tasks. Asking people questions is a good way to find out what they’re thinking, which helps us understand how they learn.
Pointed Prose Press
DANIEL EVAN WEISS