Insights from a Writer's Life

October 19, 2010

Students, faculty, staff and members of the Winter Park Community were thoroughly enthralled by the literary genius that is Daniel Menaker this past Friday, October 15.  As part of the concluding event in the Winter Park Institute’s Ideas in Residence: Writers and Editors series, Menaker read excerpts from both his serious and comic works and answered audience questions.  The event was followed by a book signing.

Menaker describes his writing as “including the sublime and the ridiculous in almost equal measure,” a description that proved to be true throughout Friday’s event.  Frequent uproarious laughter emanated in response to Menaker’s eloquent comments and superb observations which permeated many of the excerpts he read.  In sharp juxtaposition to the humor, Menaker also recounted the story of his indirect involvement in his brother’s untimely death.  Using this contrast, Menaker explained to the audience the lesson he had learned about life’s fragility and how the death of his brother allowed him the freedom to write. Writing, Menaker said, is what allowed him to move past his family’s tragedy. 

Following the event, Menaker offered advice to aspiring young writers.  “It’s not enough to just want to write,” he said.  “The best thing that you can do is immerse yourself in whatever you are most passionate.  Even if you have a very large and strong cup of talent, you have to fill it with something meaningful.” 

Author of two New York Times Notable Books and former Senior Fiction Editor for The New Yorker and Executive Editor-in-Chief of Random House, Menaker has written several works of fiction and nonfiction and has contributed essays, humor and journalism to every major American magazine and roughly five different sections of the The New York Times.  While working at Random House, Menaker discovered and “poached” the up-and-coming Billy Collins.  “It’s been a great honor to know and have edited Billy Collins,” said Menaker, who was invited to Rollins by the Winter Park Institute and Collins.  “I have great admiration and respect for Rollins College and its academic and cultural contributions to society,” he said.

Next up for the Winter Park Institute is the world-premier of Artist-in-Residence Jaron Lanier’s composition, “Symphony for Amelia.” The collaborative event, entitled Inside the Artistic Process, will take place in the Knowles Memorial Chapel on Saturday, October 23, featuring a performance by the Winter Park Bach Festival Orchestra and Choir followed by a discussion of the symphony by Lanier.  Learn more about Winter Park Institute and view upcoming events.

To get tickets to the Bach Festival performance, please visit

By Justin Braun (MBA Class of 2011)

Office of Public Relations & Community Affairs
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