John Reed (born February 7, 1969) is an American novelist. He is the author of four novels: A Still Small Voice (2000), Snowball's Chance (2002) with a preface by Alexander Cockburn, The Whole (2005), and All the World's a Grave: A New Play by William Shakespeare (2008). His fifth book, Tales of Woe (2010), is a collection of twenty-five stories, chronicling true stories of abject misery.
Born in 1969 in New York City, Reed is the son of artists David Reed and Judy Rifka. He attended Hampshire College, and received a Masters in Fine Art in Creative Writing from Columbia University. He teaches at The New School.
Reed was an early contributor to, and subsequently an editor with, Open City, a New York literary journal published by Robert Bingham, who later founded the book series.
He is affiliated with the New York Press and The Brooklyn Rail. "Americans are extremely sophisticated in terms of narrative forms," said Reed in an interview. "We see it in commercials, we see it on TV, we see it in movies. But the narrative forms we're talking about are three acts, five acts, depending on how you want to look at it. They're all based on a Christian model of sin, suffering, redemption; which is not a large model."
A Still Small Voice
A Still Small Voice (Delacorte 2000, Delta 2001), Reedâs first novel, is a historical novel based on the life of a girl growing up in Kentucky from 1850-1870.
Snowball's Chance (Roof Books 2002/2003), Reedâs second novel was a controversial send-up of George Orwellâs Animal Farm, and ended in a cataclysmic attack on the âTwin Millsâ (reminiscent of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center). It became a bestseller in the field of books by independent literary publishers.
The Whole, or, Duh Whole
The Whole, Reedâs third novel, parodied MTV and was released in 2005 by MTV Books (Simon & Schuster). The novel described a gigantic hole that appears in the middle of the country, which engulfs four states.
All the World's a Grave
Reed, in a new work, returns to the overhaul of canonical English writers in All the World's a Grave, fall 2008, Penguin Books. The work, subtitled "A New Play by William Shakespeare", is a tragedy in five acts, a "mash-up" constructed of lines drawn from five Shakespeare tragedies and one Shakespeare history; Hamlet, King Lear, Macbeth, Othello, Romeo & Juliet and Henry V. In the "literary trick" (as described by Page Six of The New York Post) Shakespeare's lines are rearranged into a wholly new story, in which Prince Hamlet of Denmark goes to war to claim his bride and the daughter of King Lear, Juliet. Upon a triumphant return home, Hamlet discovers that his mother has murdered his father, and married Macbeth. Visited by his father's ghost, and goaded by the opportunistic Lieutenant Iago, Hamlet is driven mad by the erroneous belief that Juliet is having an affair with General Romeo.
- John Reed's website
- All the World's a Grave, book website.
- Kill the beavers!, The Daily Telegraph, November 22, 2002.
- John Reed: Saint George and the Damn Truth, Moby Lives, Nove,ber 10, 2003.
- John Reed: The Whole, an excerpt, Brooklyn Rail, January 2005.
- Dinitia Smith: A Pig Returns to the Farm, Thumbing His Snout at Orwell, The New York Times, November 25, 2002.
- Cathy Young: Blaming the Victim, Reason.com, December 3, 2002.
- Andrea Scrima: Review of Tales of Woe, Rumpus, November 16, 2010.
- Interview with Arthur Phillips on rewriting Shakespeare
- Wikinews:John Reed on Orwell, God, self-destruction and the future of writing