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Ian Frazier

Ian Frazier

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Ian Frazier is an American
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

A writer is a person who produces literature, such as novels, short stories, plays, screenplays, poetry, or other literary art. Skilled writers are able to use language to portray ideas and images....

 and humorist. He is best known for his 1989 non-fiction history Great Plains, his acclaimed 2010 best-selling opus Travels in Siberia, and as a writer and humorist for The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...



Frazier grew up in Hudson, Ohio
Hudson, Ohio
Hudson is a city in Summit County, Ohio, United States. The population was 22,262 at the 2010 census. It is an affluent exurban community and is part of the Akron, Ohio Metropolitan Statistical Area...

; his father worked as a chemist for Sohio; his mother was an amateur actor, performing and directing plays in local Ohio theaters. Frazier attended Western Reserve Academy
Western Reserve Academy
Western Reserve Academy is a private, mid-sized, coeducational boarding and day college preparatory school located in Hudson, Ohio.-History:...

, and later Harvard University
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

, where he was on the staff of the Harvard Lampoon
Harvard Lampoon
The Harvard Lampoon is an undergraduate humor publication founded in 1876 at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts.-Overview:Published since 1876, The Harvard Lampoon is the world's longest continually published humor magazine. It is also the second longest-running English-language humor...

. He graduated in 1973.

Since departing the Great Plains, Frazier has lived in Brooklyn, New York
Brooklyn is the most populous of New York City's five boroughs, with nearly 2.6 million residents, and the second-largest in area. Since 1896, Brooklyn has had the same boundaries as Kings County, which is now the most populous county in New York State and the second-most densely populated...

, and Montclair, New Jersey
Montclair, New Jersey
-Demographics:As of the census of 2000, there were 38,977 people, 15,020 households, and 9,687 families residing in the township. The population density was 6,183.6 people per square mile . There were 15,531 housing units at an average density of 2,464.0 per square mile...

 with his wife, the author Jacqueline Carey, and their two children, Cora and Thomas.

Frazier's most autobiographical work is Family.

Writing career

After graduating from Harvard, Frazier worked briefly as a writer for the pornographic magazine
Pornographic magazine
Pornographic magazines, sometimes known as adult magazines, sex magazines or top-shelf magazines are pornographic magazines that contain content of a sexual nature. Adult magazines are mainly aimed towards men, and in some parts of the world, many men's first sight of a naked woman has been in an...

 Oui in Chicago. The following year, he moved to New York City
New York City
New York is the most populous city in the United States and the center of the New York Metropolitan Area, one of the most populous metropolitan areas in the world. New York exerts a significant impact upon global commerce, finance, media, art, fashion, research, technology, education, and...

 and joined the staff of The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

 magazine, where he wrote feature articles, humorous sketches, and pieces for "The Talk of the Town" section.

In 1982, Frazier moved to Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

 and, through travel and library research, began collecting materials, anecdotes and impressions that would later become 1989's Great Plains. He returned to the region in the later 1990s to research his book about Native Americans
Indigenous peoples of the Americas
The indigenous peoples of the Americas are the pre-Columbian inhabitants of North and South America, their descendants and other ethnic groups who are identified with those peoples. Indigenous peoples are known in Canada as Aboriginal peoples, and in the United States as Native Americans...

, On the Rez.

In his nonfiction works such as Great Plains, Family, and On the Rez, Frazier combines first-person narrative with in-depth research on topics including American history
History of the United States
The history of the United States traditionally starts with the Declaration of Independence in the year 1776, although its territory was inhabited by Native Americans since prehistoric times and then by European colonists who followed the voyages of Christopher Columbus starting in 1492. The...

, Native Americans
Native Americans in the United States
Native Americans in the United States are the indigenous peoples in North America within the boundaries of the present-day continental United States, parts of Alaska, and the island state of Hawaii. They are composed of numerous, distinct tribes, states, and ethnic groups, many of which survive as...

, fishing
Fishing is the activity of trying to catch wild fish. Fish are normally caught in the wild. Techniques for catching fish include hand gathering, spearing, netting, angling and trapping....

, and the outdoors. Frazier is among the best modern exponents of The New Yorker
The New Yorker
The New Yorker is an American magazine of reportage, commentary, criticism, essays, fiction, satire, cartoons and poetry published by Condé Nast...

s style of level-headed, matter-of-fact lyricism; an example are these final lines from the 1985 essay "Bear News," reprinted in his 1987 collection Nobody Better, Better than Nobody.
Beautiful scenery makes its point quickly; then you have to pay attention, or it starts to slide by like a loop of background on a Saturday-morning cartoon... When you see a bear, the spot where you see it becomes instantly different from every place else you've seen. Bears make you pay attention. They keep the mountains from turning into a blur, and they stop your self from bullying you like nothing else in nature. A woods with a bear in it is real to a man walking through it in a way that a woods with no bear is not. Roscoe Black, a man who survived a serious attack by a grizzly in Glacier Park several years ago, described the moment when the bear had him on the ground: "He laid on me for a few seconds, not doing anything...I could feel his heart beating against my heart." The idea of that heart beating someplace just the other side of ours is what makes people read about bears and tell stories about bears and theorize about bears and argue about bears and dream about bears. Bears are one of the places in the world where big mysteries run close to the surface.

The New York Times
The New York Times
The New York Times is an American daily newspaper founded and continuously published in New York City since 1851. The New York Times has won 106 Pulitzer Prizes, the most of any news organization...

 critic James Gorman described Frazier's 1996 humor collection Coyote v. Acme (in the title piece, Wile E. Coyote
Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner
Wile E. Coyote and The Road Runner are a duo of cartoon characters from a series of Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies cartoons. The characters were created by animation director Chuck Jones in 1948 for Warner Bros., while the template for their adventures was the work of writer Michael Maltese...

 is suing the manufacturer of various rocket-propelled devices) as the occasion for "irrepressible laughter in the reader." Gorman rates Frazier's first collection, 1986s Dating Your Mom, as "one of the best collections of humor ever published."

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