Kind Words

Compensation in gold is necessary for a writer to eat, but attention is the writer's oxygen. Homo Scribus is a narcissistic creature, so every little pat on the back helps. I've listed a few appreciations here. 

Ten Tales Of Crazy Convicts, Nolan Moore 10/8/2015: #9 Daniel Genis, The Writer Who Bought Souls

...During his time in prison, Daniel had some wild “adventures.” He met the murderer who inspired The Amityville Horror and had a front row seat to a race riot. He taped magazines around his body to survive a stabbing and once convinced his fellow inmates to sell him their souls. At a medium-security prison, Daniel was living on $100 per month, meaning he could buy more goods from the commissary than other convicts. That also meant people were constantly borrowing his coffee. Growing irritated, Daniel solved the problem with some peculiar paperwork. Whenever a prisoner asked for something, Daniel presented the inmate with a contract. Sign on the dotted line, and you’d get a cup of joe . . . in exchange for your soul. As each inmate only had one soul, this was the last cup of coffee they could ever get from Daniel. The strategy worked well until a hyper-religious prison official accused Genis of committing an “unauthorized exchange” and threw this modern-day devil into solitary for 90 days.

When he wasn’t collecting souls, Daniel devoured books. During his 10 years in prison, he read a whopping 1,046 titles. A rabbi encouraged him to study Josephus, and a meeting with a child molester inspired him to read Lolita. Daniel even read the heavy stuff like Infinite Jest and In Search of Lost Time. He wrote his own alt-history novel entitled Narcotica, and when he needed to concentrate, he’d drug his yappy cellmate.

Daniel was released in February 2014. These days, he works as a journalist, writing for places like Vice and Deadspin. As for his reading life, The New Yorker reports that Daniel hasn’t picked up a single book since he got out of jail.

2014 Deadspin Hall Of Fame: Daniel Genis Nominated

  • If Deadspin gave out Rookie of the Year awards, 2014 might belong to Daniel Genis, who finished a 10-year prison bid in February and has already written several books' worth of raw, incredible, visceral, and profoundly human dispatches about his time inside. There's no better day to revisit the stuff he did for us year, from his sex/violence/drugs trilogy to his sporting endeavors in weightlifting and tennis to his very own version of a Christmas miracle. Enjoy reading (or re-reading), and, uh, happy holidays.    

Vice Employees of the Month, September 2014

  •  Daniel Genis grew up in New York City and spent much of his youth listening in on vodka-fueled dinners attended by ex-Soviet writers and editors who talked fancy in his parents’ uptown apartment. His publishing career was on track until almost two years of heroin addiction changed everything. Genis became a “Sorry Bandit,” as one of the city’s tabloids memorably dubbed him, when he politely committed a series of robberies to pay off a crazed Ukrainian dealer in the Village. After kicking the habit and being clean for three months, he was spotted by one of his victims and spent ten years in prison. There, he met the Amityville Horror murderer Ronald DeFeo Jr., whom he wrote about for this issue.

Thirty Great Articles About Sex

Esquire Steals an article from Thrillist!

  •  But since most cooking implements can be used to, you know, kill people, prison cooking requires ingenuity and an adventurous spirit. In a long, detailed feature published on Thrillist, former prison inmate Daniel Genis highlighted a few of the finer points of prison cuisine. And since you never know when you're going to end up in the slammer, here are 8 things to take away from it:

Lights Rise on Grace: Kirsten Bowen, Woolly Mammoths’s Literary Manager

  • KB: We found a unique perspective on prison sexual relations in this piece by Daniel Genis, who spent ten years in the New York State prison system for armed robbery and was released in February 2014. Since then, Genis has written pieces and been interviewed about various aspects of prison life from sex to weight lifting to religion in such publications and news outlets as The Paris Review, Newsweek, The Washington Post, Vice, and NPR.

Why Terrorists Weep: The Socio-Cultural Practices of Jihadi Militants

  • On this note, let me end with a quote by Daniel Genis, an ex-convict who writes really 
    interesting articles about culture inside American prisons. It’s on a grim topic, but ends with an important insight
    “There's even names for scars. There's a ‘telephone cut,’ whichgoes from your ear to your mouth, which you get for using a claimed telephone. There's a ‘‘buck eighty,’ which is a scar [that] requires 180 stitches. There are ‘curtains, which are two cuts down the face, which make your eyes look like they have curtains. There's the ‘‘hook,’ which puts a hole in the cheek. These things sound horrible, but in reality they [..] show a culture of incarceration has arisen and it shows that human beings really are more than animals — we make culture wherever we go.”

News from the Spirit World


  • A man convicted robber turned author and journalist Daniel Genis got to know during his stay at Green Haven Correctional Facility. Genis not only had the real horror of substance addiction to share with DeFeo, but also the fact that both hailed from Amityville. In fact Genis told of a dare in his younger days that saw him enter the actual property on Ocean Ave after the murders and alleged haunting took place. Genis notes that conversation with Ronald DeFeo would start out in the early days of their friendship with small talk about local Amityville locations like the best pizza parlor in town to details of his marriage with Geraldine Gates, who married DeFeo in 1989.

  • Eventually, after gaining DeFeo’s trust, the subject matter would turn to the murders themselves and in classic fashion, DeFeo would change the story as time wore on. A year later DeFeo admitted that he’d made up the mobster killers. His sister had lost it, DeFeo now claimed; Dawn was always unstable and hated the family and ended up executing them all with a shotgun. Ronnie survived by wrestling the gun away from her and killing her himself. Ronald DeFeo would also confide later to Genis that his family were ‘monsters’ and that if he had to do it again he would still commit multiple murder. Genis’ tale reminds us of the multiple points of confusion, debate and conjecture that surround the entie Amityville story that has taken on a life all it’s own. Daniel Genis has movd beyond the walls of correctional facility’s, writing a novel entitled Narcotica and writing for such places as Newsweek and the New York Daily News. 

The Buffalo News, 6/29/2015: Escaping prison, surviving the wild: the journey of Matt and Sweat, by Tim O'Shea

  • But here is something different about inmates, a quality neither Levine nor anyone else who has avoided incarceration couldn’t possibly know. The experience of living in prison makes you hardened, almost immune, to many physical discomforts.          
  • “Prisoners spend days without eating, control their bodily functions, and generally develop a heightened situational awareness,” said Brooklyn-based writer Daniel Genis, a former Clinton inmate, in an email to The News. “Cold and heat matter less, pickiness in food disappears, and hearing and intuition double in power after a few years.” If a prisoner has been to “the box,” a windowless cell used for punishment that has nothing but a bed, toilet, shower, and slot for food and mail, his ability to withstand mental challenges may be especially high. It’s likely that both Matt and Sweat spent time in the box.