David Denby was born in New York City in 1943, and was educated at Columbia and Stanford. He is the author of Great Books (1996), an acclaimed account of returning to college and reading the Western classics during the curriculum wars; American Sucker (2004), his wrenching memoir of getting caught up in the stock market at the time of the tech bubble and the breakup of his marriage; Snark (2009), a polemic against the spread of nasty low sarcasm as a journalistic style in the Internet age; Do the Movies Have a Future? (2012), a collection of his best movie criticism from The New Yorker; and Lit Up (2016), a prequel to Great Books, in which he embeds in tenth-grade English classes at three pubic schools to see if—and how—teenagers can be turned on to serious reading.
Denby is a staff writer and former film critic for The New Yorker, and his reviews and essays have appeared in The New Republic, The Atlantic, and New York magazine (where he was film critic from 1978 to 1998), among other places. He lives in New York City with his wife, writer Susan Rieger. He has two sons and two grandsons.