Philipp Meyer grew up in a working class neighborhood in Baltimore, the son of an artist and an electrician turned college science instructor. The neighborhood, Hampden, had been devastated by the collapse of various heavy industries, and crime and unemployment were rampant. Meyer attended city public schools until dropping out at age 16 and getting a GED. He spent the next five years working as a bicycle mechanic and occasionally volunteering at Baltimores Shock Trauma Center.
At age 20, he began taking classes at a variety of colleges in Baltimore and decided to become a writer. He also decided to leave his hometown, and at 22, on his third attempt at applying to various Ivy League colleges, he was admitted to Cornell University. He graduated with a degree in English and a mountain of debt and headed for Wall Street to pay off his student loans.
After getting a job with the Swiss investment bank UBS, Meyer did training in London and Zurich and was assigned to an elite group of derivatives traders, jokingly referred to as the genius desk. After several years at UBS, hed paid off most of his student loans and decided to pursue his dream of becoming a writer. When his savings ran out he took jobs as an emergency medical technician and construction worker. He was preparing for a second career as a paramedic when he received a fellowship at the Michener Center for Writers in Austin, TX.
Shortly after moving to Austin, Meyer learned that Hurricane Katrina was about to hit New Orleans. After loading his car with medical supplies he drove all night and arrived in New Orleans in the middle of the hurricane. He spent two days doing emergency medical work for a local police department.
In 2008 he received an MFA from the Michener Center for Writers. In 2010 he received a fellowship from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation. He has also received fellowships or residencies from MacDowell, Yaddo, Ucross, Blue Mountain Center, and the Anderson Center for the Arts. He believes that the representation of internal consciousness is one of literatures most important capabilities; much of his writing is influenced by the work of pioneers such as Joyce, Faulkner, Woolf, and Hemingway, as well as contemporary writers like James Kelman.
In June 2010 he was named one of the New Yorker's "20 Under 40" list of fiction writers worth watching.
He currently lives in Austin, Texas, where he is an avid outdoorsman and enjoys tinkering with anything mechanical.
From the author's website 2010
This biography was last updated on 06/03/2010.
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