you'd look smug, too, if you were about to eat a Burmese feast...

you'd look smug, too, if you were about to eat a Burmese feast...

Born a Hoosier, raised a central-Illinoisan, Murnighan used geography quotas to get in to Brown University, where he studied philosophy and semiotics and graduated in 1990. 

The next two years were spent on and off in Paris, doing Orwellian lifestyle experiments and seeing what his identity would be if he spoke to no one and got no positive feedback. He wrote a lot of letters.

Penniless, he returned to the academy, joining Duke University's Literature Program, where he would eventually earn a Ph.D. (in 1999) with a thesis on allegory and a specialization in Medieval and Renaissance literature.

While writing his dissertation, Murnighan started working as an editor and staff writer of, contributing, among other things, Jack's Naughty Bits, a weekly column on sex in the history of literature, which was ultimately compiled into two books, The Naughty Bits and Classic Nasty.

In 2000 he left Nerve and began research for Beowulf on the Beach, reading or rereading all 15 of Dickens' major novels, as well as most of the rest of the Western canon. He fancied himself a swashbuckling young rival of Harold Bloom, minus the readership or chair at Yale. 

Beowulf on the Beach: What to Love and What to Skip in Literature's 50 Greatest Hits was published in May of 2009 and made the nonfiction bestseller lists of a number of regions around the U.S.

His next book he co-authored with Maura Kelly. Much Ado About Loving is a compendium of dating and relationship advice culled from the wisdom of great novels. 

For a brief interval, he worked as the Director of Analytics and Strategy for The Walt Disney Company's interactive division.

He has since left and now spends most of his time in Myanmar, learning the Burmese language and doing assiduous testing of the street food of Yangon. 

He can be reached at