Howard Junker was born in Port Washington, NY, a town Fitzgerald called East Egg in The Great Gatsby.
He grew up in Chappaqua, NY, across the valley from Reader’s Digest.
He was educated at Horace Greeley, Canterbury, Amherst, Stanford, and the University of San Francisco. He bought his doctorate of divinity by mail for $35 from the Clayton Theological Institute.
He served in the Naval Air Reserve as an antisubmarine warfare technician, doing his six months of active duty in Memphis, TN.
He has written for many magazines, including Architectural Digest, Art in America, Artforum, Esquire, Film Comment, Film Quarterly, Harper’s Bazaar, The Nation, The New Republic, New York, Newsweek, Playboy, Rolling Stone, The Village Voice, and Vogue.
He has also worked as a documentary filmmaker, a television producer, a construction carpenter, a junior high school science teacher, a fondue cook, a P.R. flack, and a technical editor. He has appeared in the films The Werewolf of Washington and I Am a Sex Addict. He was briefly seen on YouTube covering “Satisfaction.”
He founded ZYZZYVA, a journal of West Coast writers and artists, in 1985, and edited 90 issues before he retired at the end of 2010. He also edited five anthologies of work from its pages, most recently, AutoBioDiversity, as well as four ZYZZYVA first novels and three ZYZZYVA first collections of poems.
Although at first he published as many famous west coast writers as he could, he later specialized in discovering new writers, introducing some 250 in all, including Haruki Murakami (first appearance in English), Po Bronson, Chitra Divakaruni, and F.X. Toole, whose stories inspired Million Dollar Baby. He published Kay Ryan in his second issue, and Sherman Alexie, while Alexie was still an undergraduate.
He lives in San Francisco with his wife, with whom he goes to the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market early Saturday mornings.