I am the author of Failure: An Autobiography (Cyan Books, 2007), and a novel, The Old Girl (Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1980), as well as short fiction, literary criticism, and many book reviews. The distinguished literary critic and editor Sven Birkerts said of Failure: “Outing himself as a failure, Gidding outs all of us. But what a pleasure it is: the sweet burn of shame, the head-rattling impact of pride after the fall, the false redemption of complaint. If you don’t connect to this book you are probably in terminal denial.” Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam wrote, “It’s so good it’s flirting with greatness” (July 23, 2007). The book was featured in a Newsweek article called “Betas Rule” (June 4, 2007), and later got a mention in Giles Harvey’s New Yorker piece on memoirs of failure (March 25, 2013). I have also published three essays in AGNI Magazine: “On Not Being Proust: A Study in Literary Failure” (Spring 2008), which was listed as a “Notable Essay” in Best American Essays 2009; “On the Desire for Future Biographers” (AGNI Blog, April 10, 2017); and “The Light of Homer” (AGNI Blog, Oct. 29, 2018). I have completed two book-length memoirs on the subjects of shame (Shame: A Transgression, 2015) and widowerhood (The Widower: An Afterlife, 2011), and am currently working on a series of personal essays related to those memoirs.
I was born in New York City, and grew up in Los Angeles. For 19 years I taught writing and literature at Dowling College on Long Island; before that, I taught at Holy Cross and the University of Southern California, where I received my doctorate in English in 1994. I graduated with Honors (and a Classical Diploma) from Phillips Exeter Academy, and with High Honors and General Academic Distinction (with a major in Classics) from UC Berkeley. I have also taught writing at Stony Brook University on Long Island and Highline College near Seattle, where I now live. Before entering academia, I worked for many years as a script-reader at Warner Bros., MGM, Columbia, and Paramount Pictures, and before that as a short-order cook and busboy.