Michael Largo is an expert on the anomalous ways of American dying. He is the author of The Portable Obituary (a Bram Stoker Award Finalist), Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We Die (winner of the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Nonfiction), and three novels. He was the former editor of New York Poetry and the researcher/archivist for the film company Allied Artists. The son of an NYPD narcotics detective, Largo was the owner and founder of the landmark NYC East Village, St Marks Bar & Grill during the early 80s, where he served an eclectic clientele, including Allen Ginsberg, Joni Mitchell, Larry Rivers, and Keith Richards, to name a few, allowing an insider’s look and unusual vantage to observe both genius and heroin--in all its deviations--and its impact on contemporary culture.
Michael Largo has been collecting statistics and information on the American way of dying for over a decade. He is a member of The Authors Guild, Mystery Writers of America amd Horror Writers of America, and The American Historical Association.
Michael Largo was born in Staten Island, New York in the 1950s, to a family of firefighters and police officers, with both grandfather and father part of the NYPD. His mother’s family traced their roots to the first Dutch settlers of New Amsterdam. As a child Largo was a devote altar boy, and the borough’s youngest Eagle Scout. He received an A.S. in Environmental Science from The College of Staten Island, and then attended Brooklyn College to study with poet John Ashbery, there receiving a B.A. in English, and was the recipient of the Whiteside Poetry Award.
He lived for the next ten years in NYC’s East Village, editing numerous literary magazines, teaching, and eventually opening an art galley, and then the St. Marks Bar & Grill, which was the original inspiration for his newest book, Genius And Heroin: The Illustrated Catalogue of Creativity, Obsession and Reckless Abandon through the Ages (HarperCollins, 2008). This “hole-in-the wall” and former 1930s tavern became an epicenter of the bohemian crowd, as seen in the Rolling Stone’s video for “Waiting on a Friend.”
Previously, Michael Largo published his first book of poetry Nails in Soft Wood (Pikadilly Press, 1974), first novel, Southern Comfort (New Earth Books, 1977), and was the recipient of a grant from the New York State Council of the Arts. He then abruptly left New York City in the mid-80s to work on sea-going tugs and other ships, there using the long solitary hours between ports to read the entire Encyclopedia Britannica, (though admits to only got to the letter U.) Nevertheless, Largo then worked as a researcher and archivist for the film company Allied Artists, and continued to publish numerous short stories and poetry in literary journals. He also published two novels, a sequel to Southern Comfort, titled Lies Within (Tropical Press, 1997), and a satirical novel, Welcome to Miami (Tropical Press, 1999).
In the early 1990s, due to various incidents and close-calls with mortality, and the death of loved ones, Largo became fixated on listing and examining the exact causes of death in America. Discovering there was no one source for this information, this was no slight undertaking before the Internet, and he traveled widely collecting statistics, obituaries, and documents from the colonial times to the present. This effort culminated with the publication of Final Exits: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of How We Die (HarperCollins, 2006), which won the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in Non Fiction, and The Portable Obituary: How The Famous, Rich, and Powerful Really Died (HarperCollins, 2007).
These activities, among other issues, led to three marriages, though somehow miraculously produced five wonderful children. After spending a portion of last year traveling in Europe to visit the locales where many of the brilliant minds examined in Genius And Heroin lived, created, and ultimately self-destructed, Largo currently resides on the outskirts of Atlanta. He is at work writing a reference to the exalted and down-right crazy lives of saints, prophets, cult leaders, martyrs, soothsayers, philosophers, and preachers throughout history.