David McDannald
(832) 746-6574

Representation: Luc Hunt
David McDannald CU
David McDannald is a writer, traveler, and musician. He is a co-author of The Last Great Ape: A Journey through Africa and a Fight for the Heart of the Continent, recently published by Pegasus Books. His writing has appeared in such publications as TriQuarterly, Sierra Magazine, and The American Scholar. Born in Houston, he is a graduate of The Kinkaid School and Washington and Lee University, where he completed a major in philosophy and another in business and economics. Torn between different versions of the world, between creativity and pragmatism, he accepted a job out of university at Goldman Sachs and there killed off the inner businessman that had been growing in him since childhood.

While at Goldman, David began to write, to express his alienation from the earning-spending model of American life. Writing not only offered a tool for charting a new path but revealed itself to be the path. And one Monday after work, David began a novel, a project big enough to live within. In a letter to his great aunt, he asked if there was a spare bed on her West Texas ranch and any need for a new hand. She responded, “There’s a fifty-year-old railroad trailer without a bathroom. You can stay in that. It has an outhouse.” After two years in finance, David left Wall Street for the West Texas mountains to begin writing in earnest—while assuming the tasks of a lowly ranch hand, like sweeping goat dung out of dry stock tanks.

In the years since, the search for new experience has driven David far beyond West Texas. He now splits his time between caring for the ranch’s cattle herd and traveling in Africa and South America. He speaks four languages, including Swahili, and has spent years in Africa, staying in the rainforest with Baka Pygmies, helping to deliver calves in Maasai cattle camps, and trekking alone in regions where hyenas are as common as goats. Aspiring to a deliberate and uncluttered life, he thrives in places where the wild is a character in the day to day, where he can get his heat from burning old cedar fence posts in a stove or from sticks gathered on the savannah, while remembering the difference between what is essential and what is a gift. Said by a French literary agent to be the best writer she’d come across in twenty years, he is on the verge of completing two novels, one set in West Texas, the other in Africa. David’s hope is that his writing conveys the purpose of older times.