When I first came to work at Dissent, Mark Levinson told me a little about the different people who worked at the magazine. When he got to Manny, he said, “You’ll like Manny. Manny’ll make you feel at home.” Then he smiled and said, “Manny loves to talk.”
He was right. Manny did make me feel at home—within a month of my coming there Manny and Frances had me over for the first of many dinners. And Manny did love to talk. Every office has its recurring scenes, and one of the recurring scenes at Dissent involved the give-and- take between Manny and Simone Plastrik. Someone might mention Meyer Schapiro, and Manny would say, “Did I ever tell you the story about the time Meyer and Irving and Norman Mailer got stuck in an elevator for half an hour, and Meyer made the time go by by giving them a lecture on French impressionism?” Manny would go on to give a paraphrase of Meyer’s lecture, slightly abridged, and in the middle of all this Simone, the taskmaster, would look up and say, “Brian! Manny! No talk! Work!” And the two of us would be quiet for a while, because we were both afraid of Simone....
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