Synopses & Reviews
A GOOD TALK is an analysis of and guide to that most exclusively human of all activities-- conversation
Drawing on over forty years of experience in American letters, Menaker pinpoints the factors that drive and enliven every good conversation: the vagaries (and joys) of subtext; the deeper structure and meaning of conversational flow; the subliminal signals that guide our disclosures and confessions; and the countless other hurdles we must clear along the way. Moving beyond self-help musings and "how to" advice, he has created a stylish, funny, and surprising book: a celebration of "the most excusively human of all activities."
In a time when conversation remains deeply important-- for building relationships, for relaxing, even for figuring out who we are-- and also increasingly imperiled (with Blackberries and texting increasingly in vogue), A GOOD TALK is a refreshing celebration of the subtle adventures of a good conversation.
"A fiction writer and former editor at the New Yorker and Random House, Menaker (The Treatment) regards conversation as 'a human art of great importance produced by all people everywhere.' His witty approach is evident almost immediately, as he speculates on the creation of human language, moving on to the general rules of conversation, London coffeehouses as a forum for ideas, greetings, and name-droppers: 'They wrap the pig of name-dropping in a blanket of casualness, or even criticalness, and seem to actually believe you won't taste the inner wiener.' At the book's core is a conversation between Menaker and an anonymous female writer. Taped in a Brooklyn restaurant, this lengthy transcript is analyzed in detail to show how the participants take risks, seek a 'common ground,' interject humor, and discover perceptive insights about each other. Interview tactics and prepared remarks are covered, along with e-mail embarrassments, dating stratagems, sarcastic barbs, compliments, and interruptions. However, what makes a lasting impression is the parade of anecdotes about life in the corridors of the New Yorker and Random House, leaving the reader yearning for a full-scale Menaker memoir." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"I might have guessed that Daniel Menaker could talk about talk with the same facility and charm that he can bring to any conversation. Still, A GOOD TALK, his lively analysis of the workings of social speech, comes as a delightful revelation."----Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the United States and author of Ballistics
"The art of conversation is in decline, and Daniel Menaker has hastened that decline by writing prose that is so funny, surprising, and habit-forming that the reader is inclined to cancel all social engagements and stay in at night with this book. I don't know about you, but I find it hard to resist an author who compares Socrates to
Columbo."--Mary Roach, author of Stiff
"How can a single book be so learned, so wise, so helpful, and so short? A Good Talk is a great delight."--Ann Packer, author of The Dive from Clausen's Pier
"Just when it seems our society has forgotten how vital it is to our health and well being to have both intimate and public productive conversation, Daniel Menaker brings us "A Good Talk." This intelligent and thoughtful exploration of human communication happens to be very entertaining, but more importantly it provides a roadmap for enhancing your own relationships with good talk." --Gail Saltz, M.D. Psychiatrist, Psychoanalyst, and Today Show Contributor
Drawing on over 40 years of experience in American letters, Menaker pinpointsthe factors that drive and enliven every good conversation.
About the Author
has been a part of America
's life of letters for almost forty years. As a writer, he has met and talked to thousands of people about their work and their lives. He is widely read and well versed in psychological literature and practices and, as an editor at Random House, has had countless meetings and other exchanges with writers, agents, public figures, and ordinary people. His own writing has appeared in the New Yorker
, the New York Times
, and Slate
he lives in New York
with his wife and their two children.