A philosopher and a professional schmoozer discuss the art of conversation
Daniel Menaker is a good talker. He has to be; the former New Yorker fiction editor and Random House executive editor-in-chief has long been highly sought for schmoozing opportunities of all sorts. In a freewheeling new book, A Good Talk: The Story and Skill of Conversation, Menaker writes about both why he believes conversation matters and the elements that make for a good conversationalist. (Curiosity, humor, and impudence, he says, are key.) For Vox Tablet, we asked him to have a chat with Joshua Halberstam, a philosopher and the author of Schmoozing, about private conversations among American Jews. It was Menaker and Halberstam’s first meeting, but it turned out they had a lot to say to each other, on topics ranging from ultra-Orthodox demographics to logical positivism.