Don’t expect A Good Talk: The Story & Skill of Conversation to improve your conversation skills, though it just may. For his new book, published today by Twelve Books, Daniel Menaker set out not to write a “how to” but a “what for” volume. He finds the mysterious origins of conversation in pre-verbal ape behavior. And he reports that stress so effectively suffocates conversation that refugee camps are among the quietest places on earth.
A former Random House editor-in-chief (before that, he was a New Yorker senior editor), Menaker engages his readers with an examination of the aims and aimlessness of conversation between individuals who have just met. “This book is about people who don’t know each other very well, and are getting to know each other, and seeing if they want to have a stronger connection in the future.” He names four steps in such a conversation: survey, discovery, risks, and roles.
For more, check out this interview with (and by) Daniel Menaker: