cover image Mr. Personality

Mr. Personality

Mark Singer, Author Alfred A. Knopf $18.95 (361p) ISBN 978-0-394-57210-9

Ever since William Shawn hired him, at 24, in 1974, to write Talk of the Town pieces for the New Yorker , Tulsa-born Mark Singer ( Funny Money ) has been a genuine New Yorker, whose delightfully whimsical interviews with fellow townspeople have brought joy to readers everywhere. Among these 31 reprinted pieces are portraits not only of three eminent retireesradio humorist Goodman Ace, TV news producer Gordon Manning and Bill Schifrin, who sold wedding rings for 40 years on W. 47th St.but also of zipper repairman Herbert Stiefel, knife sharpener Lenny Binelli, penal museum curator Joe Baranyi, pigeon mumbler Patrick Sottile and auto wreck renter Larry Cohen. Other pieces profile the five Brennan brothers, who live in and superintend East Side luxury apartment houses; former traveling bow-tie salesman and active theatrical dealmaker Sam Cohen; and sidewalk violin serenader Rubin Levine, who has a repertoire of 30,000 tunes (``if time permits''). There's something, and somebody, here for everyone. (Jan.)