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Bennett CerfBennett Cerf
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Donald and I were in our office. As I told you, we faced each other. We were on Fifty-seventh Street at that time. In came Irwin Shaw, a great big bruiser of a fellow. He looked like a longshoreman--dirty, sweaty, but with a most infectious personality. He had a lusty, hearty laugh that made you laugh with him. We liked this fellow at sight.

We told him how much we liked his play. We agreed on a lot of things. I called Donald aside. I said to Irwin, “Wait for me a minute.” I said, “This fellow has got it. He's bright as hell. And he looks pretty hard up to me. Let's offer him a job. I think that he'd be good up here at Random House.” Donald said, “What will we do with him?" I said, “I don't know. We'll find something for him. Let's see what happens.” So Donald said, “All right.”

I came back to Irwin and said, “I know that Bury the Dead is a fine play and running to nice houses in this little theater, but you can't be making much money on it.” He said, “Oh, that wasn't the idea at all. I'm delighted that it's on.” So I said, “What do you do?" I didn't want to ask, “What are you living on?" He said, “Oh, I write for radio.” I said, “You do? Regularly?" He said, “I've got a tremendous job.” I said, “What do you make a week?" He said, “Oh, $500 or $600.” Well, at this time, Donald and I were making about $100 each. So I burst out laughing. He said, “What are you laughing at?" I said, “I thought you were a starving young man, and Donald and I wanted to offer you a job. Now I find that you're making more than the two of us put together.”

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