Nassim Nicholas Taleb hates bankers, academics, and journalists, but he was willing to sit down with Carole Cadwalladr of The Guardian:
And yet here he is, chatting away, surprisingly friendly and approachable. When I say as much as we walk to the restaurant, he asks, “What do you mean?”
“In your book, you’re quite…” and I struggle to find the right word, “grumpy”.
He shrugs. “When you write, you don’t have the social constraints of having people in front of you, so you talk about abstract matters.”
Social constraints, it turns out, have their uses. And he’s an excellent host. We go to his regular restaurant, a no-nonsense, Italian-run, canteen-like place, a few yards from his faculty in central Brooklyn, and he insists that I order a glass of wine.
“And what’ll you have?” asks the waitress.
“I’ll take a coffee,” he says.
“What?” I say. “No way! You can’t trick me into ordering a glass of wine and then have coffee.” It’s like flunking lesson #101 at interviewing school, though in the end he relents and has not one but two glasses and a plate of “pasta without pasta” (though strictly speaking you could call it “mixed vegetables and chicken”), and attacks the bread basket “because it doesn’t have any calories here in Brooklyn”.