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In appreciation: Ann Arensberg

The first time a representative of the New York publishing world paid me the slightest bit of attention was when Ann Arensberg, an actual editor at the actual Viking Press, invited me to lunch at Luchow’s,  that cavernous German restaurant near Union Square.

I’m sure she chose that picturesque but fundamentally ridiculous restaurant because she knew it was close to the national offices of the Amalgamated Clothing Workers, where I had a 9-to-5 job.

We both ordered the wiener schnitzel, and when I mentioned something about potato pancakes, Ann reminded me that Viking Press was paying for lunch and that perhaps we should have the potato pancakes as an appetizer. A publisher was putting food in my mouth! How extraordinary! It was like a dream for me.

And to be there in that insane restaurant with someone so elegant, so capable of throaty, complicit laughter.  She gossiped with me as if I was not a recent arrival from the Midwest working in the linoleum scented offices of a dying union, but a writer on the cusp of recognition.

We never got to work together — but I have always thought of Ann as the editor who launched my career.

Scott Spencer


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