D. Keith Mano - It is as if Joyce, for his sins, had been forced to grow up in Queens; as if Beckett had been mugged by Godot in a Flushing comfort station; as if Sid Caesar played the part of Moby-Dick in a Roman Polanski movie shot underwater in Long Island City; as if Heidegger had gone into vaudeville and... never mind

D. Keith Mano, Take Five, Dalkey Archive Press, 1998.

Welcome to the world of Simon Lynxx and to one of the great overlooked novels of the 1980s. Con-man, filmmaker (currently working on producing “Jesus 2001″, what he calls the religious equivalent of The Godfather, best known for his movie “The Clap That Took Over the World”), descendent of a wealthy and prestigious New York family whose wealth and prestige are on a sharp decline, racist and anti-Semite (though Simon dislikes all ethnic groups equally), possessor of never-satisfied appetites (food, women, drink, but most of all, money and more money), and the fastest talker since Falstaff, Simon is on a quest that goes backwards.
Through the course of this 600-page novel, Simon loses, one by one, all of his senses (taste is lost when trying to siphon off gasoline for his roving, broken-down production van), ending in a state of complete debilitation in which he is being made ready for eternity and salvation.
As energy packed as a William Gaddis novel and as rich in language as a Shakespearean play, Take Five is a modern masterpiece that is at once a celebration of life and a morality play on excess, as though anticipating the self-indulgent “me generation” of the decade.

Mano (The Death and Life of Harry Goth, Horn) still hasn't really found a steady focus for his exuberant, caustic verballismo; this very long, very dense novel repeats itself, sags periodically, and never lives up to its grandiose blueprint. But. . . it's funny, laugh-out-loud funny a lot of the time--and that's nothing to sneeze at, even if Mano-vian humor continues to be off-limits for those unsettled by sex-jokes, Jesus jokes, ethnic jokes, or scatology. The source of all this hilarious foulness is Simon Lynxx, a non-original but grandly cumulative creation: the total sum of every abusive, narcissistic, selfish creep in comedy--from Volpone to Sheridan Whiteside to Don Rickles. Simon, you see, is a filmmaker (The Clap That Took Over the World, Diner), and he's broke again, without the funds needed to continue work on Jesus 2001. (""I have something in mind like Truffaut's Day for Night, but without the frog mannerisms. Get it? Huh? Or am I talking to a piece of wallboard?"") So Mano follows Simon's picaresque pursuit of cash--a pursuit which causes him to lose each of his five senses, one by one, in slapsticky accidents (the novel, by the way, is paginated backwards); and since Simon travels, in his film-co, van, with a female/Jewish/homosexual production team, there's lots of bigot-buffa to fill in between adventures. Some samples of Simon's fund-raising schemes: he returns to loot his ancestral manse--Van Lynxx Manor in Bayside, Queens--but finds that it's been donated to the Landmarks Commission (15 black schoolkids on a tour encounter the naked Simon in the Martha Washington bedroom); he becomes a courtesan, dressing up as a tango-dancer to service an elderly, addled matron; he renames his film Jesus 3X, puts on blackface, and tries to get Minority Incentive funding (""I gonna need more than six tits an' a clean sheet. Jesus 3X is a major minority flick""); he hires two black pals to mug old movie-titan Herman Wolff, so that Simon can save Wolff and cash in on gratitude. (Wolff comes across, but Simon has to dish up a new scenario: ""I've just ransacked North Banality for a four-Kleenex screen treatment. . . Dogs and little boys. Crippled little boys."") And when Simon also tries to seduce an heiress--""you, my tiny side order of spaetzle, you have a great face""--it's a case of mistaken identity that leads him, slowly, to true-love Merry, a wearisome philosophy major. Heard enough? Well, there's lots more: Simon's trysting with van groupie Mrs. Minnie Fischer, she of the bronze bas-relief-cum-chastity-belt; the sexual fate of Minnie's teenage son; Simon's memories of his grotesque parents, with family secrets to be revealed; send-ups of the media, artsy and otherwise; etc. And, throughout, there's that loss-of-the-senses framework--which, though never leaned on pretentiously, does eventually take on some (if not enough) resonance: Simon is left a zombie/vegetable, loved by Merry but otherwise destroyed by his dubious art-quest. As a parable of the artist's fate? Half-baked. As a bravura mega-fiction? Richly uneven. But as a showcase for Mano's comedy--the allusive lancings, the verbal vaudeville, the thesaurus of insults, the scenic invention--this is just fine: if you're not easily offended, you'll be easily, repeatedly blasted into fits of shamefaced laughter. - Kirkus Reviews

IT is as if James Joyce, for his sins, had been forced to grow up in Queens; as if Sam Beckett had been mugged by Godot in a Flushing comfort station; as if Sid Caesar played the part of Moby-Dick in a Roman Polanski movie shot underwater in Long Island City; as if Martin Heidegger had gone into vaudeville and ... never mind. Just boggle.
D. Keith Mano used to show up with a novel almost as often as the children come home with report cards. ''Take Five,'' however, took him nine years. It is long enough for three ordinary novels and seems even longer because, second of all, it is paginated backward, and, firstly, every bone of it is scrimshawed. There isn't a word that hasn't been tattooed. It weighs on the eyes. And it seems to be trying to offend every race, color and creed.
Meet Simon Linxx. He is 6 feet 3, sometimes in a burnoose, sometimes in a gorilla suit, and believes himself to be descended from the Dutch who inexplicably decided to squat in surprising Bayside. His father had a radio program, his mother sucked his blood, and he wants to make a movie, ''Jesus 2001,'' in which the Three Wise Men get off the D train and Christ is either an epileptic or a drug addict or ''lead guitar with a group called the Gadarene Swine.''
Making movies is expensive. For most of ''Take Five,'' Simon tries to raise money. He will be, variously, black and Jewish and Spanish Republican. He will talk incessantly about sex and not get any. He will lose, one by one, all five of his senses, beginning with ''the fire in your mouth.'' When he falls, too late, in love, she will be a priest, and the cross she wears will be abstract, ''Jesus crucified, expressing Cubist pain.''
Simon despises abstractions. Nor does he believe in history: ''He hasn't seen it.'' He can't understand stillness: ''It is, to him, not viable.'' He is fast, ''but he has never yet been spontaneous.'' He hates laws and fears madness and treats everyone like a Polish joke. ''I don't have many friends, but my enemies are very careful.'' Not even Sweden is safe: ''The gross national product is hypocrisy and nudist volleyball.'' He thinks of himself as ''the fullness of time,'' ''a sweeping generalization,'' ''the eye of America'' and ''the origin of the species.'' He is, we will learn, ''dying of perception,'' of a ''cancer of the impressions.'' A woman who loves him asks, ''Who writes your material, Sophocles?''
A novel as demanding and resonant as ''Take Five'' needs explaining, and the explaining will use up too much space. But before we get at it, this should be said: More than half of ''Take Five'' is hilarious, even when it is vile. Mr. Mano speaks in many tongues, all of them vipers. What he tells us about Hollywood, the art world, Episcopalianism, homosexuality, Jewish motherhood, black huckstering, Eastern religion, Queens night life, Freud - ''a Viennese fortune cookie'' - and white dwarves is savage, but it is also very, very funny. You will laugh, and then feel guilty about it.
In this particular gear, Mr. Mano is Tom Wolfe and Hunter S. Thompson and Henderson the Rain King. He dances to scourge. Of course, Simon as a boy will have a dog and of course the dog will be a paranoid German shepherd whose name is Von Ribbentrop. Of course, the name of the priest he loves is Merry, and he will call her ''Lamb Chop of God.'' Of course, God will call off his game with Isaac: ''Whistle. Time out. Coach Yahweh wants to make a substitution: Abraham in foul trouble.'' Such humor is black, like the holes in the universe.
But Mr. Mano will do more than dance on our heads. ''Take Five'' is a novel of identity: Who is Simon, and why do his parents hate him? (Alert readers are reminded of the Gospel according to St. Luke.) It is a novel about 300 years of American history, a low-budget movie singing the song of assimilation. It is a novel about art, especially modernist art; its many parodies, puns and anagrams serve as a thesis on the nature of metaphor and play.
Not by accident does young Simon find speaking difficult; his tongue will need a knife; he will become a child again. Not by accident is the primitive Alf tattooed as a bestiary: ''Eagle, lion, bull, snake, griffin, toad, shark, mosquito: The magic of pleistocene hunters: No human picture here.'' The games Mr. Mano plays with names and point of view, with contact lenses, are quite serious. (I don't, I admit, understand his obsession with umbrellas.)
Finally, though, ''Take Five'' is a novel about grace. Simon has sinned enough to be a saint. His very excess is a kind of innocence. He is passionate enough to deserve God. His changes of personality and identity -as though Melville and Thomas Mann had collaborated on a confidence man - are conversions and purifications according to the script written by Christian mystics. In losing his senses he gains his soul. His Uncle Arthur, the most likable character in the book, speaks of ''the terrible attempt to silence the sensual faculties and drop into an absolute blackness of knowing. A total letting go.''
The last 40 pages of ''Take Five,'' as we fall toward zero, depict salvation as persuasively as Joyce did damnation in ''Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.'' That is Mr. Mano's reversible point. Art is not enough. This is a difficult, astonishing, almost wicked gospel. -  John Leonard   http://www.nytimes.com/1982/04/30/books/books-of-the-times-100419.html

I met Keith Mano at a writers workshop when he was about to launch this book. I sat at a reading he gave and was blown away by the sheer genius and power of his writing. I was at a week-long writers workshop held at the University of Rochester in 1981. Mano was the other author there to hold fiction workshops — I was in the fiction workshop held by Helen Iglesias.
Mano quickly got a rep for being “arrogant” and difficult in his workshop — challenging the fledgling writers, being sarcastic at times, direct, giving them homework. The first time I saw him, he marched through an afternoon talk being given by one of the founders of the workshop, an editor from a NYC publisher, interrupting to address some problem (I think he felt his workshop was overcrowded). What a jerk, I thought.
At the end-of-day cocktail hour held each day, I sat with one of my fellow workshop members; both of us shared the rumors we’d heard about D. Keith Mano. He ended up wandering over to where we were sitting and struck up a conversation with Edie, my new writer friend. I listened to him talking about the pain of writing. “It’s like vomiting blood for me,” he said. I snickered. He noticed.
He turned and smiled at me, like a snake ready to strike. “And what is writing for you?” he asked. “A HOBBY?”
Although I was a grown woman with four children, I reacted to this in a way that surprised both of us. I stuck my tongue out at him, like I was in grammar school. But before I could feel embarrassed for being a dork, he burst out laughing. “OH my god — that was so cute! Do that again!” — And we three had a great time talking. He wasn’t an ogre after all.
Every evening of the 5-day workshop, one of the participating authors would give a reading from their work. I couldn’t miss the one by Mano — a group of us (all women) sat in the front row. Most of them were loaded for bear, ready to dislike him. (The Playboy aspect of his career had a bit to do with it, I suspect.)
I’ll never forget that evening. In his reading, I heard a voice like no other. The energy in the writing made my head spin. The comedic parts were brilliant and hilarious. It was outrageous. Raw and inappropriate. But I was seduced by Simon, the main character – a man raging against life and God, yet as vulnerable as a broken arm with a compound fracture.
Some women walked out of the reading, feeling his book was misogynistic and crude. I stayed for the whole thing. The room cleared when he finished, leaving just Edie and I to go up to Mano to comment. And this author (and senior writer for Playboy, and columnist for National Review, and author of 6 other novels) was feeling as rejected as a first-timer. The three of us ended up going out for drinks and having a fantastic time, talking and laughing.
Take Five is not an easy read — the fact that it is paginated backward, the loss of senses of his main character in fairly gruesome ways, and the particular style Mano used in using serial colons. At the end of it, you are left to wonder — if a man loses all five senses, how does he know if he still exists inthis world?
I loved this book. A work of genius. - Marci Diehl

The hero as foulmouth is evidently a side effect of the new American middle-class puritanism, which thrives on being nonjudgmental verbally and is prissy on every topic except sex. So appalling is the unctuous discourse of everyday life, it is no wonder the novelists turn, through their protagonists, toward a vocabulary of obscenity and insult. The problem is once you’ve set up your profane and blasphemous hero, what do you do with him? An apparent solution—not particularly happy, but perhaps the best available—is to discover beneath his rough and bristling exterior that old cornball standby, the heart of gold. One is half ashamed even to mention it. Here we are creeping up on the twenty-first century, and we have nothing to fall back on except a convention that was hackneyed in the sixteenth.
Take Five by D. Keith Mano presents an unusual set of imbalances. It is painfully hard to get into and much too easy to get out of. The reader will be fore-warned to expect a certain number of infantile tricks from the fact that the book’s pages are numbered backward and the book’s chapters in reverse order; i.e., one begins at Book V, Chapter 7, and works remorselessly down the numerical scale. The “hero” also degenerates from a blustering, rambunctious, brutal exhibitionist to an insensible, impotent, incontinent bundle of infirmities. We are supposed to find him a good deal more attractive in his later stages than in his earlier ones; but it will be someone more patient than the average reader who puts up with the improbable antics of his prime long enough to appreciate the eloquent account of the last stages of his decline.
Simon Van Lynxx (the name alone warns us to expect a novel of caricature) is set before us as a genius movie producer with two award-winning shorts and a number of turkeys to his credit; surrounded by a menagerie of pickup associates, he inhabits a large van parked somewhere in the outskirts of New York City. His current project, for which he hasn’t bothered to write a script (or, in the cant of his trade, a “treatment”) is a pop-satiric version of the Gospels, Jesus 2001. Perhaps fortunately, filming of this epic never gets any further than a few pictures of a recalcitrant donkey carrying a more than dubious virgin and child down a garden path. For Simon is too much of a genius to bother with getting anything organized, and too busy with his own noisy, zany buffoonery to give anyone else the benefit of half a sentence. If he is an artist at all, he is a put-down artist; his loud mouth is stored with a rich assortment of racist and sexist slurs, plus an unfailing plethora of miscellaneous abuse for special occasions. He is a one-man Cloaca Maxima, Don Rickles with delusions of grandeur; and discharging all this contempt in a steady stream of one-liners leaves him little chance to display anything like the metaphorical genius that is… - Robert M. Adams   http://www.nybooks.com/articles/1982/06/10/shyster-saints/

I knew D. Keith Mano long before I met him. My family first subscribed to National Review in 1969. Mano’s regular column, “The Gimlet Eye,” appeared in 1972. His mandate, described by WFB, was “to go about seeking strange and remarkable things.” This he did, for 17 years, writing a thousand words in every issue — two or three columns in a row, punctuated by a book review. He was, I would argue, the best writer to appear regularly in NR. WFB at his best was unbeatable, but his ubiquity pulled at his batting average. James J. Kilpatrick’s presidential-campaign pieces, beautiful and wise, came and went like comets. Garry Wills and Florence King (this must be the first sentence in history to include them both) shone. But for sustained energy, issue after issue, Mano won the gold. Journalism tracks change, for every day brings something new. But journalism also relies on the familiarity of repeating frameworks, or features, whether they be columns, cartoons, or centerfolds. Mano thrived on the push/pull of this regimen. I took a bound volume from NR’s library shelf, 1975, and read (reread) every one of his pieces. The book reviews come closest to being dutiful, but even they sparkle. Myron, by Gore Vidal: “Gore Vidal is such a bitch” (Mano liked a strong lede). Humboldt’s Gift, by Saul Bellow, “gets its talkative, awkward form from its genre: It belongs, with Crockett’s or Franklin’s autobiography, to confessional not novelistic literature.” Of The Connoisseur, by Evan S. Connell, Mano asks, Why do we collect? “To share the thing’s strength, its age, its creator’s talents, as cannibals collect brave human hearts?” Mano could listen. Here is Robert, a 15-year-old street magician. “A blind man approaches,” Mano writes, “and I aim two dimes at his cup. Robert intercepts my throw. ‘He sees better than I do. You can tell when they’re faking, with their pupils all rolled up.’” Here is an executive for public-access television, on those who make use of his service: “One man took a record of Ezio Pinza singing ‘Some Enchanted Evening’ and lip-synched himself to it. The whole business is frustrating and silly and sad.” Occasionally Mano did impressions; his favorite fake voice was a ruder version of himself, talking Queens. Outer-borough Mano buys a card that identifies him as a Talent Scout, and reads the accompanying packet. “‘If you are a red blooded male’ (me for sure) ‘or female and are eager to make money and have fun meeting beautiful women and photographing them . . . even in the Nude.’ That kept coming up. And I liked the way they put a capital N on it, like it was Peoria, or Des Moines, made it seem even Nuder.” Over and over, he described. A crowd at an Upper West Side synagogue, waiting to hear Abba Eban. “You’ve seen them before: From park benches on a sunlit afternoon they captain those squat, barge-prowed islands in the middle of Broadway.” Bella Abzug, a raucous far-left congresswoman. “Grossness is a tool, used as Belle Barth [a Sixties comedienne] used grossness. To shock. After all, what you can’t cosmetize must be made a virtue.” Mano visits Miami Beach. “Beaches are a savage hoax. . . . Read? Pages snowblind, one might as well read the wattage on a lit bulb. Sleep? The sheets are never changed. Cigarette butts bristle, filter end up. Beaches are sand-filled marble ashtrays from some gigantic hotel lobby.” Divorce. “Out my way a male black-widow spider has better odds of survival in marriage. I can count eight couples uncoupled or uncoupling in 1974, about a third of our acquaintance. When they visit us by halves, we sterilize the glasses afterward. It’s a virus, I think: Gauze masks are recommended.” Transcendental meditation. “They pass around a pamphlet full of bar graphs, where TM initiates stand out like the World Trade Center next to a Greenwich Village brownstone on scientific skylines.” Marian visions in Bayside. “For more than five years now, two or three times a month, the Virgin Mary has been visiting Mrs. Veronica Lueken. That’s pretty good: I don’t even have friends who visit me that often.” Republicans in Manhattan. “I thought they got stored away with the Christmas balls: those rapt, secure faces you see fox-trotting to Guy Lombardo on New Year’s Eve. They look most at home in cardboard hats, all webbed up with paper streamers like Laocoön and his immediate family.” Overeaters. “Obesity makes drug addiction look like thumb-sucking. A trifle. You can give up heroin cold, but you can’t give up food. Every third TV commercial is a pusher.” Pre-season football workouts. “This is the awful time, windsprint time. Some scream while they run, getting a jump on their agony. Nostrils shear with inbreath; throat linings come apart.” Church bingo. “The numbers come, come. Women of seventy shame me. There’s a cortisone in bingo that frees arthritic joints. One old woman who can hardly walk plays five dozen cards at once, broadcasting chips, dabbing with her marker bottle, fast, sure as a Benihana chef.” Pornography. Mano was cast in a 16mm skin flick once. “Then the director put me on a hard-boiled-egg diet to lose ten pounds in ten days. It was only after the 15th hard-boiled egg that morality asserted itself. I quit and had three club sandwiches on the way home.” And finally, in 1975’s 20th-anniversary issue, there was an inserted parody of NR, edited by Mano. One of the bogus letters to the editor scolded “The Gimlet Eye.” “D. Keith Mano’s Gimlet Eye, ‘Chickie on the LIRR,’ was a shameless outrage,” wrote Betty Prole. “The teenagers of Baldwin, L.I., do not — repeat, do not — stand on railroad tracks to see who will ‘chicken out’ first. The sordid fact is that Mr. Mano paid my son, John, and his friend Peter five dollars apiece to stand in front of the 6:15 express from Penn Station.” Mano ran a family business in Queens, which made expandable cement, but his vocation was art. He went to Columbia and Cambridge, studying with Lionel Trilling and F. R. Leavis (a path also trod by Norman Podhoretz). He wrote a string of novels, culminating in Take Five (1982), a 600-page showpiece. The book had an intimidating reputation. NR gave it to the critic Hugh Kenner to review. Kenner, who read Pound’s Cantos with ease, was late with his copy. What had Mano done? When I took the plunge, years later, I found it, after two gnarly opening pages, to be easy reading, in the best sense: lively, fresh, flowing. The picaresque hero is Simon Lynxx, an indie filmmaker from Queens (almost-Mano again) who is trying to fund a movie about Jesus’ sex life. He encounters a plethora of mishaps and characters (two of them based on real New Yorkers: Andy Warhol and Bishop Paul Moore, a once-prominent liberal Episcopalian). A deeper plot gradually takes over as Lynxx loses his senses one by one, finally left only with grace. Mano wrote a lighter, late novel, Topless, about an Episcopal priest inheriting a topless bar. He sold it to Hollywood as a one-sentence treatment, with the hook that Tom Cruise play the priest. The movie never got made, but Mano made a nice payday. For the book party he hired a strip club at the foot of the Empire State Building and stood at the door, giving guests dollar bills to tip the dancers. Mano was as interested in sex as Donald Trump is, and far more interesting about it. Late in life, he experienced a shift: He told me he prayed every night for the women who worked in bars and clubs: “They lead a hard life.” Keith was warm, generous, and funny; his marriage to actress Laurie Kennedy blessed them both. He had a hard life writing, though. Talent often comes accompanied by anxiety, which is why so many writers drink, smoke, or practice magic. Kipling had to have certain knick-knacks on his desk, arranged just so, before he could produce. Keith produced systems that relieved stress by limiting choice. He had a set of rules for writing, which he never fully explained to me; the point was to avoid similar constructions in adjacent sentences. He did explain his rules for reading: He pulled books blindly from a bag. One source for the bag was the Strand, the great used-book store below Union Square. Keith would visit it with a pair of dice; the first throw picked the aisle, the second the shelf, the third the order in from the end of the book he would buy. You must have got some odd ones, I said. An Indian five-year plan from 1959, he answered. You read the whole thing? I asked. There were lots of charts, he said. Keith, Keith, you could have begun every sentence with “I think that . . .” and they still would have flashed. And I will never have to roll dice to come back to your wonderful words. - Richard Brookhiser  https://www.nationalreview.com/magazine/2016-11-07-0000/d-keith-mano-national-review

D. Keith Mano, a onetime Shakespearean actor and self-described “Christian pornographer” who wrote provocative novels about the struggle for faith and who was a popular columnist for National Review, died Sept. 14 at a New York City hospital. He was 74.
He had complications from Parkinson’s disease, said his wife, Laurie Kennedy.
In the 1960s and 1970s, Mr. Mano (pronounced MANN-oh) was considered one of the country’s most promising young writers, publishing six novels in as many years, each filled with vivid writing and heady ideas.
He wrote from an avowedly conservative Christian perspective as a practicing Episcopalian before growing disenchanted and abandoning the faith, in part because he refused to take communion from a female priest. From 1972 to 1989, he also wrote a column of wide-ranging cultural commentary, “The Gimlet Eye,” for National Review, the conservative magazine founded by William F. Buckley Jr.
“Week in, week out, Mano was the best writer this, or any American magazine has had, for the last 50 years,” Richard Brookhiser, a senior editor of National Review, wrote in 2005.
Mr. Mano was long captivated by the battle between good and evil that is a central element of Christianity. He addressed weighty subjects such as war and peace, but he also wrote in explicit terms about sexuality, body functions, pornography, strip clubs and other subjects not typically featured in the Christian literary canon.
“I have the honor of being the one person that [Dr.] Ruth Westheimer says is too dirty for her to talk to,” he said in a 1994 interview with the now-defunct magazine the Wittenburg Door.
In Mr. Mano’s 1969 novel “Horn,” a pudgy white Episcopal priest is placed in all kinds of compromising positions while serving as the pastor of a predominantly African American church in Harlem during the height of the black power movement. In “The Proselytizer” (1972), Mr. Mano examined the hypocrisy of a sexually ravenous television evangelist in graphic detail.
The dystopian 1973 novel “The Bridge” is set largely in the 21st century, when environmental laws have forbidden killing of any kind — leading the human race into a form of voluntary suicide. (Reviewers for the New York Times and the Jesuit publication America both called it “repellent.”)
Mr. Mano spent nine years writing his next novel, “Take Five” (1982), a political and religious satire in which the 583 pages are numbered backward. During the course of the ambitious novel, the central character, a would-be filmmaker, loses all five of his senses.
Mr. Mano “seems to be trying to offend every race, color and creed,” critic John Leonard wrote in the Times. “It is as if James Joyce, for his sins, had been forced to grow up in Queens; as if Sam Beckett had been mugged by Godot in a Flushing comfort station; as if Sid Caesar played the part of Moby-Dick in a Roman Polanski movie shot underwater in Long Island City; as if Martin Heidegger had gone into vaudeville and . . . never mind. Just boggle.”
It was also, Leonard noted, “hilarious, even when it is vile.”
David Keith Mano was born Feb. 12, 1942, in New York. His father ran a family business, X-Pando Corp., which manufactures building materials.
As a student at Columbia University, Mr. Mano rebelled against what he saw as the prevailing secular liberalism of the intellectual world. After one class, he told the Columbia Daily Spectator in 1976, “I went over to St. Paul’s Chapel, and said, ‘If that’s the way the world is, I’d better turn to God.’ ”
After graduating in 1963, Mr. Mano studied at the University of Cambridge in England, where he began acting. He spent a year in the mid-1960s touring the United States with a Shakespearean theater company and worked for several years at his family’s company.
From 1968 to 1973, Mr. Mano published a novel each year, inviting comparison to Joyce Carol Oates and other rising literary stars of the time. After “Take Five,” he published only one other novel, “Topless,” in 1990. In that book, an Episcopal priest leaves his suburban church in Nebraska to take over a New York strip club managed by his brother, who has disappeared.
“My occupation hasn’t changed,” the priest says at one point, describing his relationship with the women in his employ. “I am still a pastor, still an authority figure. I still have a congregation that comes to me for advice. In fact, it’s the same stupid confessions, hassles, pretty much.”
From the 1960s to the 1990s, when he developed Parkinson’s disease, Mr. Mano attended almost every Columbia football game, home and away, even though the team seldom won a game. He sometimes tried to rally the hapless troops by reciting stirring passages from Shakespeare.
His first marriage, to Jo McArthur, ended in divorce. Survivors include his wife of 36 years, actress Laurie Kennedy, who had recurring roles in the TV series “Homicide: Life on the Street” and “Law & Order,” of New York; two sons from his first marriage; and four grandchildren.
Over the years, as a freelance journalist, Mr. Mano said he interviewed people who practiced incest and others who may have been cannibals. He underwent hypnosis, pretended to be an alcoholic, entered a mental institution as a patient and lived briefly as a cross-dresser.
For a classically trained actor with staunch religious beliefs — he eventually joined the Eastern Orthodox church — Mr. Mano adapted easily to the high-octane writing style of Playboy, Oui and other men’s magazines to which he often contributed.
“When your prose is in direct visual competition with soft, nubile young women all set for some antic hay,” he wrote, “you better talk loud, brother.” -