It was an era when books still mattered. For Picano, who arrived there in 1971 as a would-be novelist with rent to pay, Rizzoli, with its rococo chandeliers, marble floors, and lavish Italian shelves, was the stage for a series of glamorous encounters that fuel his lovely bagatelle of a memoir, Nights at Rizzoli (OR Books). Where else would you encounter Maria Callas, outfitted with a glittery clutch as though “she had been dropped through the ceiling for a Richard Avedon fashion shoot,” or find yourself the object of Philip Johnson’s amorous advances one night, and Salvador Dalí’s another?

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