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The Gay Talese Reader: Portraits and Encounters Paperback – October 1, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
If there is one fault in this wonderful and long overdue collection of nonfiction master Talese's magazine writings, it's that there is simply not enough. While this reader does not include selections from such bestselling books as The Kingdom and the Power (a look at the New York Times, where he was a reporter for 10 years), Honor Thy Father (his behind-the-scenes look at the Bonanno crime organization) or Thy Neighbor's Wife (his examination in the shift of sexual mores in the decades before AIDS), it does highlight writing from his 1993 bestselling book, Unto the Sons, which deals with his Italian-born father's journey to America. However, all of the essays collected here are priceless gems, including his classic profiles of 20th-century icons such as Joe DiMaggio ("The Silent Season of the Hero"); the recently departed George Plimpton and his Paris Review cohorts ("Looking for Hemingway"); and Frank Sinatra ("Frank Sinatra Has a Cold"), which was recently selected by Esquire as the greatest article in the magazine's 70-year history. While his previous anthology of essays, Fame & Obscurity, included his classic mid-1960s profile of legendary mobster Frank Costello, this one offers two beautiful essays on the writer's life: "When I Was Twenty-Five" and "Origins of a Nonfiction Writer." The stories here are shining examples of a time in publishing history when magazine writing was an art form and Talese its Michelangelo. This reader is a book to come back to again and again.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Talese is known, of course, as the author of such best-selling nonfiction as Honor Thy Father (1978) and Thy Neighbor's Wife (1980). But Talese, who was born in 1932 and published his first book in 1961, began his career as a journalist when he was but a lad, writing columns and feature-length articles for a weekly newspaper while in high school. After college, he joined the New York Times and continued crafting his own unique brand of nonfiction. This collection, drawn from works published between 1961 and 1997, includes profiles of such notables as Frank Sinatra, Peter O'Toole, and Joe Louis; a unique and charmingly eccentric portrait of New York City; several pieces of social satire; and a couple of autobiographical essays. It demonstrates all over again why Talese was at the forefront of what was once called New Journalism. His quirky, personal nonfiction, in which the author is very much a presence, helped spawn a whole new approach to feature writing. A sterling introduction to the multitalented Talese. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Top Customer Reviews
Another gem is his brief on Joe diMaggio.
I think Talese has written about half a dozen non- fiction pieces, all of which were new territory and all best sellers. There are two perfectly good reasons this is so, A. He is probablyour best living non-fiction writer and B. His 'take' on his subjects is compassionate, comprehensive and without bias.
This anthology is a good starting point for initiates to Telese's work, though I would have liked some excerpts from his more famous longer works, such as `Honor Thy Father' or `Thy Neighbor's Wife'. Still this collection is so good, it's liable to make you want to run out and buy these other works to enjoy them in their entirety.
Each essay winnowed to an exquisite sketch, conveying the complexity of a life so poetically. A few of the essays are merely quite good but several are brilliant distillations. And who knew that boxers are such interesting people? I certainly didn't.
A joy to read.