Books by Gay Talese

Gay Talese is known for his daring pursuit of "unreportable" stories, for his exhaustive research, and for his formally elegant style. These qualities, arguably, are the touchstones of the finest literary journalism. Talese is often cited as one of the fo

HIGH NOTES by Gay Talese
Released: Jan. 17, 2017

"A worthy collection that would have benefitted from further effort from the book's editor and publisher."
A short anthology of features from acclaimed newspaperman and magazine writer Talese (The Voyeur's Motel, 2016, etc.). Read full book review >
Released: July 12, 2016

"Undoubtedly creepy and unnerving but also an entirely compelling slice of seamy American life."
The disturbing private world of the sleaziest motel manager since Norman Bates. Read full book review >
A WRITER’S LIFE by Gay Talese
Released: April 25, 2006

"Talese shows in an amiably digressive way that this writer's life has comprised not just celebrity and success, but many false starts, failures and frustrations."
Veteran journalist Talese (Unto the Sons, 1992, etc.) revisits his youth and education. Read full book review >
UNTO THE SONS by Gay Talese
Released: Feb. 18, 1992

Over ten years in the making, Talese's latest was well worth the wait, and will certainly redeem his embarrassingly participatory foray into the sexual revolution in Thy Neighbor's Wife (1980). Incorporating fictional technique, Talese's massive genealogical tale has all the sweep and detail of a grand 19th- century novel. Talese here asks the simple question: How did his father, Joseph, a tailor trained in his small village in southern Italy, end up plying his trade in an equally remote town on the New Jersey shore? The answer is anything but simple and demands a look into the historical background of the great migrations of our century. Relying on family letters, diaries, and interviews, Talese views Italian history from the bottom up, charting the effect of major events on ordinary people. From occupation by Bourbon Kings and Napoleon to Garibaldi and the unification of the country, from intervention in WW I to the rise of Mussolini and Fascism—the south of Italy has always maintained its unique character, an odd combination of anarchic individualism and communal piety. The Talese family mostly hails from Maida, a small village not far from the tip of the Italian boot. And there, Talese's ancestors dwelt for centuries until the social breakdown of the modern world penetrated the region. While great-grandfather Domenico continued as the familial patriarch, he could no longer demand that his son remain in Italy. Gaetano, after whom the author is named, joined the search for remunerative labor in the New World, and found himself working construction in the bizarrely feudal town of Ambler, Pennsylvania. His wife became one of the ``white widows,'' those women who stayed behind with the children while their men worked overseas. From an early age, father-to-be Joseph filled his own head with dreams of emigration. His story is neatly juxtaposed with that of his cousin, Antonio, who fled the confining world of Maida for success as a tailor in Paris. But Joseph ventured further, eventually setting up shop among the stern Protestants of Ocean City, New Jersey, where his son grew up deracinated but always curious about his otherness. This stunning combination of history and autobiography is the perfect antidote to the operatic romanticism of The Godfather. It's a major contribution to the literature of diaspora. (Book-of-the- Month Main Selection for March) Read full book review >