Gay Talese’s new book The Voyeur’s Motel has garnered some well-earned bad press after its source was discredited. But was it any good? , Alexandra Molotkow argues that to be worth reading, Talese would have had to offer some measure of reflection:
In the winter of 1965, writer Gay Talese arrived in Los Angeles with an assignment from Esquire to profile Frank Sinatra. The legendary singer was approaching fifty, under the weather, out of sorts, and unwilling to be interviewed. So Talese remained in L.A., hoping Sinatra might recover and reconsider, and he began talking to many of the people around Sinatra—his friends, his associates, his family, his countless hangers-on—and observing the man himself wherever he could. The result, "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold," ran in April 1966 and became one of the most celebrated magazine stories ever published, a pioneering example of what came to be called New Journalism—a work of rigorously faithful fact enlivened with the kind of vivid storytelling that had previously been reserved for fiction. The piece conjures a deeply rich portrait of one of the era's most guarded figures and tells a larger story about entertainment, celebrity, and America itself.
The New York Times always seems to have a star of the moment. For the last few weeks, the role has been played by Bill Keller, who lit up the Internet with a before announcing he would step down as executive editor. With Friday’s release of , the attention will no doubt shift to David Carr, who seems just as comfortable being the story as he does reporting it. But at a discussion about the film last night at the TimesCenter, even with Keller and Carr onstage, the star of the panel was a reporter who hasn’t worked for the Times in more than 40 years: Gay Talese.