Saturday, May 30, 2009

A Writer's Life

Truth be told, I'm a total junkie for works that reveal glimpses into the creative process whether it be books, documentaries, etc. I'm currently reading "A Writer's Life" by Gay Talese (left). Primarily best known as author/journalist and one of the founding fathers of the "new journalism" school of reporting, Talese helped mold a style during the mid-sixties wherein the writer's almost fiction-esque, imaginative, descriptive slant became an integral part of the reporting without ever compromising the integrity of the facts.

Part autobiography, part window into the process of his craft, "A Writer's Life" finds Talese talking candidly about his hits and, interestingly much more so, about his misses - the stories that got away; the pieces that, sometimes despite Talese's strong efforts/interests, could never quite make it to print. A fascinating and refreshing approach amid the current 'American Idol' zeitgeist which seems so steadfastly focused on "winners" and one's successes.

On a totally biased note, the thing I love most about Gay Talese (aside from his obvious writer's prowess) is that he personally embodies - at least for me - the literary sensibilities that have made him famous; the quintessential, impeccably dressed, thorough, typewriter at 8, martinis at 6, dinner at Elaine's,
old-school New York, creative dandy. High on style but with all the substance to match. At 77, a precious and rarefied animal in this ephemeral age of skinny jeans and Twitter fiends.

If you'd like to read the opening chapter of "A Writer's Life" it can be found here courtesy of Random House. If you're also so inclined, check out the seminal article Talese penned for Esquire Magazine, circa 1966,
on Frank Sinatra; considered by many to be one of the first "new journalism" pieces committed to print. Enjoy but be forewarned, if you're looking for 140 character, ADD fare you won't find it here. Thankfully the man beneath the Panama hat is a master of the artfully constructed run-on sentence.

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