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Posted April 20, 2006
Excerpts from a Whitney Radio Review by William O'Shaughnessy
¿Mr. Talese, whose earlier magazine pieces on Sinatra, DiMaggio and Floyd Patterson are the stuff of legend, has finally written about Gay Talese. The son and heir of a master tailor from Calabria who in his day used needle and thread to run up exquisite haberdashery ¿ Gay Talese now uses graceful words and elegant sentences ¿ as well as over 50 years of listening, questioning and observing ¿ to fashion a modern damn masterpiece of a book. Colorful characters abound. But Talese is clearly the star this time. A meticulous craftsman, he is somewhat famous (or infamous) for taking years to actually complete and deliver a manuscript. This one, which only took him 60 years to assemble, was well worth the wait. A relentless researcher and voracious gatherer of facts and textures, shades and tones, Talese¿s brilliance as an observer and interviewer is the foundation, the underpinning for his talent as a writer. You¿ve no doubt seen Gay Talese around town of an evening. He has a dazzling, powerful wife ¿ the former Nan Ahearn, a Westchester girl (Rye Country Day, Convent of the Sacred Heart and Manhattanville). She is an important publisher and he dresses like a fop and a dandy. Don¿t let the beautiful clothes fool you. Underneath the finery struts an American master of the written word. Funny thing about this book ¿ as you amble through ¿A Writer¿s Life¿ ¿ you never want the damn thing to end. You never want Gay Talese to end. Now, at last, we know who he is. Alfred A. Knopf is the publisher. It goes right on the shelf next to Breslin, Hamill, Mr. Cuomo, Saroyan, Jimmy Cannon ¿ and Gay Talese¿s other books. But this is the best one he¿s every done.¿
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