The New New Journalism
Robert S. Boynton
Ted Conover
Richard Ben Cramer
Leon Dash
William Finnegan
Jonathan Harr
Alex Kotlowitz
Jon Krakauer
Jane Kramer
William Langewiesche
Adrian Nicole LeBlanc
Michael Lewis
Susan Orlean
Richard Preston
Ron Rosenbaum
Eric Schlosser
Gay Talese
Calvin Trillin
Lawrence Weschler
Lawrence Wright
News and ReviewsRobert S. BoyntonAbout the BookRobert S. BoyntonContactRobert S. BoyntonBuy The New New JournalismRobert S. Boynton
by Robert S. Boynton


           Tom Wolfe dubbed Gay Talese the founder of the New Journalism, but Talese himself has always been uneasy with the label. It isn't difficult to understand why. His style doesn't have the rhetorical braggadocio of Tom Wolfe's or Hunter S. Thompson's. Wolfe's and Thompson's principal contributions were amped-up, flamboyant adventures—producing a distorted, if amusing, view of the world—while Talese's legacy is more purely journalistic.
           Talese represents a parallel tradition within the New Journalism. His legacy is twofold. First, he is the indefatigable reporter whose books and articles are the product of extensive research. Second, he is the poet of the commonplace, the writer who demonstrated that one could write great literary nonfiction about the "ordinary"— whether ordinary people who discover themselves in extraordinary circumstances, or the ordinary lives of extraordinary people.
           If the aim of most New Journalism is to write so vividly and report in such intense bursts that a scene leaps from the page, Talese goes in the other direction. He slowly drills down through the mundane subterranean reality of human existence to its "fictional" core. "I believe that if you go deep enough into characters they become so real that their stories feel like make-believe. They feel like fiction. I want to evoke the fictional current that flows beneath the stream of reality," he says.
           Talese was born in 1932 to Catherine DePaolo and Joseph Talese, an Italian tailor who immigrated to America and settled in Ocean City, New Jersey. Talese was the sports editor of The Crimson White at the University of Alabama, and was hired as a copy boy by The New York Times in 1953 Talese wrote wrote two books in the nine years he worked there: New York: A Serendipiter's Journey (1961) and The Bridge (1964), about the building of the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge.
           At magazines like Esquire, Talese found he could experiment at greater length than at the Times. He wrote a series of pieces for Esquire —now famous profiles, collected in Fame and Obscurity (1970). His 1966 article "The Kingdoms, the Powers, and the Glories of The New York Times" convinced him that a larger book, a "human history" of the paper was worth writing, and The Kingdom and the Power (1969) was a surprise hit.
           Honor Thy Father (1971) told the story of Bill Bonanno, the son of Mafia boss Joe Bonanno. His "fly on the wall" approach was put to the test by the fact that during the six years Talese followed Bonanno, there were long periods when his father was in hiding and Bonanno Jr. was the target of Mafia hitmen.
           Talese's most notorious book was Thy Neighbor's Wife (1980), a study of sexuality in America. While reporting it Talese managed two massage parlors, and lived at a nudist commune in California.
           In 1991, Knopf paid Talese $7 million for his next three books. Unto the Sons (1992), the first volume, traces Talese's family name back to the fourteenth century. In the second volume, Talese is revisiting all his stories—the Verrazano Bridge, The New York Times, the Mafia, American sexuality. As he told the New York Daily News: "My story is always escaping to other people."



BOOKS

The Silent Season of a Hero: The Sports Writing of Gay Talese, Walker & Company
buy
buy
A Writer's Life, Knopf, 2006
buy
buy
The Gay Talese Reader: Portraits & Encounters, Walker & Company, 2003
buy
buy
Writing Creative Nonfiction: The Literature of Reality, (with Barbara Lounsberry), HarperCollins, 1996
buy
buy
Unto the Sons, Knopf, 1992
buy
buy
Honor Thy Father, World, 1971
buy
buy
Fame and Obscurity: Portraits, World, 1970
buy
buy
The Kingdom and the Power, World, 1969
buy
buy
The Overreachers, Harper & Row, 1965
buy
buy
The Bridge, Harper & Row, 1964; Walker & Company, 2003
buy
buy
New York: A Serendipiter’s Journey, Harper & Row, 1961
buy
buy

ARTICLES

" “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold" (Annotated Version)", Nieman Storyboard, October 8, 2013

"Profile: Joe Girardi", The New Yorker, September 24, 2012

"High Notes: Tony Bennett in the studio—with Lady Gaga.", The New Yorker, September 19, 2011

"Past Lives: The Many Incarnations of 206 East Sixty-third Street", The New Yorker, July 25, 2011

"My Vertical Land Grab", New York Magazine, April 3, 2011

"Talk of the Town: Basta", The New Yorker, May 31, 2010

"Once Around the Island With Gay Talese", The New York Times, July 2, 2009

"A New Journalist's Suggestions for Daily Journalists", River Teeth, Fall 2008/Spring 2009

"When Panhandlers Need a Wordsmith’s Touch", The New York Times, February 17, 2009

"Norman Mailer (1923-2007)", Entertainment Weekly, December 28, 2007/January 4, 2008

"The Scion, the Stitch, and the Wardrobe", Vanity Fair online, August 27, 2007

"Our Local Correspondents: On the Bridge", The New Yorker, December 2, 2002

"Writing About Ordinary Lives", Nieman Reports, Spring 2002

"Boxing Fidel", Esquire, September 1996

"Chariots of Fire", Esquire, June 1996

"Elaine’s at 30: Something", The New York Times, April 25, 1993

"Where are the Italian-American Novelists?", The New York Times Book Review, March 14, 1993

"Brave-Faced Seekers at a Portal of Dreams", The New York Times, August 14, 1992

"Endangered Mafiosi, Running Short of High-Profile Villains", The Houston Chronicle, April 5, 1992

"A Last Blast From the Past", The New York Times, April 3, 1992

"Selma 1990: Old Faces and a New Spirit", The New York Times, March 7, 1990

"The Workout", The New York Times, September 16, 1984

"Eric and Beth Heiden: A Bond of Blood on Skates", The New York Times, February 10, 1980

"Image of the Mafia", The New York Times, October 5, 1971

"The Public and Private Wars of Harrison E. Salisbury", Esquire, May 1967

"Kingdoms, the Powers, and the Glories of The New York Times", Esquire, November 1966

"Silent Season of the Hero", Esquire, July 1966

"Frank Sinatra Has a Cold", Esquire, April 1966

"Mr. Bad News", Esquire, February 1966

"The Soft Psyche of Joshua Logan", Esquire,

"Sinatra Means a Jumping Jilly’s", The New York Times, July 10, 1965

"The Walk Through Selma", The New York Times, March 10, 1965

"Beauty Suspended", The New York Times, November 15, 1964

"Washington Square Park: Melting Pot of the Village", The New York Times, June 8, 1964

"The King as a Middle-Aged Man", Esquire, 1962

"Suspicious Man in the Champ’s Corner", The New York Times, September 23, 1962

"They Are Not Chicken", The New York Times, September 9, 1962

"Political Walkathons and Talkathons", The New York Times, October 29, 1961

"Diamonds Are a Boy’s Best Friend", The New York Times, October 1, 1961

"Portrait of the Ascetic Champ", The New York Times, March 5, 1961

"Miss Liberty—Uptown", The New York Times, October 2, 1960

"Counsel (Extraordinary) For the Defense", The New York Times, September 25, 1960

"Looking for Hemingway", Esquire, 1960

"New York, New York", Esquire, July 1960

"The Loser", Esquire, 1960

"Peter O’Toole on the Ould Sod", 1960

"VOGUEland", 1960

"The Party’s Over", 1960

"The Ethnics of Frank Costello", 1960

"Caddie: A Non-Alger Story", The New York Times, June 12, 1960

"The Bus Driver Answers His Critics", The New York Times, March 13, 1960

"The New Look in Mannequins", The New York Times, February 7, 1960

"The Big Bridge Grows Bigger", The New York Times, December 6, 1959

"Twenty Million Tattooed: Why?", The New York Times, November 22, 1959

"Portrait of a Boy Boxer", The New York Times, November 15, 1959

"Nothing Amazes the Via Veneto", The New York Times, July 19, 1959

"A Chauffeur with a Chauffeur Rode Boyish Dream to Fortune", The New York Times, April 17, 1959

"Impressionist Sketch of a Governor", The New York Times, March 29, 1959

"Hottest Fighter in Town", The New York Times, November 30, 1958

"The Occult Cult Flourishes", The New York Times, October 12, 1958

"About New York", The New York Times, September 24, 1958

"There Are Fans—And Yankee Fans", The New York Times, June 29, 1958

"Gray-Flannel-Suit Men at Bat", The New York Times, March 30, 1958

"Most-Hidden Hidden Persuasion", The New York Times, January 12, 1958

"Survey and Study of Our ‘Queens'", The New York Times, October 27, 1957

"About Telescopes: 61,000,000 of Them", The New York Times, September 29, 1957

"The Loneliest Guy in Boxing", The New York Times, September 15, 1957

"Frisbees, Yo-Yos, Goo-Goos, etc.", The New York Times, August 11, 1957

"Ohhhhh! Ahhhhh!", The New York Times, April 14, 1957

"Peter Prunty: Voice of the Past", The New York Times, March 17, 1957

"Journey into the Cat Jungle", The New York Times, March 12, 1957

"Jesse Owens, 42, and Still a Man in Motion", The New York Times, August 28, 1956

"Century by the Sea", The New York Times, August 26, 1956



Interviews and Reviews

Notes from an Underground Bunker, The New Yorker A fascinating video in which Gay Talese giconducts a tour of his office, October 2, 2012

Reflections of a narrative legend, in conversation with Esquire’s Chris Jones Gay Talese has a Coke, December 2, 2011

The Big Think interview with Gay Talese, September 29, 2009

The Paris Review interview with Gay Talese The Art of Nonfiction No. 2 Interviewed by Katie Roiphe, Issue 189, Summer 2009

Gay Talese talks to Men.Style.com about his love of suits, May 21, 2009

Gay Talese on Dressing the Part Big Think Interview, June 27, 2008

Gay Talese and New York Observer editor Peter Kaplan ponder the future of print journalism Bergdorf Goodman Magazine, Fall 2007

Cover to Cover with Richard Wolinsky Richard Wolinsky interviews Gay Talese, author of "A Writer's Life", July 6, 2006

Guest host Ken Auletta of "The New Yorker" talks with author Gay Talese, a former reporter for "The New York Times" about Talese's book "A Writer's Life" The Charlie Rose Show, May 19, 2006

Robert S. Boynton interviews Gay Talese Un fantasma prestigioso, El Malpensante, September/October 2005

“So What Do You Do, Gay Talese?” Media Bistro, April 27, 2004

Lin, William S., “The Private Investigator: While the New Journalism Sought Celebrity, Gay Talese Made a Study of It,” The Philadelphia Independent, April 2004

A conversation with author Gay Talese, about his book "The Gay Talese Reader: Portraits and Encounters", a collection of some of his most memorable work. The Charlie Rose Show, January 23, 2004

Lecture: “Gay Talese: His Portraits and Encounters,”, November 20, 2003

“Gay Talese: ‘Sinatra Has a Cold,’” Day to Day, NPR, September 9, 2003

“Gay Talese’s Work is Back in Print,” New York Daily News, December 20, 2002

“Gay Talese,” On the Media, NPR, November 29, 2002

Interview for PBS’s Bridging New York, July 2002

Gay Talese on Willie Morris Interviewed by Glynn Wilson inThe Southerner, 1999

“Baseball Obit,” All Things Considered, NPR, June 30, 1998

A panel discussion in honor of Frank Sinatra The Charlie Rose Show, May 15, 1998

Gay Talese, author of Unto the Sons, The Kingdom and the Power, speaks with Don Swaim in this 1992 interview about Talese's book, Unto the Sons. Wired For Books, February 13, 1992



© Robert S. Boynton