Gay Talese was born and grew up in Ocean City, N.J., where his parents owned and ran a clothing store and the family lived in an apartment over the store. Talese began writing in high school, contributing sports stories to the Ocean City Sentinel-Ledger. When he had difficulty getting into college, a customer recommended that he apply to the University of Alabama. He enrolled at UA in 1949, majoring in journalism. Talese wrote sports stories for the student newspaper, The Crimson-White, and had a regular column “Sports Gay-zing.” He graduated with a BA in 1953 and went to New York City to look for a newspaper job. Talese worked for a year as a copyboy at The New York Times. He then spent two years in the US Army, serving in the Office of Public Information. Talese returned to the Times in 1956 as a sports reporter. After two years, his assignment was changed from sports to news.
In 1960, in addition to his work at the Times, Talese began writing freelance articles for Esquire magazine. New York: A Serendipiter’s Journey, a collection of his newspaper and magazine articles, was published in 1961. In 1964 and 1965, he published The Bridge and The Overreachers, respectively. Talese left the Times in 1965 but continued to write for Esquire for another year. He also began doing research for a book about the Times. The Kingdom and the Power, published in 1969, became a bestseller. His next three books were also bestsellers. Talese continued to write for magazines and published a collection of these articles in 2003. His memoir, A Writer’s Life, was published in 2006. Talese has been married since 1959 to editor Nan A. Talese. The couple divides their time between New York City and Ocean City, N.J.
The nonfiction of Gay Talese exemplifies the New Journalism style of writing with its emphases on scene, character, and detail and on writing from a personal perspective. Talese describes his experiences in Alabama in A Writer’s Life.
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Photo courtesy of Random House.
Last updated on Oct 10, 2009.