image of Gay Talese
home about books reviews interviews essays news contact

A Writer's Life (Knopf, 2006)

Washington Post Book World
"A Writer's Life is a book told as if Homer had stood you to a martini at a comfortable bar, saying 'Let me tell you about my life, but first let's start with Achilles.' The virtue of this approach is a cracking good read...It is as if behind Talese's dapper, tailored suits there lies a heart of ravenous sponge, soaking up the world--and squeezing it back out across the years. We are, of course, richer for that--as, indeed, a critical biographer may be richer some day for all that has gone unsaid...These wonderful stories in A Writer's Life, borne on gossamer threads of inspiration and serendipity, are less a summing up than an introduction to a body of nonfiction that is a signal triumph of American literature. And as we are consumed by the effortlessness of blogging, the false plentitude of the Internet and the vaporous sublime of a democratized media, A Writer's Life is a timely reminder of literary craft, and what it really takes to produce writing worth reading."   (read full review - registration required)

The Seattle Times
"Gay Talese is a great writer of nonfiction--perhaps the best alive. Starting with the New York Times in 1956, he has composed unforgettable newspaper features, magazine stories, and books for five decades. So it's no surprise that Talese's long-awaited memoir, A Writer's Life, is completely absorbing--especially for professional writers, but for nonwriters also."   (read full review)

Atlanta Journal-Constitution
"Though Talese claims that he spends his days alone, 'producing prose with the ease of a patient passing kidney stones,' A Writer's Life arronges his stones in a setting that shines with the luster of gems."   (read full review)

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review
"After more than 50 years, writer Gay Talese still has a zest for his craft, for the story that no one else knows, the tale that emerges only through persistence, persistence, persistence. His new book, A Writer's Life, speaks to 'what it is that I do, and not only what I've done here, but what I've always done,' he says. This much is certain: few writers on the planet, if any, have done it Talese's way. Whether he was detailing the Bonanno crime family in Honor Thy Father, the sexual mores of America in Thy Neighbor's Wife or mapping his family's history in Unto the Sons, he made sure to follow every lead, to pull on each tiny thread of an idea, however unlikely the source and outcome.... A Writer's Life reveals the inner workings of one of the groundbreaking journalists and nonfiction writers of the last half of the 20th century. There are starts and stops, ideas that cannot quite be fleshed out. Individually, the stories seem incomplete; but together, a mosaic emerges, one that illuminates the craftwork, the tenacity, the drive of one of America's finest chroniclers."   (read full review)

The Christian Science Monitor
" A Writer's Life is defined by Talese's elegant, erudite writing and marked by his lifelong (and often wayward pursuit) of disparate story threads. Talese is fortunate in that he has the perfect mind-set for these maddening pursuits. Rather than pursuing any particular goal, Talese prefers to keep looking, waiting for the right moment. In this case, even the wrong moments--the dead-end leads and interviews, the interminable waiting--often end up making for what Tom Wolfe, Talese's fellow New Journalism literary lion, calls the Right Stuff."   (read full review)

Publishers Weekly
" A Writer's Life is a near-perfect expression of Talese's inquisitive personality, an inquisitiveness that has led to some of the outstanding journalism of the past few decades."   (read full review)

USA Today
"If reading is like traveling, then reading Gay Talese's A Writer's Life is like going on a long trip with a great storyteller."   (read full review)

St. Louis Post-Dispatch
"For anyone who is dissatisfied with the tiresome prose of pompous bloggers or who nurses ambitions to write disciplined, lyrical, insightful profiles instead of relying strictly on the five W's, or who swoon to good writing and is curious about how it's done, A Writer's Life will make a great read."   (read full review)

New York magazine "Talese, in his memoir as in life, is charming, modest, self-effacing, a pleasant companion."   (read full review)

Pages Magazine
"A memoir of the creative process, A Writer's Life will resonate with anyone who has ever sat in front of a blank computer screen. As Talese delves into his past influences (including family and heritage), as well as yellowed thoughts and research files, he delivers a creative tapestry that reminds us that often, it's what you don't read on the printed page that remains the most compelling."

Read a synopsis of A Writer's Life

  ©2007 Gay Talese Design by Charlevi¢