High Notes: Selected Writings of Gay Talese
If all of the essays in this collection were as strong as the first two, this would be a five-star read. As it is, this is a “must have” book for any journalist. The author, Gay Tales, wrote for the New York Times and certainly perfected the skill of that requisite high caliber of writing; his first paragraphs are masterful and compel the reader to read on. He is also gifted at taking an unexpected left turn. Instead of writing about Charles Manson, he writes about the owner of the Spahn ranch. Instead of writing about the gangster Joe Bonanno, he writes about his son. In “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold,” he turns a cancelled personal interview into a slice of life of that superstar and those around him. In doing that, the piece manages to be more revelatory than the guarded interview would have been.
Unfortunately, his writing about the New York Times is such an insider piece that one would have to be a daily reader in order to track the many editors and managers. This is a great gift for anyone interested in the art of essay writing and journalism.