Over the weekend, writer Gay Talese fumbled hard responding to a question about female writers.
Women reporters don't feel comfortable dealing with unsavory, interesting, dangerous characters.
I think educated women, want to deal with educated people. Men, even educated men like me, are comfortable around uneducated men.
And then, right on cue, the New Yorker published an article by Talese this morning about a man who has been secretly observing guests in the rooms of the hotel he owns for decades, very much without permission.
I know a married man and father of two who bought a twenty-one-room motel near Denver many years ago in order to become its resident voyeur. With the assistance of his wife, he cut rectangular holes measuring six by fourteen inches in the ceilings of more than a dozen rooms. Then he covered the openings with louvred aluminum screens that looked like ventilation grilles but were actually observation vents that allowed him, while he knelt in the attic, to see his guests in the rooms below. He watched them for decades, while keeping an exhaustive written record of what he saw and heard. Never once, during all those years, was he caught.
Writer Gay Talese talks about his address book, in which he has written the names and phone numbers of almost everyone he's ever had "an encounter" with over the past 50 years.
(via submitted for your perusal)
If you're even a little bit of a magazine nerd, you'll appreciate this: with the help of Elon Green Gay Talese annotates his celebrated celebrity profile, Frank Sinatra Has A Cold.
EG: The punctuated alliteration is gorgeous -- "preened and polished"; "matured" and "molded". How much time would you spend on such a sentence?/eg
GT: Oh, I could spend days. Sometimes these phrases come to you and sometimes they're terrible. Sometimes you think, "Maybe that's okay" and you let it in. I throw a lot of stuff away.
EG: What percentage of what you write for any given story do you get rid of?
GT: More than half. Because it's so easily the case that it's turgid or overwritten.
EG: Do you throw away more now, now that you use a computer?
GT: I don't think so. I've always thrown a lot away, even when I was working on daily deadlines for newspapers. That was really expensive because at the New York Times we were typing what they called a "book" -- it had seven or eight pieces of carbon. A thick thing. If you threw it away, you were destroying 11 cents worth of, well, something.
The seventh episode of Put This On covers personal style...for which they interviewed Gay Talese.