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Once again I’m nomadic, traveling in Alaska this time, a magnificent landscape. I won’t be home until after Labor Day. I haven’t started a new project but I’m thinking about it and taking many notes about my journey. I brought a copy of the summer issue of Paris Review which has an interview with Gay Talese, a former New York Times and Esquire reporter, and author of several nonfiction books including “The Kingdom and the Power,” and “Thy Neighbor’s Wife.” Along with Tom Wolfe, David Halberstam and Joan Didion, he pioneered long-form narrative nonfiction which observers at the time referred to as the “new journalism.” Using fictional devices to tell a story, these writers were also seasoned reporters. Their challenge to the detached omniscience of news was profound. It was understood that if a reporter revealed his or her POV, spoke about how s/he felt and what s/he was thinking, s/he’d better be certain of the facts.

Initially, Gay Talese’s editors did not believe that he wasn’t writing fiction. He had to keep meticulous notes and careful records on shirt boards. These are works of art with doodles in colored pencils, artful handwriting, a map of the author’s process. When filled, Talese would then transfer these notations to larger entries on the typewriter adding more research and his personal interpretations and questions.

Now in his mid-seventies, Talese is still an active, productive writer. He’s working on a book about his fifty-year marriage to Nan Talese who was, by paradoxical coincidence, James Frey’s less than meticulous editor at Doubleday.

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