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Paperback A Writer's Life Book

ISBN: 0812977289

ISBN13: 9780812977288

A Writer's Life

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Format: Paperback

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Book Overview

The inner workings of a writer's life, the interplay between experience and writing, are brilliantly recounted by a master of the art. Gay Talese now focuses on his own life--the zeal for the truth, the narrative edge, the sometimes startling precision, that won accolades for his journalism and best-sellerdom and acclaim for his revelatory books about The New York Times (The Kingdom and the Power), the Mafia (Honor Thy Father), the sex industry (Thy...

Customer Reviews

5 ratings

Talese still has what it takes.

I listened to Arthur Morey (very engagingly) read this book on CD while I commuted by car or bicycle, ran or just walked the dog. It's that kind of book and no more. Your mind can wander and pick up the thread in no time. Talese is an interesting, shrewd, charming, moderately wise and becomingly modest man in his early seventies. I doubt that Nan Talese--his tough-minded editorial wife--approved the needless repetitions and the loose organization. Yet the reader comes to appreciate how Talese was able to approach and ultimately master the more disciplined works of his earlier years about the New York Times, where he once was a reporter, or the Mafia. Anyone considering free-lance journalism as a profession should read this book. Talese is no genius, but he has proven over time that he has what it takes.

Captivating...yet not really a memoir

As others have pointed out, this book seems to have been written to tie together numerous unfinished pieces rather than to capture Telese's life. I'm glad the effort ended up the way it did; otherwise, years of his time and numerous entertaining story lines would probably not have found their way into a book. Yes, the book is rather circuitious. No, that does not detract from it nor make it boring. To the contrary, Talese brings seemingly mundane subjects alive. The trials and tribulations of the 63rd St restaurant made for particularly fascinating reading. Makes me want to go there right now and check out the latest culinary attempt.

A Wonderful Journey Into The Human Spirit.

Gay Talese has done a great service for all writers in this wonderful memoir `A Writer's Life'. In this joyfully crafted memoir, the story shares, in a meandering way, perspectives that one of our greatest writers of all time viewed the world and the subject matter he has written about: thru, at times, the eyes and perspective of the underdog and the defeated. The sensitivity explored, when carefully construed, offers insight into the human spirit encompassing the currency and social times of which the subjects Talese writes about experiences. Readers, and particularly writers, may be inclined to view the whole subject of events and the subjects that cause this world to spin with perhaps a more compassionate view and even a sense of sensitivity for the struggle of those who simply `attempt' to follow their dreams, regardless of the outcome. And it is here, in Talese's attention to the human spirit, as seen and penned by a gifted writer that `A Writer's Life' shines. Many a lessons can be learned. There are moments when the subject matter of Talese's journey are not of great interest to me, and initially I pushed quickly through the pages, only to find the importance of the previous hurried stories to greater meaning than initially thought. Overall, this is a well done story, one that requires some patience. The reward? A fascinating journey of the art of thinking and writing.



A Writers life can be tough, like this book.

This is the third time I've written this review, and I feel like Talese himself when he talks about working and reworking a piece and than maybe ends up throwing it away. I think that is part of the key to his book. A writers life is messy, demanding, and often, not fun; it relies on the writers passions, what interests him, and his inborn capacity to often not get it right, not convince or please the reader-he didn't please me in many of the diverse pieces in "A Writers Life"-but then again, sometimes it clicks, as some of the other pieces do. What Talese deserves a lot of credit for is showing, not telling, or talking about the writer at work (he says just a little about that). He makes it clear by not saying it that being a writer is something like being a monk; working with spirit, the spirit of what's motivating him to write and write about what ever. Some of the pieces he's included here were simply uninteresting to me, but the book's like a smorgasbord, full of variety; he made it long enough and worked hard enough at it for it to have that effect, so I skipped and skimmed when I wasn't interested in what he was interested in. Talese is a prose master; his style, old fashionedly enough, is discursive and inclusive at the same time. He's like a Henry James of non-fiction; unfortunately there's little of James that I have the patience and dedication to read and that's true of some of the pieces here, but I acknowledge that James is a master of fiction, and Talese is a master of non-fiction. A short review of Talese's book in "The New Yorker" ended by saying that it didn't "cohere." I thought about that, agreed for a while, and then disagreed. Although I think it's true that "A Writers Life" often reads like a cut and paste job of a lot of things that Talese wrote but didn't end up getting in print-it took courage to include those, and he could have rested on the laurels of what he has published-my final impression, until I change my mind again, is that the book is a coherent portrait of an incoherent activity, a writer at work. When a writer has a book published, that work may masquerade as something that one knocked off when the truth is it may have taken a decade or more to research write revise, maybe a number of times, and produce as is the case here.
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