Gay Talese, a pioneer of nonfiction writing, has chronicled American culture for more than fifty years. Talese’s famed pieces in Esquire broke new ground, employing a style of literary reportage that came to be known as the New Journalism. In the Extraordinary Lives series, he speaks about his legendary career with William P. Kelly, interim chancellor of the City University of New York.
Gay Talese began reporting for the New York Times in 1956. He wrote for Esquire from 1965 on, producing a series of influential pieces, many of which are collected in The Gay Talese Reader: Portraits and Encounters (2003). He has profiled celebrities such as Muhammad Ali and Frank Sinatra—Esquire called his essay “Frank Sinatra Has a Cold” the finest it has ever published—but his magazine pieces and books have been concerned primarily with ordinary people. Talese has also written for the New Yorker, Harper’s, and Newsweek, and four of his books have been best sellers: The Kingdom and the Power (1968), Honor Thy Father (1971), Thy Neighbor’s Wife (1980), and Unto the Sons (1992). His most recent book, A Writer’s Life (2006), reveals the interplay between experience and writing (or “the art of hanging out,” as Talese describes his work).
William P. Kelly, before taking up his post as interim chancellor of the City University of New York, in July 2013, served for eight years as president of the Graduate Center. A distinguished scholar of American literature, he is chairman of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and the CUNY Research Foundation and has published essays and reviews in a broad range of publications, including the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Times Book Review, and the American Scholar.
This program is part of the yearlong initiative Cultural Capital: The Promise and Price of New York’s Creative Economy, produced by GC Public Programs in collaboration with the Advanced Research Collaborative (ARC). For more information and the full schedule, CLICK HERE.