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17 July 1980
Thy Neighbour’s Wife 
by Gay Talese.
Collins, 568 pp., £7.95, June 1980, 0 00 216307 1
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... steht, liegt der Seichel indrehd!’ In other words, which you may possibly need: ‘When the cock stands up, the brain falls down!’ And, as a review, it says just about all there is to say about GayTalese’s appalling new book. And its author. Of course, the old man was clearly attempting, in his dim yet not unwinningly direct fashion, to warn me about America. I have little doubt that he knew ...

Short Cuts

Rosemary Hill: What Writers Wear

26 July 2017
... and sometimes comic effect. Organised like an extended magazine feature it has sections on ‘Signature Looks’, which include ‘Glasses’, ‘Hats’ and ‘Suits’, the latter bringing GayTalese and T.S. Eliot into unlikely proximity. There are also pull quotes with such fun facts as that Jacqueline Susann’s ambition as a schoolgirl ‘was to own a mink coat’, and in the early 1970s ...

Keeping Score

Ian Jackman: Joe DiMaggio

10 May 2001
Joe DiMaggio: The Hero’s Life 
by Richard Ben Cramer.
Simon and Schuster, 560 pp., £20, April 2001, 0 684 85391 4
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... the best cocksucker you ever saw – just like that one you had.’ ‘Then he stuck out his hand,’ writes Cramer, ‘like him and Joe were going to chew the fat about Marilyn.’ In the 1960s GayTalese was trying to write about DiMaggio for Esquire. Talese told Joe he thought he was a great man. ‘I’m not great,’ Joe said, ‘I’m just a man trying to get along.’ One of Cramer’s ...

Defeated Armies

Scott Sherman: Castro in the New York Times

5 July 2007
The Man Who Invented Fidel: Castro, Cuba, and Herbert L. Matthews of the ‘New York Times’ 
by Anthony DePalma.
PublicAffairs, 308 pp., £15.99, September 2006, 1 58648 332 3
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... bomb in the auditorium. Until 1957, Matthews had been a favourite son at the newspaper: the publisher, Arthur Hays Sulzberger, even authorised a loan of $16,000 so he could buy a house in London. In GayTalese’s book about the Times, The Kingdom and the Power, we see Matthews in 1967 sitting ‘rather forlornly in Room 1048 along a corridor of editorial writers on the tenth floor . . . a man ...

Goings-on in the Tivoli Gardens

Christopher Tayler: Marlon James

5 November 2015
A Brief History of Seven Killings 
by Marlon James.
Oneworld, 688 pp., £8.99, June 2015, 978 1 78074 635 7
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... people around him, the ones who come and go,’ Alex the journalist muses, ‘might actually provide a bigger picture than me asking him why he smokes ganja. Damn if I’m not fooling myself I’m GayTalese again.’ ‘The ones who come and go’, in James’s telling, include a young woman called Nina Burgess, who’s had a one night stand with Marley; Barry Diflorio, a CIA man; and Alex. The ...

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