Gay Talese has received fame and notoriety during his writing career. His wife, Nan, a high-powered publisher who has her own Nan A. Talese imprint with Doubleday, steps into the spotlight in a profile by Evgenia Peretz in Vanity Fair.
I've long admired Gay Talese for his best writing and his elegant clothes, although his latest book about a hotel owner who spied on his guests in their rooms left me cold. Talese comes off as quite a jerk in Peretz's piece, which shows Nan as a long-suffering wife who shouldered the burden of raising two daughters while building her stellar publishing career. Nan is portrayed as an elegant New York sophisticate and exacting editor. While focusing on the Taleses' troubled marriage, the profile takes a romantic look at New York literary life.
Now both in their mid-80s, the Taleses have stayed together in despite Gay's infidelities - part of his research for his study of sex in America, "Thy Neighbor's Wife," - and his old-fashioned patriarchal beliefs.
Gay, who among other books wrote "The Kingdom and the Power," a study of The New York Times and my favorite newspaper book, and the author of the famous Esquire piece "Frank Sinatra Has a Cold," is writing a book on his marriage with Nan. Talese has never shown much shame at revealing intimate details of his life, and he likely will be forthright about his marriage. Whether Nan agrees with the portrait is another thing.