Gay Talese is writing a new book about his marriage to Nan A. Talese, a union that was almost ruined by a previous book Gay wrote about the sexual revolution.
The book, originally published in 1980, is about the sexual revolution, which Talese believed would be the most important cultural shift in decades, and which he spent most of the seventies intimately researching. It’s the research itself — particularly Talese’s tendency to take the participant-observer concept to the extreme — that turned out to be the unintended legacy of the project. “If you want to write about orgies,” says Talese, who at 77 is still slim and handsome, “you’re not going to be in the press box with your little press badge keeping your distance. You have to have a kind of affair with your sources. You have to hang out! I wanted to write about sexuality and the changing definition of morality. Maybe if I had put that in a subhead on the cover I might have gotten a better hearing.”
As detailed in a 1973 New York article (written seven years before Talese’s book came out), part of Talese’s research included managing two massage parlors, living in a California sex commune for six months, and attending orgies.