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Gay Talese has a cold or some other weird thing going on

posted by Jason Kottke   Apr 04, 2016

Over the weekend, writer Gay Talese fumbled hard responding to a question about female writers.

Women reporters don’t feel comfortable dealing with unsavory, interesting, dangerous characters.

I think educated women, want to deal with educated people. Men, even educated men like me, are comfortable around uneducated men.

And then, right on cue, the New Yorker published an article by Talese this morning about a man who has been secretly observing guests in the rooms of the hotel he owns for decades, very much without permission.

I know a married man and father of two who bought a twenty-one-room motel near Denver many years ago in order to become its resident voyeur. With the assistance of his wife, he cut rectangular holes measuring six by fourteen inches in the ceilings of more than a dozen rooms. Then he covered the openings with louvred aluminum screens that looked like ventilation grilles but were actually observation vents that allowed him, while he knelt in the attic, to see his guests in the rooms below. He watched them for decades, while keeping an exhaustive written record of what he saw and heard. Never once, during all those years, was he caught.

Update: And it now appears that the New Yorker piece, and the book it was excerpted from, may not have been based on an entirely factual account.

But Talese overlooked a key fact in his book: Foos sold the motel, located in Aurora, Colo., in 1980 and didn’t reacquire it until eight years later, according to local property records. His absence from the motel raises doubt about some of the things Foos told Talese he saw — enough that the author himself now has deep reservations about the truth of some material he presents.

“I should not have believed a word he said,” the 84-year-old author said after The Washington Post informed him of property records that showed Foos did not own the motel from 1980 to 1988.