Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Birthday Book: Gay Talese's Unto the Sons, autographed first edition


Writer Gay Talese has been an astute observer of America for a very long time. Now 85, after a career in journalism and books spanning seven decades, he remains a remarkable observer, commenter, and stylist.

Even at 85, which birthday he celebrates today, Talese is controversial. His 2016 book, The Voyeur’s Motel, was about a man who spied on his hostelry’s guest rooms. It turned out Talese played it foxy with dates and events to sex up the story. Confronted, he first claimed he would disown the book, then took it back to his bosom.

In a previous best-seller about sex in America, Thy Neighbor's Wife, he wrote:

They were unabashed voyeurs looking at him; and Talese looked back.

(That book also features two appearances by prim Charlotte, North Carolina:

 Charlotte, N.C., 273 Chastity belt, 55 Chaucer, Geoffrey
The mind boggles).

In the middle of all that new voyeurist fuss last year, Talese told an interviewer he couldn’t think of a single women writer whose work had ever influenced him. After Twitter lit up with #WomenGayTaleseShouldRead, the thought of some, though not without also complaining of “irresponsible form of journalism on the internet these days.”

One of Talese’s most famous pieces is “Frank Sinatra has a Cold,” a very long article about a singer who refused him an interview.

In an interview with New York magazine last year, Talese- who attended the University of Alabama, 1949-1953, confessed he wasn’t very surprised that, in Harper Lee’s new book, lawyer Atticus Finch reveals a dark, angry, racist side.

It’s the 1950s. It’s the pre-civil-rights period, the Eisenhower period. I read about what’s going on, but it seems not remarkable to me that a person — an outstanding, upstanding, somewhat righteous person with regard to humanity, as Atticus Finch is depicted — would have that other side, that less sunlit area of his brain that could be responsive to, and maybe a proponent of, racism. Because it was a period — this period in which Harper Lee existed as a writer — when there was very little social conscience, not only in the deep South, but particularly in the deep South, because it was so nakedly racist there, with ‘colored,’ with separate water fountains, and all that stuff. Whereas in the North, it was much more hypocritical.

Tales has been provocative since before most of us were born, so Henry Bemis Books is pleased to offer Talese’s 1992 memoir, in an autographed first edition:

unto the sons.jpg

Talese, Gay, Unto the Sons (Knopf, 1992, 1st ed.). ISBN 0-679-4130401. Sweeping saga of the Italian-American experience in the 20th century, centering around his paternal and maternal families’ immigration to the United States around World War I. Hardcover, unclipped dust jacket, very good condition, autographed. HBB price: $75 obo.

Henry Bemis Books is one man’s attempt to bring more diversity and quality to a Charlotte-Mecklenburg market of devoted readers starved for choices. Our website is at For more information about any listed book, or more photos, please contact Lindsay at Henry Bemis Books is also happy to entertain reasonable offers on items in inventory. Shipping is always free; local buyers are welcome to drop by and pick up their purchases at our location off Peachtree Road in Northwest Charlotte if they like. #RareBooks #HenryBemisBooks #GayTalese #UntotheSons #Autographed #First Editions

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