At an April 2 conference held at Boston University, literary journalist Gay Talese remarked to his audience that he could not name a single woman writer who inspired him. Wow guy!
According to the New York Daily News, Talese told the crowd of journalists and writers at a conference called “The Power Of Narrative” that women “aren’t interested in ‘uneducated’ or ‘anti-social’ types.” Thus, he is less inclined to admire them.
“I didn’t know any women writers that I loved,” he said, warming the hearts of reasonable human beings everywhere.
A prominent name in the New Journalism movement of the 1960s and 70s, Talese is one of the first writers to unite intense reporting with a writer’s subjective experience, and to cultivate the consciously literary style we’ve come to associate with much of long form journalism and nonfiction. Hunter S. Thompson and Truman Capote also rank among the New Journalism pioneers — and so does Joan Didion. But according to Talese, women are too uncomfortable speaking with strangers to compose quality nonfiction. And when the audience suggested that Didion might have served as an inspiration, Talese demurred. After all, she did not “report on anti-social people.”
Unsurprisingly, these remarks—and, not to mention, flagrantly uninformed generalizations—have been met with acute backlash, and the news has traveled rapidly across social media.
The hashtag #womengaytaleseshouldread is also in play on Twitter, should you care to offer Mr. Talese some suggestions. He purportedly loves George Eliot’s Middlemarch, so as long as you limit yourself to women writers after roughly 1871, you should be in the clear. (We might also want to verify that Talese knows “George Eliot” was the pen name of Victorian polymath Mary Ann Evans — not yet another dude.)
Stay tuned for Gay Talese’s damage control “Woke Bae” campaign.
Top Image via Getty. Embedded Images via Twitter.