Writer Gay Talese Disowns His Own Book After It Gets Fact-Checked (UPDATED)

gay taleseLongtime reporter and writer Gay Talese has completely denounced his own book days ahead of its publication.

Back in 1980, Talese had received an anonymous letter from someone named Gerald Foos who said he bought a motel so he could spy on the guests. It was a disturbing account that led to a pretty in-depth piece Talese wrote for The New Yorker.

He said he met with Foos all those years ago and was made to sign a confidentiality agreement, which he did, and for decades Talese learned a lot, including about an alleged murder that took place. Foos very recently said he was ready to go public.

Well, it turns out that Foos sold the motel the year he reached out to Talese and, as The Washington Post reports, didn’t get it back for eight years.

WaPo brought this factoid to Talese’s attention and he immediately disowned the book:

“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.

“I’m not going to promote this book,” the writer said. “How dare I promote it when its credibility is down the toilet?”

He called Foos “certifiably unreliable,” but Foos independently insisted, “I can swear to this, and I can say this unequivocally and without recourse, that I have never purposely told a lie.”

Now, this presents a problem not just for his upcoming book, but for the planned movie about the book.

UPDATE –– 7/1, 7:11 pm EDT: Talese is now backing off his harsh words and told The New York Times he’s standing by the book:

“I was surprised and upset about this business of the later ownership of the motel, in the ’80s,” Mr. Talese said in a statement provided by his publisher. “That occurred after the bulk of the events covered in my book, but I was upset and probably said some things I didn’t, and don’t, mean. Let me be clear: I am not disavowing the book, and neither is my publisher. If, down the line, there are details to correct in later editions, we’ll do that.”

[image via lev radin/Shutterstock]

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Follow Josh Feldman on Twitter: @feldmaniac

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