On Thursday night, Gay Talese disavowed his upcoming book The Voyeur’s Motel, after The Washington Post presented him with evidence suggesting the book’s primary source lied to him about key details. “I should not have believed a word he said,” Talese told the Post. “I’m not going to promote this book. ... How dare I promote it when its credibility is down the toilet?”
Well, The Voyeur’s Motel’s credibility may have been flushed down the toilet, but Talese has backtracked on that disavowal. The New York Times’s Alexandra Alter reports that Talese told her that he will, in fact, promote the book.
In a statement released Friday afternoon by Talese and his publisher Grove Atlantic, Talese claimed that he was caught off-guard by the Post and said things he did not mean. “When I spoke to the Washington Post reporter, I am sure I was surprised and upset about this business of the later ownership of the motel, in the eighties,” the statement from Talese reads. “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.” Grove Atlantic’s publisher, Morgan Entrekin, reiterated the fact that most of the book takes place before the 1980s and that the publisher will work with Talese to “address any questions” in future editions.
Talese was almost certainly contractually obligated to promote the book, and disparaging its credibility also was almost certainly a violation of that contract. I’ve reached out to Grove Atlantic for comment.
This post has been updated.