Great Articles About Sinatra, Hemingway, and Marilyn Monroe by Gay Talese

Longform.org's guide to the greatest long articles ever written.
Oct. 19 2013 11:38 AM

The Longform Guide to Gay Talese

What he thinks of his favorite stories, 50 years later.

Gay Talese
Gay Talese

Photo by Thos Robinson/Getty Images

Every weekend, Longform shares a collection of great stories from its archive with Slate. For daily picks of new and classic nonfiction, check out Longform or follow @longform on Twitter. Have an iPad? Download Longform’s app to read the latest picks, plus features from 70 of the world’s best magazines, including Slate.

Did you know that Longform has a podcast? Longform has a podcast! We produce it along with The Atavist, and every week we sit down with a magazine writer or editor to talk about how they tell stories. We started the show a year ago and have had a slew of great guests, including David Grann, Susan Orlean, Jon Ronson, Ta-Nehisi Coates and many others whose work have appeared in these guides.

This week our guest was Gay Talese, the legendary writer whose work for Esquire in the 1960s defined a new era of journalism. You can listen to the episode below. But you may first want to (re)acquaint yourself with Talese’s classic stories, many of which he’s allowed us to put online for the first time.

Advertisement

Esquire • April 1966

Perhaps the most famous magazine article ever published, Talese captured Sinatra in a way no one else ever had without a single interview.

A part of Sinatra, no matter where he is, is never there. There is always a part of him, though sometimes a small part that remains Il Padrone. Even now, resting his shot glass on the blackjack table, facing the dealer, Sinatra stood a bit back from the table, not leaning against it. He reached under his tuxedo jacket into his trouser pocket and came up with a thick but clean wad of bills. Gently he peeled off a one-hundred-dollar bill and placed it on the green-felt table. The dealer dealt him two cards. Sinatra called for a third card, overbid, lost the hundred.
Without a change of expression, Sinatra put down a second hundred-dollar bill. He lost that. Then he put down a third, and lost that. Then he placed two one-hundred-dollar bills on the table and lost those. Finally, putting his sixth hundred-dollar bill on the table, and losing it, Sinatra moved away from the table, nodding to the man, and announcing, “Good dealer.”

Note: Just this month on Nieman Storyboard, Talese annotated this piece line by line with Elon Green, a contributing editor at Longform. Recommended.

Mr. Bad News
Esquire
• February 1966