Author and journalist Gay Talese, who is credited with pioneering literary journalism, is disavowing his new book after reporting by the Washington Post undermined the credibility of his primary source.
“The source of my book, Gerald Foos, is certifiably unreliable,” Talese said when contacted by the Post. “He’s a dishonorable man, totally dishonorable.”
The book, which was slated for publication on July 12, concerns Foos’ alleged voyeuristic activities as the owner of a Colorado motel. Foos said he would spy on guests from an area he described as a “sexual researcher’s station” between the late 1960s and the 1990s.
But the Post reported that contrary to the book’s account, Foos was not the proprietor between 1980 and 1988, when the hotel went through various sales.
“I did the best I could on this book, but maybe it wasn’t good enough,” said Talese, who was unaware of the transactions.
Foos, who is now 82 years old, defended his account of the hotel’s history, which he preserved in journal entries that were sourced in Talese’s reporting.
“I can swear to this, and I can say this unequivocally and without recourse, that I have never purposely told a lie,” Foos said. “Everything I said in that book is the truth.”
Property records show that Foos also misstated regarding the end of his second tenure as the motel’s owner: He told Talese that he sold it to “Korean-born residents of Denver” in August 1996. But he actually sold it to a man named Bruno G. Previtali a year earlier.
Foos’ allegation that his son Mark Foos lived in the same apartment as Aurora mass shooter James Holmes — though not at the same time — was also debunked. Records showed that the younger Foos lived in the town at the same time as Holmes, but in different apartment buildings.