The Voyeur’s Motel

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On January 7, 1980, in the run-up to the publication of his landmark bestseller Thy Neighbor’s Wife, Gay Talese received an anonymous letter from a man in Colorado. “Since learning of your long awaited study of coast-to-coast sex in America,” the letter began, “I feel I have important information that I could contribute to its contents or to contents of a future book.” The man went on to tell Talese an astonishing secret, that he had bought a motel to satisfy his voyeuristic desires. He had built an attic “observation platform,” fitted with vents, through which he could peer down on his unwitting guests.

Unsure what to make of this confession, Talese traveled to Colorado where he met the man—Gerald Foos—verified his story in person, and read some of his extensive journals, a secret record of America’s changing social and sexual mores. But because Foos insisted on remaining anonymous, Talese filed his reporting away, assuming the story would remain untold. Now, after thirty-five years, he’s ready to go public and Talese can finally tell his story. The Voyeur’s Motel is an extraordinary work of narrative journalism, and one of the most talked about books of the year.

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