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“A document of wrenching and exhilarating honesty, shot through with unremitting humor and irony.” –Daphne Merkin, Bookforum
"Gray comes across as a genuinely noble, striving, seeking soul, felled by a malignant fate. . . . [His] work deserves to last." —Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Times Book Review
“The Journals of Spalding Gray tell an important story that is painful to read but hard to put down. They bring you into a mind that is original and uncensoring even as it careens off the rails into deep destruction. Gray’s complex moods, dark imagination, and wit are often disturbing and deeply moving.” —Kay Redfield Jamison, author of An Unquiet Mind [set off in color or bold or something]
“[These] journals allow us to see the unreconstructed Spalding Gray. . . . The book has been superbly edited and annotated by Nell Casey; she also provides an excellent introduction. . . . Full of panic and despair, leavened with boyish misbehavior and dry wit…and lit with a kind of disembodied lyricism that honors even the blackest perceptions.” —Daphne Merkin, Bookforum
“One of the most disturbing yet insightful aspects of reading The Journals of Spalding Gray, Nell Casey’s distillation of Gray’s unpublished, personal writing, is learning how magnificently and artfully Gray constructed his appealing onstage and onscreen persona out of his own obsessions, neuroses, and troubled history. . . . These journals are perhaps most useful in helping one to understand the healing and purgative power that Gray and no doubt many other troubled artists have found in both writing and performing.” —The Boston Globe
“The brilliant, tormented performer mesmerized audiences with his autobiographical monologue, but most revealing are these diaries leading up to his suicide in 2004.” —O, the Oprah Magazine
“The journals in [the years after his car accident] record a harrowing descent into madness, when he turned one of his greatest talents as a storyteller—his ability to find connections between disparate observations and events—against himself.” —Nathaniel Rich, The New York Review of Books
“The publication of The Journals of Spalding Gray is a significant event in American arts and letters. If Walt Whitman was our great chronicler of American life toward the end of the nineteenth century, Gray was his ironic, darkly funny counterpart. He did more than anyone else to record what it was like to be human—achingly human—in the urban America of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. This is not only a great book, it’s an important book.” —Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hours
“The Journals of Spalding Gray…reveal a daring melancholic (he committed suicide in 2004) who mined his chaotic inner life, troubled relationships, and tragic family history to create sterling works onstage anchored by his signature desk, water glass, notebook, and microphone.” —Elle
“During his nearly 30 years as a man onstage alone, Gray perfected the art of turning his life into art. . . . Gray’s journals show a man who was constantly walking a line between trying to keep something for himself and believing it was his artistic duty to share everything with his audience.” —The Austin Chronicle
“The Journals of Spalding Gray reveal someone who was at once addicted to the rush of self-exposure and yet was also deeply private. Brooklyn-based journalist Nell Casey has edited Gray’s literary anatomy down to a readable package. . . . As Gray’s journals show, he honed his craft carefully, tweaking and adjusting his stories for maximum narrative torque.” —The Globe and Mail (Toronto)
The troubled ruminations of the celebrated actor and writer, entries that darken as they approach his death by suicide in 2004.
An undoubtedly talented performer, Gray (Life Interrupted: The Unfinished Monologue, 2005, etc.) comes across as profoundly insecure and self-absorbed in these erratic passages generously annotated by editor Casey (An Uncertain Inheritance: Writers on Caring for Family, 2007, etc.)—and Gray's journals certainly require annotation. He did not write every day; he used abbreviations; he alluded to things that only he and a handful of others could comprehend. Casey divides the text into decades, each of which she introduces with a long summary of Gray's activities. The entries begin in the 1960s, when Gray (born in 1941) was beginning to launch his career. The suicide of his mother in 1967 darkened the decade—and remained on Gray's mind the rest of his life. At the time it happened, he wrote "I MUST keep the outsidemealive!" Given the tortured testimony in these pages, it's remarkable that he did so until 2004. His sexuality remained an issue throughout. Although he did not consider himself gay, he did have same-sex experiences, and he wrote often and graphically about sex, recording his myriad betrayals of his partners. According to his journals, when he wasn't having sex, he was thinking about it, planning it and remembering it. He had alcohol-abuse issues as well, spent years in therapy, underwent electroshock treatments and lived in mental institutions. Yet he somehow found time to write, to perfect his celebrated monologue format and to find men and women—and audiences—who supported him, even during his times of personal implosion. Negative reviews bothered him, and he rarely felt entirely happy about his performances, or about anything else.
A journey into a darkness too deep for hope to brighten.
Posted November 22, 2011
No text was provided for this review.