Morning, Noon and Night
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Morning, Noon and Night

by Spalding Gray

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A hilarious monologue about fatherhood by a unique comic voice

In Morning, Noon and Night that master of the confessional, Spalding Gray, tells the event-filled, emotionally charged, and outrageously funny story of one day of his life in October 1997, after the birth of his son Theo. Horrified by the prospect of having another son, considering what he and


A hilarious monologue about fatherhood by a unique comic voice

In Morning, Noon and Night that master of the confessional, Spalding Gray, tells the event-filled, emotionally charged, and outrageously funny story of one day of his life in October 1997, after the birth of his son Theo. Horrified by the prospect of having another son, considering what he and his two brothers did to their father, and ambivalent about the idea of living in a small, quaint town on eastern Long Island that seems an odd detour for a man destined for California, Gray comes to feel, of course, a profound affinity for his baby boy, born with the looks of a "wet, blue beaver." But this is not merely a father's account of an infant son; it's the story of his new life with his girlfriend Kathie; his regally precocious eleven-year-old stepdaughter, Marissa ("Please don't let me die a virgin!"); and his older son, Forrest, who stymies Gray time and again with his metaphysical inquisitiveness-"Daddy, what's behind the stars?" "How do flies celebrate?"

A richly comic work about parenthood, about adults who don't grow up and children who do, Morning, Noon and Night stands as Gray's most mature work to date.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Captivating . . . in the world of diapers and training wheels, Mr. Gray has met his match.” —Peter Mmarks, The New York Times
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A portrait of the artist as bemused dad, this account of a day in the life of the Gray family is by turns funny, meditative and self-absorbed. Gray (Swimming to Cambodia, etc.) may say he is "really no good at making up stories," but he is brilliant at telling them. Parents will smile with recognition at his tales of sharing the bath with plastic action figures; of trying to control his anger at the children's rejection of a dinner lovingly prepared by his wife, Kathie, in favor of "Lunchables"; and at the stream of existential questions posed by his son, Forrest ("Dad, how do flies celebrate?"). With the birth of his second son, Theo, Gray's recollection of how he and his brothers treated their own father is sharpened, providing a frame of family history for his present encounters with parenthood. The 18th-century churchyard across from Gray's suburban Long Island home inspires his sometimes morbid imagination, but his frequent flights of fantasy are always brought down to earth by the real demands of young children or the common sense of the apparently endlessly patient Kathie. In his stepdaughter, Marissa, Gray seems to have met his match for self-dramatization: "We both thought that life was a rehearsal for the perfect story and the perfect audience." Gray's own words about a woman who exposes her toeless foot for alms on a New York subway--that her story "was no doubt partly an act, but was a good act and it deserved some money"--could equally be applied to his own work. Agent, ICM. (Sept.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
A day in the life of new dad Gray. Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Gray (It's a Slippery Slope, 1997, etc.) is an indefatigable talker. That's how he makes his living. Here he talks some more, a lot more, as he muses his way through one recent day. It's no Bloomsday, this day in the life of Spalding Gray. It starts slowly and works its way up to pedestrian speed. Eventually, though, he gets moving with deep thoughts about love, death, and related matters. The flowing discourse concerns home life in Sag Harbor, New York, with patient Kathie; Marissa, her daughter by an earlier liaison; their young son, Forrest; and baby Theo. There are, naturally, diverse thoughts about family life, its joys and terrors. This domestic field has been plowed before and Gray does as well with it as the next self-absorbed 56-year-old with a fear of sons. There is, to be sure, some humor. He attempts to teach his boy the semiotics of the word "shit," follows with a riff on ATMs and thence to thoughts of bank tellers' underwear. On and on he goes, offering vagrant comments on hand-propelled lawn mowers, his late mother's flatulence, churches, and, perforce, sex. Like a latter-day George M. Cohan, he's not above waving Old Glory, "the most beautiful of all the flags in the world." Sometimes he's an artful old philosopher and sometimes he's Al Bundy. (Kathie calls contractors; her family name is Russo "and I figure that's good, because so many of the contractors are of Italian-American descent.") Gray's shtick is to seem to let it all hang out in an excess of introspection. Sporadically, there is a universal quality. At other times, it's a lot, a surfeit, a plenitude of unilateral conversation. While others may be ready to cry "uncle," his many fans will consider the talk justfine. As a performed monologue, the words are probably charming and strong in the sentiment department. On paper, it's light, light entertainment as Gray disrobes again.

Product Details

Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.37(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

I wake and look out the window, scanning the historic cemetery across the street. My eye stops at the old Whalers' Church, where I see the first of the sun's rose-colored light build up behind it and seep out at the edges. This beautiful church was built in 1844 and had an incredible one-hundred-and-sixty-five-foot steeple that the whalers could see in the distance as they rounded Montauk Point. The steeple guided them home after two or three years at sea.

    But in 1938 the steeple was blown down by a hurricane and now the church looks like what it is, a perfect example of colonial—Egyptian revival. I mean, it looks like a white clapboard Egyptian tomb, as if George Washington and King Tut could be buried there side by side.

    From the old Whalers' Church my eye scans back across the cemetery and goes to Theo, my nine-month-old infant son sleeping beside me. Beside him, I see Kathie, his mother, and I think, "How did I get here?" Never in my wildest soothsayer-fantasy-fortune-teller-imagination-dreams did I think, at age fifty-six, that I would re-create my original family structure of two adults and three children. Kathie, me, her daughter Marissa, who is eleven, our son Forrest, who is five, and our new little Theo. Kathie always said that, even in high school, she knew she was going to have three children. What did I know I wanted in high school? What did I know I wanted now? I didn't know I wanted to live with Kathie until I lived with her. I didn't know I wanted to have a child until I first held him in my arms. I did think I wanted to end up one day living by the sea, butbeing a Gemini, I could never decide which ocean I wanted to end up by: I kept bouncing back and forth between coasts. Then, on my fifty-fourth birthday, Kathie surprised me by taking me to the American Hotel in Sag Harbor. She had never been out to Sag Harbor, and taking me there gave her a chance to see the place for the first time.

    After dinner, at the lovely old American Hotel, we went out for a walk and came upon a large rambling Victorian house for sale. Kathie tried the front door and it was open, so we just walked in. It wasn't really breaking and entering. It was really just entering. We walked through the whole house fantasizing about what it would be like to raise a family there, what it would be like to live right in the heart of the village of Sag Harbor.

    The following day we called the realtor whose number was on the For Sale sign. We called just to find out the price of the house. It was out of our range and there was too much that needed to be done to that house to get it into shape for us to live in. If we wanted to go through with this fantasy we needed a place that we could just move into.

    Well, real estate agents aren't called "real" estate agents for nothing. Once they feel you as a fish on their line, they just "reel" you in, and to top it off, this agent just happened to be named Jan Hooks and she just happened to work for Harpoon Realty. We were hooked and harpooned all at once. So we started coming out to Sag Harbor to look at houses and the first weekend out we saw two houses that we both liked very much.

    Because we liked both houses, we were torn. One of the houses was built in eighteen-forty and we were very much drawn to that one because of its age, but when we got inside, much of it didn't look that old because of all the new Sheetrock and recessed ceiling lighting that had been put in. Parts of the house's interior were very historic and other parts looked like a doctor's waiting room. Also, the house was set rather low in the landscape, so not only did you have that sort of low swampy feeling but there were no views. In fact, the master bedroom was on the first floor and the window looked out onto a small back yard and a large overgrowth of bamboo.

    The other house that Jan Hooks showed us was not as old. It was built in eighteen-ninety but it was set on a slight rise, a little hill, and that made all the difference. There were different cozy views from all the windows. Also, very little had been done to this house, it had those old wide-board pinewood floors and the doorways were at odd and crazy angles, as if the house had shifted over the years, We both loved this house right away. So did my best friend, Ken, who has a fine architectural eye. The only person who didn't like it—in fact, was rather freaked out by it—was my accountant and financial advisor. The first time he laid eyes on the house he advised me not to buy it, and when I insisted upon going ahead with the deal, he made me sign a notarized disclaimer that I would nor hold him responsible when the house fell down.


Meet the Author

Writer, actor, and performer, Spalding Gray is the author of It's a Slippery Slope (Noonday, 1997), Swimming to Cambodia, and Monster in a Box, among other works. He has appeared on PBS and HBO, and in numerous films, including Roland Joffe's The Killing Fields, David Byrne's True Stories, and, most recently, Steven Soderbergh's Gray's Anatomy. He lives with his family in Sag Harbor, New York.

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