×

Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

The Smoking Diaries: The Year of the Jouncer
     

The Smoking Diaries: The Year of the Jouncer

by Simon Gray
 

See All Formats & Editions

As a baby, Simon Gray discovered that he could move his carriage while still nestling inside it. "It was a complete mystery to the adult intelligences, how had he done it, if it was he who had done it, but if not he, who then and why? So the next afternoon they planted the pram in the usual spot, and stood over it, watching—the baby lay there smiling or

Overview

As a baby, Simon Gray discovered that he could move his carriage while still nestling inside it. "It was a complete mystery to the adult intelligences, how had he done it, if it was he who had done it, but if not he, who then and why? So the next afternoon they planted the pram in the usual spot, and stood over it, watching—the baby lay there smiling or snivelling up at them, until it struck them that they should try observing the baby when unobserved by the baby, and they withdrew behind bushes and trees; and thus witnessed the swaying of the pram, then the juddering of the pram, then its slow, unsteady progress along the path, the movement accompanied by a low humming and keening sound from within that reminded them more of a dog than a human . . . jouncing was the word they used for it. I was a jouncer therefore." In these hilarious chronicles of triumph and disaster, Gray intertwines scenes from his adult and his child self to produce a brilliant and moving counterpoint of life’s unsteady progress.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
About to celebrate his 66th birthday, Gray, the British author of more than 30 plays, including the forthcoming Broadway revival of Butley (which will star Nathan Lane), started writing this witty journal of passing time, missed opportunities and his personality quirks, with the underlying topic of his smoking three packs of cigarettes daily and the wheezing and dizziness that accompany his habit. He traces his romance with tobacco to the incessant smoking of his overaffectionate Mummy and emotionally distant Daddy, and to his savvy 1940s and '50s childhood spent as part of a girl-run kiddie gang in Montreal. Gray's funny vignettes introduce characters such as Mr. and Mrs. Alzheimer (he suffers from the disease; she, therefore, is an "Alzheimer widow"), and "schoolmaster floggers" Mr. Brown and Mr. Burn. While somberly noting the demise of his parents and several friends from smoking-relating cancer and emphysema, Gray keeps up a constant comedy routine about the British literary world, his claustrophobia in cars and trains, the TV series Law and Order and other random subjects. His memoir is a dark comedy, full of intimacy, limericks, wisdom and fun. Photos. Agent, Angela Rose/Granta. (Aug.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
British author Gray is perhaps best known for his plays, produced on stage as well as on television and radio, but he has also written films, fiction, and nonfiction. This memoir begins two hours into his 66th year, as he tries to make sense of what has shaped him. In a stream-of-consciousness style that often sounds as if he were speaking a soliloquy, he relates his childhood in Canada and England. Some aspects of his life are hard to face-his parents' infidelities and his own, his devotion to smoking despite its contribution to the deaths of his parents and a dear friend-and he digresses, much to the reader's enjoyment, before returning to his initial thread. In other instances, he second-guesses himself: Did he deliberately shy away from certain opportunities? He need not worry. Whatever his experiences, they have given him plenty of material with which to work. His style is engaging and witty, and he elicits your sympathy. Those unfamiliar with his work will want to check it out after reading this; those who know it will not be surprised at the quality of the writing here. Recommended for academic libraries and larger public libraries.-Gina Kaiser, Univ. of the Sciences Lib., Philadelphia Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Lyrical and darkly funny meditations on death, infirmity and other disasters of aging by one of Britain's most acclaimed playwrights. Gray, author of scripts for radio, television and the stage, begins his seemingly stream-of-consciousness diaries on his 65th birthday, the day he learns that his good friend Harold Pinter has cancer. So does his close friend Ian Hamilton, who dies during the course of Gray's diary keeping; and before the end, Gray learns that he has it, too, though his stomach and liver are "in such a shambles" that he won't live long enough for his prostate cancer to matter. Indeed, death hovers over the book yet doesn't permeate it, for Gray has filled it with sharp observations, delicious and terrible childhood memories of parents, grandparents and schooldays, and choice comments about films (Gary Cooper's portrayal of the tortured, stoic sheriff in High Noon, he writes, owes much to the actor's painfully inflamed piles during the filming) and the work of other writers (W.H. Auden is especially scorned). Asides, afterthoughts and digressions create the impression that the writing is spontaneous and unedited, the author talking to himself and jotting down his thoughts in a yellow pad. It's not, however, a casual diary. It's a collection of well-crafted essays (with intriguing titles-"On Being a Genius," "Still Not Mummy's Football Boots," "A Smoking Urologist") that touch on friendship, adultery, illness, loss, writing, family and anybody and anything else in life that captures the writer's attention. Throughout, he is frank and funny about his failings and his weaknesses ("his fecklessness, self-indulgence, extravagance"). Once a four-bottles-of-champagne-a-day drinkerwho now has only diet sodas, a smoker who's trying to cut down from his habitual 60 cigarettes a day, he's overdrawn at his bank and can't pay his taxes, yet he dines out more often than in, and vacations with his wife in Barbados and Italy. Artful ramblings about life fully lived and well remembered.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781847080554
Publisher:
Granta UK
Publication date:
04/01/2008
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
972,568
Product dimensions:
5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.77(d)

Meet the Author

Simon Gray is the author of more than 30 plays, including Butley, The Common Pursuit, and Cell Mates, as well as his memoirs Enter a Fox, Fat Chance, and The Year of the Jouncer.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews