Praise for This Is Not My Memoir
“Among the revolutionary stage troupes of the 1960s and ’70s . . . none was more inventive or exciting than André Gregory’s Manhattan Project . . . A candid personal memoir detailing the long career and life experience of the brilliantly accomplished Gregory would certainly be welcome, and this book marvelously fills the bill . . . Gregory is a masterly storyteller and chronicler. Eschewing the usual stale showbiz anecdotes, his perfectly timed narratives are spiced with wit, self-deprecating humor and shrewd analytical insight.”
Phillip Lopate, The New York Times Book Review
"As anyone who has seen the 1981 film classic My Dinner with André knows, avant-garde theater director and actor André Gregory is a wonderful raconteur. His multi-faceted life, full of dramatic ups and downs (and celebrities!), is rich material for memoir."
Heller McAlpin, NPR.org
“In this perceptive, nonlinear memoir, director Gregory, who wrote and starred in My Dinner with Andre, offers anecdotal reflections on his artistic life . . . Film lovers and theatergoers will delight in Gregory’s reminiscences.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“André Gregory is a director, an impresario, a painter, a storyteller, maybe a fabulist, and always an artist. This Is Not My Memoir reveals André’s sublime talent, his ability to look, to really see, and ultimately just be. My experiences with André profoundly shaped my growth as an actor; reading this book is a reminder of the urgency of seeking yourself in your life and your art.”
“Adventure. Compassion. Hatred. Money. Friendship. Marriage. Theatre. Failure. Beauty. Revelation. Cinema. Success. Death. Creation. And re-creation. This is a remarkable story, of a life so deeply lived.”
“Reading this book was like having André sit by my side and tell me the stories of his life. Heartfelt, honest, insightful and inspiring stories all told by the great story teller himself.”
“André Gregory has lived a life in the theatre filled with wildly uncalculated risks, thrilling successes, dazzling failures (at least as interesting) and endlessly fascinating memories. He is and always has been the boldest hero of our avant-garde.”
“André Gregory’s art has always rested on a unique mix of avant-garde audacity and aristocratic charm, not to mention anecdotal flair. All of those elements are irresistibly on display in what is not his autobiography.”
“True to the title, André Gregory hasn’t written a memoir, but a confession. I never knew brutal honesty could be so romantic and inspiring. It’s a testament to a fearless artist and a fascinating man.”
“[André Gregory is] one of the pioneers of American avant-garde theater. Few artists’ lives have been as colorful . . . [This is Not My Memoir is] a witty trip through a unique life in the theater.”
“André Gregory has made a career of artistic risks: arbitrary, baffling, passionate, and incredibly funny risks. This Is Not My Memoir is a loving scorecard of how those risks played outand, best of all, when they did not.”
“[André Gregory] recounts his early life as a spectacular swirl of tragedy and privilege, one that sets the stage for his later, almost comical searches for theatrical inspiration across countless borders of country, class, and culture . . . But this book is more than an account of Gregory’s plays, roles, or foibles. Rather, it’s an intimate conversation between Gregory and readers (made possible by theater historian London) that asks us to listen to the ideas behind the words and emerge more thoughtful for it.”
Robin Chin Roemer, Library Journal
“As a director, actor, writer, teacher, and painter, Gregory has a lot to say, and he says it with style and no little substance. Readers fascinated by theater, film, and the creative process will want to pull up a chair, pour a glass of wine, and feast on the thoughts of one of the theater’s great artists.”
Carolyn Mulac, Booklist
When is a memoir not a memoir? For boundary-pushing theater director and My Dinner with Andre actor Gregory, the question is a sort of thesis, a musing on the tensions—between life and work, reality and falsehood, life and death—that consume avant-garde artists. Born into a dysfunctional family of wealthy Jewish émigrés fleeing Europe during the 1930s, Gregory recounts his early life as a spectacular swirl of tragedy and privilege, one that sets the stage for his later, almost comical searches for theatrical inspiration across countless borders of country, class, and culture. A mix of successes and failures leads to the discovery of Gregory's artistic niche: small theatrical productions, rehearsed over many years, private and ephemeral yet somehow still aimed at posterity. But this book is more than an account of Gregory's plays, roles, or foibles. Rather, it's an intimate conversation between Gregory and readers (made possible by theater historian London) that asks us to listen to the ideas behind the words and emerge more thoughtful for it. Precisely what one would hope from half of My Dinner with Andre. VERDICT This rare, beautiful book toes the line between life and work; a must for Andre fans and theater lovers. [Prepub Alert, 11/1/19.]—Robin Chin Roemer, Univ. of Washington Lib., Seattle
Reminiscences by one of the pioneers of American avant-garde theater.
Few artists' lives have been as colorful as that of Gregory. Born in Paris in 1934 to Russian Jewish parents, he lived a privileged life of "private clubs, private schools, debutante balls" once the family left wartime Europe for New York. They spent summers in a California house Thomas Mann rented to them, where they socialized with celebrities like Errol Flynn, with whom his mother had an affair. He discovered a passion for acting when he attended a New York private school "established to train repressed, polite, withdrawn little WASPs." Much of this book, co-written by London (An Ideal Theater: Founding Visions for a New American Art, 2013, etc.), is a series of vignettes, some more entertaining than others, about Gregory's artistic and spiritual journey: stage manager jobs at regional theaters, lessons at Lee Strasberg's Actors Studio, pilgrimages to ashrams in India, and outrageous flourishes in the plays he directed, such as a production of Max Frisch's Firebugs that featured an actual fire engine onstage and scenes from Hiroshima projected onto a trampoline—a gig that got him fired. The narrative is filled with anecdotes about such luminaries as fellow director Jerzy Grotowski, who had a profound influence on Gregory's work, and Gregory Peck, who "slugged" him during an argument during the filming of Tartuffe. The highlight for many readers will likely be details of his long collaboration—"forty-five years and only one fight"—with Wallace Shawn and the making of their art-house hit My Dinner With André. These sections chronicle the duo's struggles to make the picture, from Gregory's memorizing hundreds of pages of dialogue for "the longest speaking role in the history of film" to his wearing long johns during the shoot because they couldn't afford to heat the hotel where the restaurant scenes were staged.
A witty trip through a unique life in the theater.