THE JOURNALS OF SPALDING GRAY
"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 19th 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 20th and early 21st centuries. This is not only a great book, it's an important book."
-- Michael Cunningham, author of The Hours and By Nightfall
"It's distressing to read the way happiness generates sadness and terror in Gray's psyche, because his work could be the source of so much pleasure to his audiences. Even offstage: one friend tells the editor Nell Casey--who has done an admirable job knitting together a selection of Gray's journal entries with interviews, and her own thoughtful take--that Gray was so seductive a storyteller that just sitting around a downtown loft, hearing him recount the mundane details of his day, could 'torture you with pleasure.' He invented a performance genre out of this narrative prowess."
--Ron Rosenbaum, The New York Times Book Review (October 30, 2011)
"The Journals of Spalding Gray is necessary reading for all admirers of Gray's art: the series of autobiographical monologues in which he more or less created a new, emotionally bare theatrical form... The journals are great reading. They are far more raw in their details of his sexual and emotional travails, and all the more affecting for being so. Ms. Casey does an excellent job of providing context, describing the arc of Gray's life as he moved from struggling young actor to established artist, and from chronically dissatisfied narcissist ('The worst fear is that I'll learn to be happy at last and then get sad when I see what I've missed.') to deeply loving and happy father. When he admits at one point that even in his journals he is writing for an audience, the honesty is refreshing. On almost every page there is a bitingly funny insight.'"
--Charles Isherwood, The New York Times (November 16, 2011)
"Private secrets within performed secrets, unspoken confessions behind the public ones: that is what emerges from the pages of Spalding Gray's journals, a document of wrenching and exhilarating honesty, shot through with self-hatred but also with unremitting humor and irony. ... The book has been superbly edited and annotated by Nell Casey; she also provides an excellent introduction."
-- Daphne Merkin, Bookforum (Sept./Oct./Nov. 2011)
"It was evident from the start that Gray was, intuitively, a gifted writer. From the first monologues he showed a mastery of the essential elements of good storytelling: humor, surprise, vivid detail. In his final [monologue], life at last caught up to work: the composition of Life Interrupted was itself interrupted by his suicide. 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. His fear of death never ebbed--'I am terrified of dying' he says in the book's final entry, a recording made in the last weeks of his life--he leapt from the Staten Island Ferry on January 10, 2004. It was the coldest night of the year. Nell Casey has filled the [journals' gaps] with detailed biographical chapters, drawing from research and interviews with friends and family."
--Nathaniel Rich, The New York Review of Books (December 8, 2011)
"The brilliant, tormented performer mesmerized audiences with his autobiographical monologues, but most revealing are these diaries leading up to his suicide in 2004."
--Karen Holt, O Magazine (November 2011) (#4 of 10 Titles to Pick Up Now)
"What the journals rather terrifyingly reveal is that the stories became the true substance of his life. ... His journals don't tell something so corny as an uplifting story about the triumph of the human spirit. Gray's drive and strength were too primal for that. He grabbed what was at hand--chance encounters, the theater, friends, lovers, family, his own with and articulateness--and, over and over again, forged an existence. This was his creation, of which the charming, ironic, self-deprecating man audiences saw onstage was but a walking shadow."
--Lloyd Rose, The Washington Post (November 6, 2011)
"Casey supplies useful and well-made narrative bridges. The result is a kind of memoir in fragments, frank and elliptical, unsparing and occluded... . Gray was full of shadow parts. A number of them emerge with more clarity and starkness in his journal than they did onstage."
--Steven Winn, The San Francisco Chronicle (November 6, 2011)
"The suspense of the last journal entries is as tight as anything Stephen King's written, as Gray attempts, reconsiders, maneuvers, loses his nerve, regains it. ... In the end, we lost a confessional voice so brilliant, it become iconic in 20th century America. And we lost the artful distancing that would have made his suicide bearable."
--Jeannette Cooperman, St. Louis Magazine (November 7, 2011)
AN UNCERTAIN INHERITANCE: WRITERS ON CARING FOR FAMILY
"Read this book slowly and discover nuggets of wisdom. ... At the end of the day, after the heartbreak and the humor, the dignity and the grace of these 'caregivers,' you'll want to stand and cheer."
-- Frank McCourt
UNHOLY GHOST: WRITERS ON DEPRESSION
"These essays address depression with notable sanity and stylistic elegance, exploring the debilitating conditions that fall under the depression umbrella more strongly than any single memoir could."
-- Entertainment Weekly