The Journals of Spalding Gray

A viral Books The Journals of Spalding Gray the best work Riveting funny heartbreaking at once raw and lyrical these journals reveal the complexity of the actor writer who invented the autobiograph

A viral Books The Journals of Spalding Gray the best work Riveting, funny, heartbreaking, at once raw and lyrical these journals reveal the complexity of the actor writer who invented the autobiographical monologue and perfected the form in such celebrated works as Swimming to Cambodia.Here is the first intimate portrait we have of the man behind the charismatic performer who ended his life in 2004 evolving artist, conflicted cRiveting, funny, heartbreaking, at once raw and lyrical these journals reveal the complexity of the actor writer who invented the autobiographical monologue and perfected the form in such celebrated works as Swimming to Cambodia.Here is the first intimate portrait we have of the man behind the charismatic performer who ended his life in 2004 evolving artist, conflicted celebrity, a man struggling for years with depression before finally succumbing to its most desperate impulse Begun when he was twenty five, the journals give us Gray s reflections on his childhood his craving for success the downtown New York arts scene of the 1970s his love affairs, marriages and fatherhood his travels in Europe and Asia and throughout, his passion for the theater, where he worked to balance his compulsion to tell all with his terror of having his deepest secrets exposed.Culled from than five thousand pages and including interviews with friends, colleagues, lovers, and family, The Journals of Spalding Gray gives us a haunting portrait of a creative genius who we thought had told us everything about himself until now.. The best Book The Journals of Spalding Gray So just who was Spalding Gray? I think his agent puts it best when she says: "He was somebody who could experience the same boring thing as you and then spin a story from it that made you realize just how interesting it had all been." He did this through one-man shows which were the perfect showcases for his crazy personality. Spalding Gray’s stories were full of dark humor, sarcasm, neurosis, hypochondria and the occasional deep observation. In other words, he was Woody Allen or Jerry Seinfeld, by way of Rhode Island.In this age of special effects, one marvels at how he entertained so simply. He didn't employ fancy costumes or scenery but the audience was fascinated by the way he described his world because he was nothing short of a master storyteller. He knew what to exaggerate, what to downplay, where to put a witty line. His timing was impeccable. He began his career in experimental theater in the late 60s. He cofounded the Wooster Group, a theater company that still survives today, and it was there that he learned how to be himself on stage. Still, he spent some time floundering around, not sure if he wanted to be an actor or a child psychologist or even a porn star.His career path finally became apparent when he created his first solo show in 1979, Sex and Death to the Age 14. From that point on, he was off and running, with Swimming to Cambodia in 1983 shooting him into the stratosphere. Swimming To Cambodia was about his experience being an actor in the political drama The Killing Fields. It was his unique take on Cambodian culture, and even though it was an unlikely subject to garner popular appeal, it worked. The monologue was also made into a somewhat popular film. He soon appeared on Letterman and moved effortlessly from the downtown world to the uptown one, at Lincoln Center. He appeared as a character actor on films (like Beaches) and in TV (like the Nanny). On stage, he occasionally performed other people’s work: such as in the 2000 Broadway revival of the Best Man.In his 50s he discovered the joy of parenthood when he settled down with Kathie Russo, a woman he originally began having an affair with. He had two boys with her, and was quite happy and settled when he got into a car accident. The car accident didn't kill him but it took a hefty physical and emotional toll. Already a depressive person, the son of a mother who committed suicide, Gray suffered extensive brain injuries that pushed him down into a despair so deep he couldn't see his way out. He constantly threatened to kill himself and made several attempts. He was also in a great deal of physical pain, and upset about having sold a beloved house. His wife tried to save him by getting him psychiatric treatment--even ECT--but nothing worked. In January 2004, he jumped from the Staten Island Ferry. His wife thought him missing, but two months later his body turned up in Greenpoint. Here was a man who referenced water in one of his most beloved works and ironically, it’s the same way he died. Almost two years ago, a documentary was made of his life called And Everything Is Going Fine, directed by his friend and onetime boss, Steve Soderbergh. It used his old recorded monologues and interviews to tell the story of his life. And there was an off-Braodway production about his life called Stories Left to Tell, not to mention a memorial book called Life Interrupted. There is also a sort of biography called Spalding Gray’s America, which is worth seeking out. His life affected so many people, and he was such an influence in the theatrical world, that it’s not surprising there are so many tributes to him.And here is another one. Gray was scrupulous about journal keeping, writing from the late 60s to days before he died. The book is broken up chronologicallly, with each decade getting a chapter and an intro. In all the pages Gray writes as though he is speaking to an imaginary psychiatrist. Despite Casey's suggestion that he wanted these published, I doubt the journals were ever intended for that purpose. They are not polished at all. It seems like they were just a way for him to work things out in his head. The most fascinating parts are when he's torn between Russo and girlfriend Renee Shafransky in the 1990s. Shafransky was the woman who helped propel him to stardom. He seemed to gravitate towards women who wanted to be involved in his career. He goes back and forth between the two women until Russo tells him she is pregnant. At first he encourages her to have an abortion but finally he accepts and even loves being a parent. We get a sense of a man who had to be dragged kicking and screaming into fatherhood and commitment, and then realizes these are the two best things to ever happen to him. The slide into decline after the accident is obviously hard to read. He really did not want to be alive by the end, even though he seemed to have so much going for him—friends, family, work. It is a document of madness as Gray obsesses over a house he has let go. Based on these pages, he seems to have had OCD in addition to the depression. The Cambodia section and the parenthood stuff will be familiar to those who have seen his monologues, but there are aspects here that he didn't go into much detail about on stage. His struggle to figure out his sexual orientation is really interesting. Though mostly heterosexual, he has dalliances with men in gay bathhouses. For the most part he doesn’t fret or worry about these experiences, like some men might. Mostly, he opens himself up to the possibility that he may not be 100% straight (although there is one moment when he freaks out about it a little, and he worries about AIDS). The book is punctuated with interviews of people Gray knew in his life, and autobiographical data, to help put it all in perspective. For the most part, I think Nell Casey did a good job. The only thing I would have done different is delete some of the dreams Gray writes about. Reading about someone else's dreams is just really boring, regardless of who it is, and I don’t think these dreams reveal much about his personality or psychiatric state. I also think it’s great that his widow wasn’t emotionally threatened by some of the private things he reveals here, and that she allowed Casey free reign.I'm not sure I would suggest this to someone who didn't know Gray's work. I think for those people, you need to start with his performances, which as I mentioned are all on film. Even for someone who knows his work and life story, I often found the journals a little hard to follow. There’s a real stream-of-consciousness feel sometimes that defies understanding.As much as I enjoyed reading this book, it is a heavy, depressing, haunting experience. It is hard to read about all the successes and good times he had, and about his family, knowing how it is going to end. It's also odd to read private journals when we don't know whether the dead person would have wanted us to be reading it. The journal pages often read like rough drafts of his shows, and there is nothing more embarrassing for a writer than to have someone read an unedited rough draft. Still, I'm happy we have this, since I think we lost an amazing talent when we lost Spalding Gray and this book gives us a more complete picture of the man who had the theater world at his feet, simply by sitting behind a plain wooden desk, drinking a glass of water, and telling us all about his crazy life.
The Journals of Ayn Rand Rand, Ayn, Peikoff, Leonard From Journals of Ayn Rand, we gain an invaluable new understanding and appreciation of the woman, the artist, and the philosopher, and of the enduring legacy she has left us.Rand comes vibrantly to life as an untried screenwriter in Hollywood, creating stories that reflect her youthful vision of the world. The Journals of Lewis and Clark Lewis Clark Expedition The Journals of Lewis and Clark are the first report on the West, on the United States over the hill and beyond the sunset, on the province of the American future Bernard DeVoto In , the great expanse of the Louisiana Purchase was an empty canvas. The Journals of Knud Rasmussen Rotten Tomatoes Oct , Despite its faults as a film, Journals stands alone You simply cannot go elsewhere this year for self expressed insights into the lives of people of Canada s north. The Journals of Lewis and Clark by Meriwether Lewis The Journals of Lewis and Clark are the first report on the West, on the United States over the hill and beyond the sunset, on the province of the American future Bernard DeVoto In , the great expanse of the Louisiana Purchase was an empty canvas Keenly aware that the course of the nation s destiny lay westward and that a Voyage of Discovery would be necessary t

  1. Spalding Gray was an American actor, screenwriter, performance artist, and playwright.

106 Reply to “The Journals of Spalding Gray”

  1. So just who was Spalding Gray I think his agent puts it best when she says He was somebody who could experience the same boring thing as you and then spin a story from it that made you realize just how interesting it had all been He did this through one man shows which were the perfect showcases for his crazy personality Spalding Gray s stories were full of dark humor, sarcasm, neurosis, hypochondria and the occasional deep observation In other words, he was Woody Allen or Jerry Seinfeld, by way [...]

  2. This was a heartbreaker, in ways than one I had a ton of respect for Spalding Gray growing up I loved his work, his art, and to this day I secretly harbor the dream that I could also be a monologist But reading his journals revealed another man entirely nearly a complete reprobate, with hideous levels of self absorption and a near psychopathic approach to intimate relationships The stars fell from the sky right quick after reading this book.But somehow, I couldn t put it down I developed a sort [...]

  3. Ugh, I m not really sure how to rate or review this I have a thing for Spalding Gray I can t even really describe what that thing is One of my favorite life events ever is seeing him dance to Chumbawamba on stage, boombox in hand, the whole audience cracking up I love the guy This journal I kept thinking, Should I be reading this Would he have wanted this published I don t know Ultimately probably But it is so sad Sad and self absorbed although I guess a journal wouldn t be any other way Obsessi [...]

  4. December 28, 2011Today I wandered around Washington Square park with Stephon and Gish, and we talked about the emptiness of art and performance, I asked them if I they I thought I confessed too much when I performed my monologues, and they said, no, of course not Clucky, you always confess just enough, but we wish you d stop performing under blankets I agreed, but how else to express the modern condition Afterwards we went to Stephon s loft on Prince street for an early nap and then cocktails Co [...]

  5. Brilliant, tortured, whiny, and self absorbed, Gray was all of that Having seen him perform one of his monologues, read his books, and watched Swimming to Cambodia, and loved all of them, I was surprised by how much I disliked him as portrayed in his journals the obsession with sex, drinking, and himself And yet, his journal entries went a long way toward explaining both his art and his eventual suicide.

  6. THE JOURNALS OF SPALDING GRAY 2011 Nell Casey ed I ve been a long time Gray fan, and was even lucky enough to catch one of his performances live I think that his film, Swimming to Cambodia is a classic and should be on everyone s must see list One word of caution before reading this collection from his journals if you are at all depressed, don t start it It is filled with highly introspective prose that mostly centers on Gray s mental state at the time The journals span the period from the 1960s [...]

  7. Compulsively readable Warning if you are at all even a teensy bit neurotic, while you are reading this, you will become FAR MORE neurotic, over thinking the smallest things I had to put this down repeatedly because it was so honest and painful and depression inducing But it s also funny and insightful I am sure some fans of Gray s won t like him any after reading this he certainly could be an asshole, and he admits it But to see what anxiety and confusion were transformed into in his stage art [...]

  8. I couldn t finish these, so this isn t a true review It s an explanation of why I didn t finish a book I selected and paid for I love journals and I admire a lot of Spalding Gray s work in his monologues But these journals lack an observation of the outside world or any real insight into the world inside Grey s head They are banal with ambition and narcissism and whining I suspect Grey may need the instrument of his voice WIthout it, he can t really fully express his talent.

  9. These journals reveal the inner life of this actor writer performer who struggled several years with depression and ended his life in his early 60s The journals begin when he is 25, include his childhood, his craving for success, the New York art scene in the early 70s, and his love affairs, marriages and travels.Towards the end of his life, an automobile accident left him with physical disabilities and brain damage, and thus began his downward spiral towards suicide These times are marked incre [...]

  10. For some reason it took me a while to admit I am giving up on this book I read around a third and realized that this is really not for me I doubt this incessant, self centered, neurotic whining was ever meant for public consumption, but if it were, it probably wouldn t entice anyone who already was not a Spalding Gray fan to begin with Not that I think that Gray is solely about narcissistic whining, but that s simply how these jottings come across to an uninitiated outsider to his oeuvre There w [...]

  11. Surprised that I enjoyed reading these as much as I did Prior to reading this book I was unfamiliar with Spalding Gray except as a punchline in a Simpsons episode A Milhouse Divided I just went ahead and assumed that his shtick was the same as Garrison Keillor s That is apparently not the case The thrilling thing is that every person with a Twitter account or Facebook, or Tumblr, or whatever is basically a little Spalding Gray, obsessed with the not me that occurs when relating the narrative of [...]

  12. Highly recommended for fans of Spalding Gray Nell Casey has deftly assembled Gray s journals, notes and tapes and interspersed explanatory passages to provide background and clarify some of Gray s arcane references She has also included helpful excerpts from interviews conducted with Kathleen Russo, Elizabeth LeCompte, Willem Dafoe, Eric Begosian, Steven Soderbergh, Jonathan Demme, and Spalding s brothers Rockwell and Channing The one disappointment, no fault of Ms Casey s, is that Rene Shafrans [...]

  13. I love Spalding Gray, but I m not sure I wanted to read his journals They re not terribly different from the work he published during his lifetime except that they re much darker and rougher I guess it makes sense that someone s then private journals would be the outlet for those thoughts that he couldn t otherwise find an outlet for, but that still raises the question Why read them when Gray has given so much of himself to us in a readable form elsewhere I don t think that these are any or le [...]

  14. Of course, not a very pleasant read but an interesting experience of going deep under the psychic skin of a very brilliant narcissist I think what surprised me was the extent to which Gray was compulsive and fairly thoughtless about his constant need to find sex and have affairs I wonder how much his fame played a role in his behavior.Gray s becoming a father helped him for once to care about other people I found this part of his life very touching.

  15. My brother gave me this at Christmas, hoping I d find a few gems in it Having kept journals off and on since I was 15, and having written freely in them, I found than a few in Gray s moments of beauty, self laceration, genuine wonder, flip nonchalance, and attempts to fix in print those fleeting seconds minutes hours that transform our days Gray s decline was difficult to learn about, but the editor handled it well I d recommend this to anyone who examines their lives in writing.

  16. If the thought of venturing into the mind of a brilliant, narcissistic, disturbingly tragic figure, appeals to you, you ll enjoy this book The selection of journal entries and editorial notes contextualizing them make the book interesting and add a flow to it, saving it from being a meandering expression of pure id And, in many respects the best part of the book is seeing the world of an actor writer artist living a bohemian life in Soho in the 80s and 90s.

  17. The drips and drabs diary of monologist Spalding Gray, nicely contextualized by Kathie Russo an ex and Nell Casey a friend The revelation is that Gray, while a public confessor, still harboured a sizeable secret life His long list of struggles from dyslexia to dipsomania, from bisexuality to bipolarity could only be temporarily assuaged, first by audiences, then by children The fate of tragic figure awaited hence, this diary of descent, which reads like Baby Boomer Poe.

  18. If you love Spalding, you will not be too surprised by this edited version of his journals They are compiled and presented with love While much of Spalding s intimate life has already been revealed, what we do learn, feel and benefit from is the even extraordinary influence and patience the women is his life gave him Elizabeth LeCompte got closer to him than anyone it would seem very beautiful art and love story.

  19. I really loved Spalding Gray s monologues and looked forward to his journals but was disappointed They were dull, repetitious and depressing Not enough humor to leaven the gloom and not a sign of his wit It was a hard slog to get through.First read March 14, 2015 I should have read my own first review before rereading but I didn t so reread and actually got out of the book the second time around A sad life but his journal was unique and very honest.

  20. Grueling, but ultimately worth it Nell Casey s chapter introductions added a lot of context and are beautifully and sensitively written If you are a fan of Gray s work, I recommend this If you are feeling at all emotionally fragile, though, save it for another time This is some super sad stuff.

  21. Don t mean to be harsh with a rating Seems to me that it would be an exceedingly small number of people that would really be interested in reading journal entries such as these Too bad for me this was on my list for a very long time.Again, if you re interested, you ll probably be interested Don t shy away from giving it a shot.

  22. Magnificent, there are times that it is difficult to read the blatant, honest self reflections It s almost as if Gray knew that one day his journals would be read by his fans and yet that did not stop him from revealing himself Totally and completely, Gray gives and gives and gives, the audience the reader his mirror Beautifully curated.

  23. another book that would have been better as a new yorker profile, which i am sure exists actually reading his diaries is not something i want to do the contextual information that describes his life as an artist, however, was interesting.

  24. amazing there s the honesty of the self which transcends him I m going through hard times and his words are like are like some truth to me also what other purpose is there to reading

  25. An interesting collection of observations and details in a creative persons life, mostly short entries on daily activities with wittiness, beauty and heartbreak.

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