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The Journals of Spalding Gray
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The Journals of Spalding Gray

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  145 ratings  ·  35 reviews
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 c...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published October 18th 2011 by Vintage (first published January 1st 2011)
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Angie
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 an...more
Christian Clarke
December 28, 2011

Today 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....more
Tony
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 p...more
Ghym

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,...more
Porkpie
This was a heartbreaker, in more 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 deve...more
Kevin
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.
Paula Dembeck
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 inc...more
Pavol
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. T...more
James
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 Reneé Sha...more
Kate
Aug 07, 2013 Kate added it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
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 nar...more
Ben Richmond
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 more readable form elsewhere. I don't think that these ar...more
Eric Cartier
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 more 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.
Kasandra
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 more 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...more
Suzanne Arcand
I seem to always give an extra point to non fiction.
Monica
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.
Kyle
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 more 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.
Moneen Daley Harte
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 more 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.

Michelle Cahill
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.
Bill
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.
Laurel
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.
Maggie
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.
Todd baron
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?
Doug
Painfully sad. You know that Gray is performing for us. But he is patron saint of modern melancholia, and a knight-poet fighting against internal hordes. This is a significant book.
Billycongo
Very difficult book to read, even though you know how it's going to end. Not what I was expecting. I would only recommend to people who are extremely interested in him.
John Moretz
Jan 17, 2012 John Moretz rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Writers, Performers, Creative People
Fascinating and sad. This book offers readers a chance to be in the mind of America's finest writer-monologist. Highly recommended.
Geof Huth
For a long quasi review go here.
Laura
I'm not giving it no stars, I just find it difficult to rate this, so I'm not.
Linda Atkinson
ALERT: Very, very sad, but a powerful read just the same.
David
Great exploration of his talent but sad, sad, sad!!!
Jesse
Fascinating but, ultimately, a rough ride.
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Spalding Gray was an American actor, screenwriter, performance artist, and playwright.
More about Spalding Gray...
Swimming to Cambodia Impossible Vacation Monster in a Box Sex and Death to the Age 14 Gray's Anatomy

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