shades of grey


How many secrets can one person have, especially a person who has made a living out of spilling them, ruthlessly mining his own experience for autobiographical monologues that brought him no small amount of fame and fortune? Not many, it would seem. But if you’re Spalding Gray, the writer and performer of self-revealing one-man performances such as Swimming to Cambodia and Gray’s Anatomy, you can have private secrets within performed secrets, unspoken confessions behind the public ones. That, at any rate, is what emerges from the pages of Gray’s journals, a document of wrenching and exhilarating honesty, shot through with self-hatred but also with unremitting humor and several shades of irony. Once you start reading, the book draws you in with its dire, lunatic brand of introspection, almost as though you were listening to an emergency phone call from a close friend who can’t, or won’t, hang up until he’s done detailing all the reasons why he’s a fraud and why his life sucks and why it’s high time he put an end to it.

more from Daphne Merkin at Bookforum here.