Monday, September 15, 1980

England's IRON Magazine features two Richard Grayson stories

The English literary magazine Iron features two stories by Richard Grayson, "The Second Person" and "The Forthright Saga," in its current issue (#28, fall 1980).

Tuesday, July 29, 1980

New York Times letter by Richard Grayson: "Passengers for Sale"

Today, July 29, 1980, the New York Times features a letter to the editor by Richard Grayson, "Passengers for Sale":

New York Times

July 29, 1980

Passengers for Sale

To the Editor:

Unscrupulous people always take advantage of any new government regulation. Now that Mayor Koch has announced a ban, to begin Sept. 22, on single-passenger cars crossing the East River bridges during rush hours, how long will it be before some enterprising profiteer begins selling inflatable life-size dummies to lone motorists about to enter Manhattan from Brooklyn or Queens?

How will the police check for phony, non-human passengergs? A breathalyzer test to see if they’re breathing? And when government interference in our lives goes this far, who are the real dummies?

Rockaway Park, N.Y., July 24, 1980

Tuesday, July 8, 1980

Bellingham Review reviews Richard Grayson's WITH HITLER IN NEW YORK

The Summer 1980 issue of the Bellingham Review has a review of Richard Grayson’s With Hitler in New York on pages 48-49:

Book Review by Richard Dills

WITH HITLER IN NEW YORK AND OTHER STORIES, by Richard Grayson, Taplinger Publishing Company, New York, 1979, 190 pp., $7.95 (cloth).

Richard Grayson’s fictions in With Hitler in New York are marked by comic exuberance and sympathy. But they also raise the question: can an author be too playful for his own good? Don’t misunderstand, there is a lot to like in this exceptionally readable book ; it’s just that some of the pieces lack resonance because the author at times too much enjoys the sound of his own voice. Which may explain Grayson’s fondness for puns. An example from “What Really Happened in Cambodia”:
“We’ve got to find a nook or a cranny to hide out in tonight or we’re doomed,” says one refugee to his wife.

“But I don’t see a cranny,” she cries. “And I certainly don’t Sihanouk.”

And there are plenty more where that came from. In most of his stories Grayson uses a “patchwork” device wherein the story is pieced together with bits of dialogue, revery, incongruous observation and all-purpose non-sequiturs. This technique seems particularly appropriate for comedy, as it tends to emphasize absurdity and encourage puns and one-liners. It does not work as well—with one exception—with serious pieces unless fragmentation and loss of wholeness is essential to the story.

But, to the stories.

The despair and prurient interest of the personal ads we’ve all read in The Village Voice if not in our own hometown dailies is nicely captured in “Classified Personal.” And there are some nice ironies:
Love! Love! Love! Who’s got it to give? Lonely, love-starved W/M, 21, affectionate, handsome, muscular and understanding seeks guy with boyish good looks and smooth body for lasting relationship. Write OCCUPANT, Box 44, Carteret, N.J. 07915

“Occupant” seems just about right. But, even though the rest of the 37 or so personals carry the same degree of authenticity and/or irony, the piece as a whole escaped me. With two or three exceptions, the order of the personals appear to be just as random as that of a newspaper’s. The point, of course, is that Grayson has a significantly different audience—or, if not—at least an audience with significantly different expectations. (I will argue this point.) The author, then, must be more than a typesetter.

In “‘Go Not to Lethe’ Celebrates Its 27th Anniversary,” we discover a character named Grayson Richards who portrays a character in “GNTL” named Richard Grayson. The danger of such a story—aside from cuteness—is that by reducing a life to the commercially dictated structure of the daytime soap opera, the author risks the criticism often leveled at the soaps: that they entertain by trivializing serious emotional and ethical questions. I think Grayson just gets by here because even while his story raised these kinds of questions, I enjoyed reading the story. Also, I think it’s because the story is near the end of a volume full of comic invention, and read in that context “GNTL” has a place as a bit of extended tomfoolery.

“The Princess of the Land of Porcelain,” a non-comic piece, is a different story altogether. Here, idea and technique blend perfectly. In this story, fragmentation and loss of wholeness is the point. Leslie, a career woman, cannot resolve the conflict between her desire for freedom and her need to be taken care of. Leslie and her friends share the same beliefs, the same lifestyle, almost the same life.

However, her fears and her dreams separate her from her husband, Evan, and her lover, Ken. Even so, it is hard for Leslie to change or escape, for on the face of it she has what she wants:
. . . Evan was too involved with Sari to intrude on Leslie’s business. There were private things that did not require any discussions between them. Leslie and her husband operated on trust. They both had lots of psychic space. Everyone did. Ken had his Senate page, apart from Leslie. Sari was living with a radical therapist who rather liked Evan. It was all in the open.

Open and convenient, but lacking that sense of belonging and commitment which Leslie—to her own surprise—finds she needs but with the open-spacers regard with anathema. When her lover informs her that he is leaving town, Leslie is “. . . surprised at how surprised she was.” She does not, of course, make a scene or ask him to stay, but later that night she has nightmares even though she cannot fall asleep. She lies in bed with a cold, half-awake, half-asleep, feeling guilty because she wants to be taken care of.

“The Princess from the Land of Porcelain” shows Grayson at his best as he combines material with technique to produce a story with telling sympathy. If good stories make you think and make you care, then this is one of them.

Wednesday, May 28, 1980

New York Times letter by Richard Grayson: "Anderson Carter's Lot"

Today, Wednesday, May 28, 1980, the New York Times published a letter by Richard Grayson, "Anderson Carter's Lot":
To the Editor:

A recent report noting that Ronald Reagan's field director has resigned speculates about the reasons for the abrupt change in campaign personnel.

It seems clear to me that the former field director, Anderson Carter, probably left because his name, Anderson Carter, combined the surnames of Mr. Reagan’s two opponents for the Presidency. Through no fault of his own, Anderson Carter obviously was an embarrassment to the Reagan campaign.

Rockaway Park, N.Y, May 23, 1980

Wednesday, May 14, 1980

Chicago Sun-Times features Roger Simon column on Richard Grayson's registering the Nixon/Agnew in '80 Committee with Federal Election Commission

Today, Wednesday, May 14, 1980, the Chicago Sun-Times features a page 4 column by Roger Simon, "Dick, Spiro: The Look-Back Ticket," about Richard Grayson's registering the Nixon/Agnew in '80 Committee with the Federal Election Commission.

A related item appeared on the New York Post's Page Six.

Tuesday, April 22, 1980

HANGING LOOSE #37 features fiction by Richard Grayson: "Dreamspace" and "Rapscallion Days"

Hanging Loose, the Brooklyn-based literary magazine, has two stories by Richard Grayson in issue #37 (Spring 1980): "Rapscallion Days" and "Dreamspace."

Saturday, April 19, 1980

Miami Herald's People Column features item on Richard Grayson taking refuge at the Pervuvian Consulate and demanding passage to Miami

Today, Saturday, April 19, 1980, the Miami Herald's People Column, written by Jay Maeder, features an item, "Candidate Wants Passage to Miami":

IN NEW YORK CITY, meanwhile, vice presidential candidate Richard Grayson -- Grayson is the guy who has promised that if elected he will name Fred Silverman to the presidency -- has taken refuge at the Pervuvian Consulate and is demanding safe passage to Miami. "I can't take these horrible conditions any more," says Grayson, citing "the brutalities of the Mayor Koch regime" and a general standard of living comparable to "being trapped in a room with Tom Snyder." He urges Miamians to express solidarity by honking their car horns.

The Mill reviews Richard Grayson's WITH HITLER IN NEW YORK

The Maryland literary magazine The Mill has published a review of Richard Grayson’s With Hitler in New York in its sixth issue (1980):

With Hitler in New York, by Richard Grayson. Taplinger, 188 pp., $7.95.

Some basically nice people cross the pages of this, Grayson’s first full-length collection of stories. They could be your next-door neighbors; indeed, if you live in a Jewish neighborhood in New York City, they may very well be your next door neighbors. The people are very nice people, ones you would be pleased to see succeed and be happy. But they won’t be, and that is what is so sad. Life will see to it that they can’t be happy.

Life starts the grinding down process at a very early age. Grayson repeatedly returns to the traumas of childhood. One story that illustrates this point, an example even more pathetic because it is highly ignoble, is “Infant Sorrow”:
When he was very young he was very constipated. Sometimes he did not go to the bathroom for weeks. His grandmother would cry that the boy’s appendix must be on fire. They gave him malt-flavored syrup to put in his milk. And raisin bran. And thermometers. And sometimes they would give him glycerin suppositories too.
In the summer people would come into his grandmother’s bungalow to watch him straining at the stool. The bathroom door would be wide open and sometimes people would bring their guests for a weekend barbeque. They wanted to see this boy that had such trouble going to the bathroom.

Success, when it comes, is not all it’s cracked up to be:
When there was a bowel movement, his grandmother would make a party. It was more for the adults than for him.

Grayson’s stories are replete with ignoble events. But life is more than merely ignoble. It can also be cruel. It wounds people. The Grayson narrator is often in therapy. Many of his characters are in therapy. Ann, in “Aspects of Ann,” finds life complicated due to relationships:
“I don’t want to fall in love again,” she told her mother.
“Nonsense,” her mother said. “One day it’ll happen and you’ll be happy like everyone else.”
Ann decided it was wiser not to respond to that.

People are trying to connect with each other, but failing. In “Classified Personal,” the poignancy of this failure comes through ads placed by people looking to meet other persons for sexual or other kinds of rendezvous. In “The Princess from the Land of Porcelain,” Leslie discovers love only at the end of the story, and then only in a dream. The story ends: “She stirred out of sleep. She tried to get back into the dream.”

Life cruelly dashes the dreams of the characters in these stories. The characters are nice people; the world, on the other hand, is not nice. Grayson’s stories, of course, contain much more than I’ve been discussing here. I’ve been following this line of argument because I have a thesis concerning Grayson, namely that the impulse behind his work is social criticism. That thesis would explain the repeated use he makes of pathos. Pathos debases the world in order to criticize it. Characters caught in such a world fail or suffer due to no fault of their own—if anything, such characters are too good for the world they inhabit, possessing virtues, a delicate sensibility, that make it impossible to adapt to the debased world. They suffer because the world is flawed. Seeing the pathetic fall of the characters makes the reader want to rise in opposition to the world, thus achieving the goals of Grayson’s social criticism.
Kevin Urick

Friday, April 18, 1980

Smudge Review reviews FIRST PERSON INTENSE edited by Sasha Newborn

The spring 1980 issue of Smudge Review has a review by Hank Malone of First Person Intense, an anthology of prose edited by Sasha Newborn, featuring work by Richard Grayson, Hugh Fox, Charles Bukowski, Richard Kostelanetz, Rochelle Holt Dubois and other writers.

Tuesday, March 11, 1980

Fiction International reviews Richard Grayson's WITH HITLER IN NEW YORK

Fiction International reviews Richard Grayson's With Hitler in New York in its current issue:

Fiction International

Issue 12 (1980)

pp. 284-285

Richard Grayson, With Hitler in New York


"If you have any complaints about With Hitler in New York," the author declares in his dust jacket copy, "address them to the anarchist whose bomb snuffed out the life of the Czar. I take no responsibility for this." This incident, according to Richard Grayson, "led to the Russian pogroms and to the anti-Semitic May laws of 1882." To these latter events, Grayson claims that we owe the myriad contributions of Jewish people to American culture: from Woody Allen and Lenny Bruce to Al Jolson and the Ziegfeld follies; from Nathanael West and Philip Roth to Father Coughlin; and from Mark Spitz to the condominium culture of southern Florida." And last, but presumably not least, to that sequence of events we can attribute this book of stories by Richard Grayson.

Perhaps Grayson should have included the Marx Brothers in his list, for it is their brand of zany humor which this collection frequently – though often unsuccessfully – endeavors to achieve. In the title story, a German character named Hitler visits friends in New York. Together, they do the ordinary things Americans routinely do, such as watch television, swim, and go out to dinner. In this anomaly lies the humor but also the failure of this story. It is amusing, certainly, to see Hitler as an ordinary tourist. Yet it is also disappointing, especially to the reader of Ishmael Reed, E.L. Doctorow, and other contemporary writers who have given us such memorable and outrageously hilarious treatments of historical figures in fictional settings. The mere title "With Hitler in New York" creates expectations which the story fails to satisfy.

It is worth noting that despite its title, this book does not belong on the growing list of works which have recently taken a serious interest in the personalities and/or victims of the Third Reich. (Aside from the countless popular novels on Third Reich themes, there have been such works by a number of highly regarded writers: Sophie's Choice by William Styron, The F├╝hrer Bunker by W.D. Snodgrass, and several poems from Ai's recent book, The Killing Floor, just to name a few.) It is certainly appropriate that serious writers are becoming concerned with the consequences of fascist thought and practice. This being he case, Grayson's deadpan treatment of Hitler comes across as, at best, cute.

Cuteness is frequently a shortcoming among these stories. Often, clever ideas are not adequately developed. Consequently, some stories such as "Chief Justice Burger, Teen Idol," "Classified Personal," and "The Finest Joe Colletti Story Ever Written (So Far)" seem facile.

Yet some of these pieces are successful. "Lincoln on the Couch" is a skillful portrait of the sixteenth President; and while it may be implausible as history, the story effectively presents an unexpected view of Lincoln as something other than epoch-making paradigm. "But In a Thousand Other Worlds" is perhaps the most successful of the humorous pieces. It is the story of a mediocre story that strives to be published. In the course of its odyssey, "But in a Thousand Other Worlds" is condemned as immoral by John Gardner. It retaliates by biting Gardner on the leg.

Despite his preoccupation with nihilist humor, Grayson is at his best in his serious pieces. "Wednesday Night at Our House," "The Princess from the Land of Porcelain," and "Kirchbachstrasse 121, 2800 Bremen" are the strongest stories in the book. All of them sensitively probe the dynamics of personalities and relationships.

David Lionel Smith

Thursday, February 7, 1980

The Ventura County News reviews Richard Grayson's WITH HITLER IN NEW YORK

The latest Ventura County News (February 4, 1980) features a review of Richard Grayson's With Hitler in New York:

The Ventura County News

Book Beat

A Superb Mixture

by Lynne Gagnon

With Hitler in New York, by Richard Grayson (Toplinger [sic] Publishing Company, $7.95)

Richard Grayson offers us a comc relief collection of timely, well-designed stories.

Grayson cite the anarchist's bomb that killed Czar Alexander II in St. Petersburg, 1881, leading to many influences in America, namely "the comedy of Woody Allen and Lenny Bruce; the popularity of psychoanalysis;. . . the fact that it is no longer considered good form to use the word 'Jew' as a verb meaning 'to bargain'. . . and to my being here in these United States, to my becoming a fiction writer, to my writing this book, and ultimately to your reading it."

The 27 stories in With Hitler in New York are a generous blend of Kurt , Vonnegut, Woody Allen, Erma Bombeck and Fran Lebowitz, combined with shell steak, Brussels sprouts, a case of shingles, therapy sessions, an uncle who speaks like Donald Duck because of radiation treatments, an ex-lover turned gay (probably because of you) and a Truffaut double feature at the Carnegie Hall Cinema.

Favorite stories include "Classified Personal," "The Art of Living," "Driving Slow," "Wednesday Night at Our House" and "Chief Justice Burger, Teen Idol."

From "The Art of Living":
"You go to visit your grandmother in the hospital. . . In the next room you can hear people talking about you. 'He's a real prick,' somebody says. You can hear another person nodding."

From "Classified Personal":
"To Tired of Being Hurt: I'm a W/F 18 who loves, absolutely adores. . . The Eagles. Springsteen is great too! You appeal to me as a warm human being who wants to share that warmth. Come and be a part of a friendship that can stand up against the cruel stabs of the world. Reply to You'll Never Cry. . ."

"HELP!! I'm a guy trapped in a girl's body! I intend to change surgically. I need friends with the same problems. . . LOOKING FOR AN ECHO!"

From "Wednesday Night at Our House":
"What does David want his mother not to do?
David tells her not to drive his father's 1971 Buick Century, or at least to drive it to the Skyland Shopping Mall once a day and no more.
Why does he say this?
Because David's mother has had arthritis for many years and has not driven a car since 1971; because she is going deaf and getting senile; because David fears that she will kill herself or other residents of North Miami Beach."

From "Slowly, Slowly in the Wind":
"We watch Farrah Fawcett-Majors trying to sell us a car. 'Don't you think she's got a foreign accent?' Grandpa asks. Nobody answers him. We are all eating our junk food. . . Another teaser for the news: 'Coming up next. A building crane falls and kills a little girl.' 'Oh, look,' Great-Grandma Chaikah says, 'that's the one they didn't show last night at eleven.'"

Richard Grayson gets the prize for making us laugh at the ridiculous insanity surrounding our lives. But the award is two-fold, as he also forces us to examine people and what they do to us. And more importantly, what we do to them.

With Hitler in New York is a superb mixture of comedy, drama, satire and philosophy. This book will not remain on your bookshelf long. If it is not read several times, it will be passed on to others and others and others. It might be a good idea to keep two on hand.

(Lynne Gagnon is a local free lance writer.)

Saturday, February 2, 1980

San Francisco Chronicle reports on Richard Grayson's plan to neutralize Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini

Today, Saturday, February 2, 1980, the San Francisco Chronicle features an article, "A Drive to Put Khomeini in Congress":

Washington - A New York City author believes he has found a way to neutralize the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: elect him to Congress.

"Then he would be as ineffective as any other congressman," said Richard Grayson, treasurer of the "Ayatollah for Congress Committee."

Grayson has duly registered the committee with the Federal Election Commission here, declaring the Iranian religious leader a candidate for the 11th Congressional District in Brooklyn. Grayson also complied with the FEC's campaign financing rules, reporting, "we have taken in no money and spent even less."

The ayatollah was listed as a Democrat.

- Associated Press

Anchorage Daily News reports on Richard Grayson's Plan to Run Ayatollah Khomeini for Congress

Today, Saturday, February 2, 1980, the Anchorage Daily News features an article, "Ayatollah Runs for Congress," about Richard Grayson's plan to neutralize the supreme religious leader of Iran:

Associated Press

Washington - A New York City author believes he has found a way to neutralize the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini: elect him to Congress.

"Then he would be as ineffective as any other congressman," said Richard Grayson, treasurer of the "Ayatollah for Congress Committee."

Grayson has duly registered the committee with the Federal Election Commission here, declaring the Iranian religious leader a candidate for the 11th Congressional District in Brooklyn. Grayson also complied with the FEC's campaign financing rules, reporting, "we have taken in no money and spent even less."

The ayatollah was listed as a Democrat.

Wednesday, January 16, 1980

The Hollywood (Fla.) Sun-Tattler reviews Richard Grayson's WITH HITLER IN NEW YORK and publishes feature article "He Wants to Be a Celebrity"

The Hollywood (Fla.) Sun-Tattler reviews Richard Grayson's With Hitler in New York in today's issue:

Hollywood (Florida) Sun-Tattler

Wednesday, January 16, 1980

Book Review

Story Collection Uneven

"With Hitler in New York," by Richard Grayson.

Taplinger Publishing Company, New York , $7.95.


Richard Grayson is a bright young man, a new resident of Broward County and a not-so serious candidate for the vice presidency. (He's not old enough to qualify.)

He is a writer. "With Hitler in New York" is a collection of off-beat short stories. Some of them are a little too short – on entertainment value, ability to hold interest and good writing style. Grayson is intrigued by The Big Name, as in Adolph Hitler, Abe Lincoln and more currently known celebrities like Alan King, Betty Friedan and Beverly Sills.

His literary treatment of today's famous is much more enjoyable than what he writes about past figures of both ill and good repute.

The title story, in the first person, is an exceptionally strange little treatise on what Adolph Hitler would do if he was a tourist in New York City today. If it's supposed to be funny, it fails. If it's supposed to be one of those "what-would-Hitler-do-if-he-were-alive-today" pieces, it isn't. It's just a dumb, quite pointless story.

So, in a slightly less offensive way, is "Lincoln on the Couch," which depicts dear old Abe as an unloved, cuckolded bigot. This isn't even revisionist history at its worst conjecture, but at least the story deals in more reality than Hitler on a search for a good Chinese restaurant in the Big Apple.

Grayson should forget about rewriting history and stick at looking at the present with a surprisingly loving and sensitive eye-view. His introduction is a neat little tribute to his uncle, with whom he shared good talk and good marijuana, and his first girlfriend. It's funny, a little poignant and easy to understand and relate to. You remember what Grayson ruefully says about himself long after what he imagined about Hitler and Lincoln.

In another too brief look at what he knows, "Peninsular People," Grayson paints a pretty little stretch of sand inhabited by residents everyone would like as neighbors. It's the kind of thing we'd all like to write about our favorite place of being.

This is a very uneven collection of stories by a talented writer who hasn't quite figured out what he's best at yet.

Thursday, January 10, 1980

Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reports on Richard Grayson's Candidacy for Vice President

The Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel reports today (Thursday, January 10, 1980) on Richard Grayson's candidacy for Vice President.

Sunday, January 6, 1980

Miami Herald reports on Richard Grayson's Candidacy for Vice President

The Miami Herald today (Sunday, January 6, 1980) reports on Richard Grayson's candidacy for Vice President.