Monday, May 17, 1982
The May 1982 issue of Best Sellers has a page 47 review of Richard Grayson's Lincoln's Doctor's Dog:
Lincoln's Doctor's Dog & Other Stories
White Ewe Press (PO Box 996, Adelphi, Md. 20783),
Despite my initial reservations regarding this volume when it reached me, I must confess I like Richard Grayson and his work. Yes, we are told that Grayson labored as a messenger at the Village Voice, a clerk at the Brooklyn Public Library, a delivery man for the Midtown Florist and the Canarsie Laundry; but Richard Grayson is a writer, currently transplanted to Broward Community College in Florida, but still a writer whose With Hitler in New York caused Rolling Stone to map it as the place "where avant-garde fiction goes when it turns into stand-up comedy."
These twenty-two fictions display a versatility which commands attention. And they are very much in the American grain -- that vein of autobiography which has been a constant from the beginning of our literary history down to the confessional mode of the recent mode of the recent past. The title tale, which is certainly captivating, pretends to be the biography of Lincoln's doctor's puppy who grows up to be elected to a state governorship and achieves fame as a lecturer. Grayson can parody human excess and human frailty, parent-child relationships, and recreate a 1960s scene with poignancy. There is even a dazzling memoir of George Washington's step-granddaughter. And in "Diarrhea of a Writer," Grayson exposes that pride and pain which are the nutrients of a writer's growth. The questions he wanted to ask Saul Bellow: "Did you ever doubt yourself? How do you know when you've written something important? Did you ever want to give up?" -- these all fade when the Nobel Laureate tells Grayson, "I'll look for you."
Richard Grayson has been found, at least by this reader, and found-out, too. From the evidence he is serious and comic, charming, given to outrageous puns, and a sharp-eyed observer of and participant in life's absudities. Permit me one academic correction -- it is Edwin (not Edward) Arlington Robinson, as found on page 75.
NICHOLAS J. LOPRETE, JR., specializes in American fiction at Fordham University, Bronx, New York.
BOGG Magazine has a review of Richard Grayson's Lincoln's Doctor's Dog in issue #49 (1982) by editor/publisher John Elsberg:
Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog, by Richard Grayson, White Ewe Press, PO Box 996, Adelphi, Md. 20783, 1987 pp., hdbk., $11.95.
Richard Grayson’s third collection of short stories proves that the magician’s hat is far from empty. I must confess that the lead-off story does little for me, but after that Grayson’s funnier than Steve Martin. His characters are troubled, ridiculous, and poignant with a capital P. They run the gamut from a lawyer who collects Time magazine covers, to Blanche “Spongecake” Bernstein, Patty Hearst imitators, and Sparky, Lincoln’s doctor’s dog (Sparky allows Grayson to roll that publishing canard about best sellers being books about Lincoln, doctors, or dogs, into one impossible alloy.) Grayson constantly loses control of his stories and his characters (reminiscent of Pirandello and Flann O’Brien) and they do or say things that reveal mischievous facets of their author’s personality. Or do they? Grayson is a sharpie. It’s impossible to tell how many layers we would have to peel away before we arrive at the real Grayson. We begin to believe that all of the characters are really him. We believe they are telling us the truth. That’s where the art comes in.
"Some orgasms are better than others," I tell my fiancee.
"So what?" she says.
– from “Roominations”
Grayson pumps his stories full of topical details. Everything from products (Tropicana), songs, films, t.v. shows, to news items (swine-flu shots, recipes), and all sorts of personalities (Yuri Gagarin, Van Johnson, Larry Flynt, John Gardner, Steve McQueen, et al.) to provide a cornucopia of everyday life in the US. He tops it off with outrageous puns. In this book we meet a boy who lives with a porpoise, another who goes to his first X-rated movie and falls in love with the star, still another who really gets involved with the calls he answers as a switchboard operator. But this book also contains three stories that are serious departures from anything I’ve seen in the past – “Early Warnings,” “Cross in the Water,” and “I, Eliza Custis” (the latter being the first-person story of George Washington’s granddaughter) are adventures in more traditional storytelling.
"Y'know, just living longer gives you confidence. . . That's one ting you'll find out here."
– from "18/X/1969"
The 22 stories in this beautiful black hardback do just that: we can count on Grayson to show us how to live from day to day.
Wednesday, May 5, 1982
Kirkus Reviews has a review of Richard Grayson's Lincoln's Doctor's Dog in its May 1, 1982 issue:
May 1, 1982
LINCOLN'S DOCTOR'S DOG
And Other Stories
White Ewe $11.95
5/5 LC: 81-69117
Grayson's two story collections--With Hitler in New York (1979) and this new one--together suggest the literary equivalent of a kid's messy room: cozy for the kid, junk strewn everywhere, but a little horrifying to anyone standing at the doorway. Grayson's most constant character here is himself-as-writer: "Please: you can see I'm a sick person. What would it take, a few pages in your lousy literary magazine, to make me happy? . . . If I can't have your respect, I'll settle for your pity. . . ." And pitiful indeed are many of these stories--cheap, silly, little more than names, puns, and jokes about the author's desperation for readers (hence the title). Still, there is something boorishly, oddly charming about Grayson's ability to stop in the middle of some childishly junky piece to ask, sincerely: "When I write myself into a corner, as I have done once more, do you have to give me credit for trying?" And there are two real short stories here--"A Hard Woman," "What Guillain-Barre Syndrome Means to Me"--which, though sketchy, indicate that Grayson can be a writer when he wants. For the most part, however: juvenile literary clowning, only faintly--and erratically--amusing.
The Midwest Book Review reviews Richard Grayson's Lincoln's Doctor's Dog in May 1982:
LINCOLN’S DOCTOR’S DOG, AND OTHER STORIES. By Richard Grayson. White Ewe Press (P.O. Box 996, Adelphi, MD 20783). $11.95
The voice of Richard Grayson is not consistent in his latest collections: that much is evident from the start. Some of his stories, which may be loosely classified as avant-garde fiction, seem to blatently [sic] make social commentaries without significantly drawing reader interest. Others cultivate a tongue-in-cheek humor that engrosses the reader in whatever subject is being revealed as in, for example, the unlikely tale ‘A Sense of Porpoise’, in which a man’s experiences with a live-in, talking porpoise assume Freudian overtones.
Some stories reveal Grayson’s distinct New York background and reflect some of the modern-day attitudes of the typical inner-city inhabitant caught in incongruous chains of events. Others, such as the humerous [sic] treatise ‘Lincoln’s Doctor’s Dog’, are simply drawn from Grayson’s imaginative musings.
The result: a mixed collection of droll and humerous [sic] works that New Yorkers, in particular, will appreciate.
–Diane C. Donovan
San Francisco, CA