Friday, March 15, 1996

New York Times Book Review reviews Richard Grayson's I SURVIVED CARACAS TRAFFIC

This Sunday's New York Times Book Review contains a review of Richard Grayson's I Survived Caracas Traffic:

The New York Times Book Review

Sunday, March 17, 1996

Page 20

Books in Brief




Stories From the Me Decades.

By Richard Grayson.

Avisson Press, 3007 Taliaferro Roa,

Greensboro,N.C. 27408, $21.

The scrambled nature of things and events isn't what gets your attention in Richard Grayson's new book of short stories. No, it's the incessant familiarity of the writer's secret self that makes his world entertaining and bizarre. The latest in a line of oddball collections with names like "With Hitler in New York" and "I Brake for Delmore Schwartz," "I Survived Caracas Traffic" features stories that are thickly populated with accident-prone people. One piece portrays a man whose great-great-grandfather made a liverwurst sandwich for the surgeon and medical researcher Walter Reed. (Reed died, but not from the sandwich.) Another has its protagonist slouching around a Brooklyn apartment with the Pope, who suggests they go out for a beer: " 'Oh, I don't know, Your Holiness, I feel awfully guilty about not writing anything lately. . . .' 'Don't be like that,' he admonishes me. 'You know what a useless emotion guilt is.' " The dialogue is consistently, even ingeniously funny. However, it's unsettling to find that you've polished off this entire batch of stories but can't remember exactly what they're about. Mr. Grayson excels at diverting the flow of action so nothing expected ever happens. But his results are inconclusive. This book is a perplexing piece of gadgetry: hard to come to grips with, not sturdy enough to make a good can opener for the conscience, far too bright and keenly made to flick casually away.

Sally Eckhoff

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