Sunday, September 10, 2006

Judd Lear Silverman Reviews Richard Grayson's AND TO THINK THAT HE KISSED HIM ON LORIMER STREET

On his eponymous blog, Judd Lear Silverman reviewed Richard Grayson's And to Think That He Kissed Him on Lorimer Street on September 9, 2006:

If you're not familiar with the writer, Richard Grayson, you should be, especially those who love the short story form. Besides spending time on bogus runs for political office and publicity stunts that have graced People and Page Six in the Post, Grayson's been writing prolifically for years, and his first anthology, With Hitler in New York, was recently reissued. Other humorous writings have included the collections I Break for Delmore Schwartz, Eating at Arby's: The South Florida Stories, and Narcissism and Me, as well as a novella, The Silicon Valley Diet. [Some of these stories have also been reprinted in Highly Irregular Stories (Dumbo Books).] But his recent collection, entitled And to Think That He Kissed Him on Lorimer Street, is perhaps the best collection to start with, reflecting not only his gifts as a satirist but his ability to keep the mind so busy it doesn't know that the heart has been touched. Like a reality TV junkie, Grayson mixes seeming fact with fiction, borrowing names, places and people from his own life and shaping them into odd and effecting commentaries on the passage of time, family relationships, sexuality, race relations, and America's pathological preoccupation with celebrity. Some stories are quick brushstroke sketches of people and a particular time. Others are journeys told in vignettes stretching spans of 20-30 years. Friendships are explored in sideways glances, showing how the most unlikely of alliances can turn into lifelong relationships. Numerous stories (perhaps one too many for the same collection) are subdivided by real estate locations: old movie palaces, libraries, and shopping centers, where seemingly innocuous events are recalled that by the end of the story add up to a whole lifetime of experience. Grayson shape shifts from gay to straight, white to black, male to female, kid to aging wit. Grandparents and childhood buddies play recurrent and important roles, but discerning fact from fiction in Grayson's work is tricky until one considers these stories in the aggregate. In the biography of the great Italian filmmaker, Federico Fellini, the maestro is quoted as saying that the truth of his life is not in the facts reported by birth certificates, death notices and journalistic reportage, but in his art, his dreams, his films--it is in the revelation of the imagination that the real artist is known. Likewise, the truth of Grayson is in these tales, invented and reinvented versions of his life and experience. The facts may not be verifiable, but the affection and care he displays in his description of life's travels and the people in his life are real, resulting in stories that are affecting and sharply observed. Recommended.

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