Monday, October 6, 2008

Kirkus Discoveries Reviews Richard Grayson's "Summer in Brooklyn"

In a review published today, Kirkus Discoveries suggests that Richard Grayson's Summer in Brooklyn may be the most embarrassing book about Brooklyn ever published:
A collection of diary entries culled from summers over a six-year period.

A noted avant garde short-story writer whose work has been praised for quirky characters and off-beat scenarios, Grayson (Highly Irregular Stories, 2006, etc.) provides little here in the way of either personality or plot. Not that a person’s life story needs to follow the artificial contours of a work of fiction to hold attention, but readers will at least hope for observations that reveal the unique workings of a man’s mind and a chronological framework within which those observations can be understood. Neither can be found here. There is a bizarre order to the diary entries. The days of the month proceed from the first to the end of the month as one might expect in a conventional journal; the twist, however, is that each day’s entry is taken from a random year. The entry from June 5, 1975, for example, is followed by an entry for June 6, 1972, which is followed by an entry from 1973, and so on. This skipping around from one year to the next deprives the reader of any sense of character development. Readers will begin to recognize the recurring names of Grayson’s family and friends, and even detect emerging patterns of behavior among various characters. There are the on-again/off-again relationships with girlfriends Ronna and Shelli; the clinging co-dependency between Grayson and his parents; the two therapists Grayson visits; the gay male friends he is attracted to. But readers will search to no avail for anything resembling coherence in this diary. It will leave them wondering why a talented fiction author would offer such a bewildering, unsatisfying work of nonfiction.

Skip the diary. Read the author’s short stories.

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