Monday, June 8, 2009

Kevin Killian reviews Richard Grayson's "Summer in Brooklyn" at

We were pleased and honored to discover that the noted writer Kevin Killian (Shy, Bedrooms Have Windows), whom we've read with pleasure but have never met or been in touch with, recently reviewed Summer in Brooklyn at
I became aware of this book after stumbling across some extracts on the net published by Brian Pera in his invaluable LIFE AS WE SHOW IT blog. The extract grouped together every time Richard Grayson went to the movies in the early 70s, and the diary entries from which this info was taken were immediately appealing and fresh--and real, the work of an authentically young man. So I ordered the book right away from Superstition Mountain Press, in order to get a bigger picture of Grayson's youth than just his movie going habits.

I was not disappointed. SUMMER IN BROOKLYN gives us the diary entries from Memorial Day through Labor Day, for six different years. Each day skips to a different year (1969-1975, so seven years get covered). At first Richard is eighteen, but often he is 24, and what a difference between the two ages! It's confusing and ultimately exhilarating, to see Richard slalom among all these ages, like a pinball in a giant machine. Soon however you will get a grip on the immutable facts of his life. Nurtured by a loving Jewish family in the Sheepshead Bay area, Richard grew up bookish and bright, already a storyteller by the time he enters Brooklyn College. In a way, it's like a Neil Simon play over again, except Richard benefits from the sixties sexual revolution and has some passionate sex affairs over time with girls like Ronna and Shelli. He's bisexual, or so he says, though we never see him having sex with any guys--maybe that's a pastime he saved for winter months. He fell in with the Fiction Collective crowd (book is dedicated to Jonathan Baumbach)), who encouraged his gift for postmodern prose, and turned him onto like minds.

It was an incredibly exciting time to be young, and the boys and girls of his generation believed they could change the world through direct political action. But they didn't let that stand in the way of having fun--and the inevitable angsty gloom of adolescence. SUMMER IN BROOKLYN is a time capsule of names from the news I never thought I'd hear again--remember Clement Haynesworth for example? Otherwise Richard works hard, makes good grades--seems to go to school all summer long, makes the reader feel that being a "grind" has all sorts of glamour. I can't wait to read more of Grayson's work, and as for that picture of him on the back cover, arms folded, waiting for me on his stoop pumped up in khaki shorts and a gray T-shirt, well, either it's a fluke shot or Richard Grayson actually is the most attractive writer ever.

As summer begins, this is the perfect book to reveal the hidden flavors of summers long ago and far away.

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