Today, August 26, 2009, Kirkus Discoveries reviewed Richard Grayson's Autumn in Brooklyn: September-November 1978:
AUTUMN IN BROOKLYN
Author: Grayson, Richard
Review Date: AUGUST 26, 2009
Publisher: Superstition Mountain
Price (paperback): $15.00
Publication Date: 2009
ISBN (paperback): 978-0-578-03208-5
Three months’ worth of diary entries from a pivotal period in the author’s life and career.
Grayson (The Silicon Valley Diet and Other Stories, 2000, etc.), began keeping a daily dairy in 1969. It’s not entirely clear why he’s decided to publish the entries from this specific time period now, but his first semester teaching at Kingsborough Community College provides something of a narrative arc, and a number of dramatic events occur within these three months—his father’s surgery to remove a facial tumor, the editing of his first collection of short stories and the Jonestown massacre and assassinations of George Moscone and Harvey Milk in San Francisco. Being dropped into the middle of someone’s life is a disorienting experience, and there’s not enough context for many of the names Grayson drops, but a handful take shape as real people: Ronna, the aspiring journalist who wants to keep sleeping with Grayson in spite of his preference for guys; Grandma Ethel, made miserable by the diet designed to keep her cancer in remission; and Rosa, the troubled student who frightens Grayson by lying to his face and then declaring her love for him. But the book is perhaps most intriguing as a portrait of a young man trying to make it as an artist in the 1970s. Almost every day brings acceptances or rejections from magazines with fabulous titles like Nit & Wit, The Smudge and Dirty Linen. Meanwhile, the author name-checks fringe luminaries such as Jonathan Baumbach, Susan Fromberg Schaeffer and Michael Lally. Elsewhere, Grayson worries his friends will think he’s a sellout for signing with the now-hard-to-remember Taplinger Publishing Company. As a writer, the author is known for his stylistic playfulness and irreverent humor, but these diary entries are straightforward and bracingly honest—the young man depicted here is kind, jealous, prickly, ambitious and frightened. Aspiring writers may feel a little less alone after reading this daily catalog of soaring ambitions and crushing doubts.
Those familiar with Grayson’s life and work will appreciate the inside look into these formative months.
Autumn in Brooklyn is available for free reading at Google Books and Scribd.