Tuesday, February 27, 1979

The Smudge Review reviews Richard Grayson's DISJOINTED FICTIONS

The current (Winter 1978-1979) issue of the Detroit-based magazine The Smudge Review has a review of Richard Grayson's Disjointed Fictions by Hank Malone on pages 11-12:

By Richard Grayson
Released as X - A Journal of the Arts #5
Printed by Lawson Press · First Rate Offset
$3.00 · 42 Pages · Write to editor George Myers, Jr.
P.O. Box 2648 · Harrisburg, PA 17105

Disjointed Fictions is a funny, very readable, collection of "short fictions" written by one Richard Grayson, a 26 year old, well-published MFA who teaches English in Brooklyn. Mr. Grayson's premise appears to be that since he cannot write a piece of sustained fiction, like a novel, that he will instead write a book-length manuscript, building it, piece by piece, with clever fictions, ramblings, and fragments, a form popular in South America and probably best known to American readers in the work of Jorge Luis Borges.

These literary morsels and tidbits suggest a very fine talent, capable of much larger work; so the premise of an inability to sustain a longer fiction is, I think, clearly contrived for the purposes of doing this sort of thing: just jogging along in print, writing one's heart out in a wide-ranging variety of styles and fictions, relating nearly everything and everyone (especially celebrities) to himself in some very intriguing ways. It is a wildly narcissistic narrative, on the surface: very bright, wise, very "Jewish," very "New York," and often very funny, if you enjoy "put-on" and a subtle kind of surrealism that bursts occasionally in all kinds of ironically wise ways.

Disjointed Fictions is full of fun for a literate reader (comix readers beware), with lots of puns and potshots at everyone and everything. And yet, it is a strangely haunting work a well. Grayson's sense of logic is both conventional and precise, ad with this book I have discovered another fine American talent whose future work should be more than a light entertainment. Grayson is both a philosopher and a class clown, and in Disjointed Fictions there is a lot of Talmudic wisdom showing up in the wisecrack format of the Marx Brothers.

This is not a book for everyone. Sometimes the cleverness turns to lead, and the fun and absurdity becomes merely frivolous detailing On the other hand, I laughed a lot with it, and I suspect others will as well. This would be a thrilling Good Friday present to a disjointed friend. - H.M.