"The dynamic Brooklyn cityscape serves as the backdrop in this beguiling collection of short stories. Grayson’s tenth volume of fiction introduces a multicultural multitude of characters, including a teen lesbian from Uzbekistan who works as a Brooklyn Cyclones hot-dog mascot and a gay black student whose Pakistani roommate’s pet monkey helps him find acceptance on a mildly homophobic campus. In other stories, like 'Branch Libraries of Southeastern Brooklyn' and 'The Lost Movie Theaters of Southeastern Brooklyn and Rockaway Beach,' the author maps out memories against the geography of his beloved Brooklyn, with excursions to Los Angeles and South Florida. Grayson’s low-key, conversational prose is injected with flashes of wry wit...A funny, odd, somehow familiar and fully convincing fictional world." - Kirkus Discoveries, 4/13/06
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By Dumbo Books
Dec 31, 1969
"Eric Rosenfield review at Wet Asphalt" From Wet Asphalt Richard Grayson's new book And to Think That He Kissed Him on Lorimer Street is a collection of confessional fiction that I think illustrates both the best and the worst of how the style can be used. Much of Lorimer Street is clearly autobiographical—Grayson even uses his own name—and reads more like memoir than fiction, though at least once he plays around with this by making himself married to a woman and with children, while in the other stories he's an unmarried, aging homosexual. Grayson generally organizes these stories around themes and objects—e.g. libraries he used to go to or the dead silent film star who once lived in his house. In the story "Conselyea Street" he employs this trick to devastating effect as he tears off pieces of life in New York until the only thing left is real estate. By way of contrast there is "The Cool Guy," in which Grayson rambles on interminably about some guy he... More > used to know, and how this guy dated this girl and then this other girl and then he (Grayson) dated this girl and now she's married and has kids and... wait, why am I reading this again? "The Cool Guy" feels like something Grayson copied right out of his diary. There are other stories that (though still confessional) are more clearly fictional, and those are the high-points of the collection. Richard Grayson has been around for a long time and his practiced simplicity is easy to read; his prose manages to be lean without being terse. Among these more fictional stories is a tale about a foreign girl who is one of the hot dog mascots for the Coney Island Cyclones baseball team. Another is about a kid in college whose Muslim roommate has a therapy monkey. A third is about a guy whose pushy female friend gets off on watching the protagonist kiss her boyfriend. These are all fun to read and a story collection made up entirely of stories like these would deserve glowing praise. As it stands parts of this book make clear that Richard Grayson is very good at writing fiction, while other parts make you wish he would actually write some. The question then isn't "can Richard Grayson write," it's why is he typing out these boring autobiographical numbers?... Grayson...refers to "...the small press that published... my book of idiotic stories." Which might be funny if he didn't sound serious, and this wasn't a book of "idiotic" stories published by a small press. Grayson's work paints a portrait of a talented writer whose ambition has washed away in a sea of middling reviews and self-pity. This is a man who has given up, and I'm not talking about going to law school, I can understand resigning yourself to not making a living as a writer when so few do. It's like he's given up on being read, he's given up on literature, and he's given up on mattering. And frankly if he thinks so poorly of his own work then why is he inflicting it on other people at all? Why bother? What happened to you, Richard? Whatever happened, I think it's the real reason for the uneven quality of the stories in this collection. This is the work of a good writer who doesn't think what he does matters anymore. And that's kind of sad and unfortunate. Richard, come back.< Less
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