"An audacious and wickedly smart comedic writer brings his full weight to bear in a collection of his early work. Grayson, no stranger to experimentation, here assembles four of his most engaging chapbooks, which merge nicely as an eclectic anthology of intriguing short stories. The author, who breaks nearly every literary rule in an obsessive effort to be unique, is both maddeningly and hilariously self-aware. 'Narcissism and Me' leaps dizzyingly between the author’s presence and the actual story like a snake eating its tail, while 'Sixteen Attempts to Justify My Existence' reads like a blog from another planet, and 'I Saw Mommy Kissing Citicorp' waxes poetic on the rise and fall of 1980s greed...Though certainly unconventional, Highly Irregular Stories are refreshing because of their aloofness, which allows the author to indulge his peculiar point of view...An iconoclast sways to his own beat, making beautiful music along the way." - Kirkus Discoveries, 7/14/06
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By Dumbo Books
Aug 7, 2007
"Hipster Book Club reviews HIGHLY IRREGULAR STORIES" Excerpts from Hipster Book Club review in August 2007: Richard Grayson is a meta-fictionalist of the old school, where structure is often as important as narrative, where the story is sometimes hidden in structural tricks like diary entries, lists, and jokes. Grayson revels in finding stories in ephemera—descriptions of what happened to groups of people on dates throughout a year, a list of traits, stories about writing stories. The stories in Highly Irregular Stories were originally published in the 1970s and 1980s, but Grayson has such a fresh approach to writing that these stories don't seem dated. In some ways, Grayson may remind readers of a younger Woody Allen—an intellectual who ponders the nature of existence yet is remarkably funny while discussing life, death, and capitalism. Like much of the meta-fiction oeuvre, Grayson often writes stories about writing stories—he'll describe a story he wrote, or wants to... More > write, or is in the process of writing. The trick with this genre is to make sure the reader can find the story. There is a narrative somewhere; It's not all jokes and lists. Grayson succeeds here—the lists and diary entries reveal his passion for finding new ways to tell a story. "The Facts Are Always Friendly" is a series of calendar entries that explore the complicated relationships among a group of friends who are at once affable and duplicitous. "My Twelfth Twelfth Story Story," a tale about a seemingly upright citizen writing a book of stories about living on the 12 floor, reveals that the protagonist has a preoccupation with gruesome murders. "Progress" is a tale of a young man who goes home with a very friendly clothing salesman and ends up alone, trapped in the salesman's circular apartment, afraid to leave. The funny stuff in Highly Irregular Stories is not just mildly amusing but actually laugh-out-loud funny..."Eating at Arby's," humorously explores the lives of two Southern Florida residents, Manny and Zelda, through a series of Dick and Jane-style stories. For Manny and Zelda, a trip to a mall becomes an analysis of the wastefulness of the middle classes, a visit to the chiropractor, and an examination of race relations. What sometimes seem like stand-up routines on the outset reveal stories about the deep struggles of creativity and identity in the late twentieth century.... "Innovations" is very typical of the tales in Highly Irregular Stories—there are stories within stories within stories that spiral inward or spiral outward towards their conclusions. There is nothing lazy or superfluous in Grayson's prose. Every word is called into service. What seem like digressions are insights into the story or the characters. Sometimes Grayson's self-effacing humor seems almost Vonnegut-esque...For all the similarities to more mainstream writers, Grayson is firmly seated in the experimental realm and is much closer to writers like Donald Barthelme, Raymond Federman and Steve Katz. Readers in search of realistic plots and characters will not find what they're looking for here, but for the more adventurous reader who enjoys satirical and experimental fiction, Highly Irregular Stories is highly recommended. (August, 2007)< Less
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