DUMBO — On Wednesday, Oct. 26, from 7 to 9 p.m., powerHouse arena will host the book launch of The Journals of Spaulding Gray, edited by Nell Casey.
“The publication of The Journals of Spalding Gray is a significant event in American arts and letters. If Walt Whitman was our great chronicler of American life toward the end of the 19th century, Gray was his ironic, darkly funny counterpart. … This is not only a great book, it’s an important book,” says Michael Cunningham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Hours.
Casey will share her experience editing the 5,000-plus pages of journals from the late actor/ writer known for his autobiographical monologues.
Gray — who died in 2004, apparently after jumping off the Staten Island ferry — left behind more than 5,000 pages of his private writing—beginning when he was 25 and ending just before his death at age 62.
What emerges from these pages is an incredibly intimate portrait of an evolving artist, conflicted celebrity, eloquent writer and a man struggling for years with depression before finally succumbing to its most desperate impulse.
From his reflections on his childhood, his craving for success and the downtown New York arts scene of the 1970s; his love affairs, marriages, and fatherhood; and his passion for the theater, where he worked to balance his compulsion to tell all with his fears of having his deepest secrets exposed, The Journals of Spauling Gray reveal the extraordinary inner life of a creative genius who we thought had told us everything about himself —until now.
As Casey says of first encountering the journals, “I’d thought Gray had already told the story of his life through his monologues. But as I read, it quickly became clear that the monologues offered only a hint of what was truly going on in his life. It wasn’t possible for Gray to chronicle or confess all the crucial aspects of his life publicly but privately he did so. The material — which came to include the diaries as well as audiotapes of Gray’s therapy sessions, letters, drawings, photographs and notes he’d written to himself on scraps of paper—vividly and movingly captured a life in full.”