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Life Interrupted: The Unfinished Monologue Hardcover – October 4, 2005


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Life Interrupted: The Unfinished Monologue + Swimming to Cambodia + Monster in a Box
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Perhaps best known for his first theatrical monologue, 1985's Swimming to Cambodia (which later became a surprisingly successful film, directed by Jonathan Demme), Gray followed Cambodia with many more autobiographical performances, including Monster in a Box and Slippery Slope (and many film appearances) until his suicide at age 62 in spring 2004. A traumatic automobile accident in 2001 had left him severely depressed;this, and the hospital stay that followed, is the subject of the unfinished monologue that makes up only a short part of this memorial volume. Introduced by novelist Francine Prose in a graceful essay citing Gray's "unlikely and hilarious pilgrim's progress," the book includes short eulogies by some of Gray's many friends in memorial services at Lincoln Center and in Sag Harbor, his home. Many are from figures in the world of books and publishing;his agent, Suzanne Gluck; novelist A.M. Homes; essayist Roger Rosenblatt;others from show biz, like Laurie Anderson, John Perry Barlow, Eric Bogosian, Eric Stoltz and many more. This is an unusual book to put out as a trade edition and indicates the affection and esteem Gray commanded. (Oct.)
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From Booklist

Gray turned every odd twist and turn of his life into material for his famous, influential monologues. His experiences on the set of The Killing Fields became Swimming to Cambodia. His attempts to buy a vacation home became Monster in a Box. It seems oddly natural, if vaguely unsettling, that, a year after his suicide, a new piece entitled Life Interrupted should appear. It doesn't chronicle Gray's wild afterlife, however, but is instead a brief recounting of experiences immediately before and after a life-threatening automobile accident in Ireland in summer 2001. Of course, Gray would have added to the monologue in performance; that was his practice. Still, as is, this compact story is witty, insightful, fascinating, and free of the wounded, annoying narcissism that crept into many of his recent pieces. Published with it here are a poignant short story and a fine portrait of New York City, as well as eulogies delivered at memorial services by such notables as Laurie Anderson and John Perry Barlow. Jack Helbig
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; First Edition edition (October 4, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400048613
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400048618
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #392,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By T. Porges on August 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
A celebrity is someone whom you've never actually met, but think you know; not just know about, but know. The celebrity press offers us little bits of enticing, patently untrue information about these imaginary friends every day. Part of our agreement with the idea of celebrity is that we believe these things while knowing (after all, we're not crazy) that they aren't true.

It was easy to slip into thinking of Spalding Gray, who after all never pretended to be anything but an actor and a sort of amateur writer, as a celebrity. Since his confessional monologues included much that was embarrassing and painful, it was easier that way. Apparently, though, every word of it was true. His sadness, his eerily prophetic but still crippling fears, his inability, like so many children of suicides, to get on with his life -- it was all there. It was all, or at least mostly true, and we really knew him after all, and the guilt at not having been able to save him, at having been not an imaginary friend but a real one, and not a very good one, is real as well.

His monologues were surprisingly layered, nuanced and durable works of art, considering he never claimed much for himself as a writer. They are like Chekhov plays without villains -- not so dark, or so funny, and a bit sweeter than you'd like, maybe, but still great, and this is the last of them.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Whipper Will on July 30, 2007
Format: Hardcover
The amount of compassion in this book is simply amazing. Spalding was a normal individual living through extraordinary events that he wove into some of the best monologues & humor to ever grace our eyes & ears. The finality of his decision can never be compromised by our tremendous feeling of loss. He was entitled to save himself from his pain in any manner he sought & I respect him for that. While the hole in our hearts will never be filled, I would only encourage his friends & loved ones to look back on the best of times. I have a feeling He would have wanted it that way too...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nuclearfueled on September 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover
I've never had such an exasperating experience trying to get to the actual material! Gray's voice, that's what I want here. This book should be called Book Interrupted. Francine Prose fancies herself a writer and takes her sweet time exploring her writing fantasy here, please darling stop, put the pen down! Not only is her introduction overly long but it is hideously banal, repetitive, self aggrandizing and just awful. I was in a good mood, ready to dig into all things Gray except I felt obligated to wade through a high school level Press Release. Francine Prose spends many of the 48 pages of this slim volume convincing us of how buddy-buddy she was with the Gray clan. She needed 48 pages to expound and swing very wide by ruminating key moments, passages, quotes, well worn history and on and on -you just can't believe it! Finally I'm through her pre-ramble and Gray is speaking. All is well now. Ms. Prose, please I beg you to break every pen in your beautiful home and stick to doing whatever else it is that you do that doesn't involve books.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By phoebe sylverthorn on May 31, 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I have enjoyed Spalding Gray's writings and one man shows for many years. His observations of people and events is unique and funny. I miss him and feel so sad for his family. I want to thank them for sharing him with all of us for so many years.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By W. Prince on January 3, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've been a great Gray fan for years. Reading this monologe brings you back into the theater with him again. Read on a quick flight to Boston, I was transformed back to his live stage performance reality. His vivid writing lets you see and hear his life again, and taking me to that wonderful place that only he and old radio dramas could.
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Format: Kindle Edition
My first thought upon hearing that Spalding Gray was missing was that he could not have killed himself. At the end of "Morning, Noon, and Night," which I was fortunate enough to see him perform in early 2002, he imagined Hell as a state in which one floats, disembodied, able to see and hear others but not touch them or interact with them in any way. This is certainly a different take on "Grandma is watching over you from Heaven." If she is watching over you, it's not from Heaven.

This book contains Gray's final monologue, in which he describes the accident which eventually led to his death. Most of the book, and I suspect, the reason for its publication, consists of recollections of Gray by those who knew him - how he affected them as a friend, colleague, or performer. The most affecting was the one by his step-daughter, who was the only contributor who actually lived with him in his final days. Her admission that maybe everyone was better off without him is born of the ignorance and bluntness of the young, who have not yet learned to dissemble in order to spare the feelings of others. Out of essay after essay celebrating Gray's "honesty," hers was itself the most honest. It must have been quite a different matter to live with him, rather than simply visit, or for those at a sufficiently great distance, to have the luxury of simply recalling how he was before the accident.

We subsequently learned that Gray had attempted suicide several times already. The night he leapt from the ferry was so cold that the deck had been roped off. He must have stepped over the rope and climbed off the railing - unfortunately, not an accident, and not entirely unanticipated. In some sense, his family must have agreed to let him go, as difficult as this is to accept.
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