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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. No business is safe, either, as Grayson mocks traditional publishing’s buzzed-based marketing with caustic sarcasm in “The Greatest Short Story That Absolutely Ever Was.” In “The Facts Are Always Friendly,” the action is narrated through a series of terse, date-stamped factual statements. Grayson opens up in the meatier “Eating at Arby’s,” a clever spoof written in childlike prose. It details the absurd dichotomies of South Florida as a pair of retirees fall prey to consumerism, political exiles and even gunplay on their way to the mall. With a keen eye for highlighting the high anxieties of the modern world, and many of the sensibilities of a sensitive urban writer, Grayson is occasionally compared to Woody Allen. But Grayson’s stories here recall no one so much as Richard Brautigan, who walked a similar line between wit and warmth in his more eccentric novels. 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.

ISBN: 1-4116-5796-9
Program: Kirkus Indie
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