IT'S A SLIPPERY SLOPE by Spalding Gray


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 An avalanche of shallow solipsisms as the veteran monologist takes to the slopes and learns to ski. Artists who plumb their lives for their work run the grave risk of using up all their best material and being reduced to diary trivialities and fire-sale reminiscences. Gray (Impossible Vacation, 1992, etc.) has seemed to be headed in this direction for a while; now he is finally there. He tries to freight everything with meaning--weighing skiing down with a series of pompous metaphors about existence--but this only amplifies the base banalities that threaten at every turn. ``In order to be in control, you have to be out of control. . . . It's the first leap of faith that I've ever had in my life.'' As he stumbles along, he tries to drag in his mother's suicide, his unexpected fatherhood, and the breakup of his long-term relationship/marriage. The descriptions of this last item are as painful as any skiing injury, as Gray alternates self-justifying contrition with the kind of analysis you'd expect from a third-rate shrink. After he fathers a child with the ``other woman'' and his marriage disintegrates, Gray has an epiphany on the slopes that is almost startling in its egocentrism and moral obtuseness: ``I thought I was going to self-destruct and instead I helped bring new life into the world. I gave myself a big high five, and I thought, You know, I've returned to New England and I'm no longer a puritan.'' The monologue style, with its frequent repetitions and digressions, makes all this even more awkward. What may work well before an audience just seems uncontrolled on paper. This snow job should shake the devotion of even Gray's most steadfast fans.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1997
ISBN: 0-374-52523-4
Page count: 112pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1997


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