Simon Gray is determined to give up smoking. Really. At last. Can he kick the habit of 60 years? Will he, sometime soon, be able to leave his house without nervously feeling for his two packets of twenty and his two lighters, and add no more singes to his cardigan? As this wonderful, wayward record of Gray's life progresses, these questions are overtaken by much larger ones. What is that lady on the plane to Athens doing with her nose? What was sex like before 1963? Will his name be in lights on Broadway? Why did he leave the bedside of his dying mother?
When he turned 65, the playwright Simon Gray began to keep a diary: not a careful honing of the days's events with a view to posterity but an account of his thoughts as he had them, honestly, turbulently, digressively expressed. One of Britain's most amusing and original writers reflects on a life filled with cigarettes (continuing), alcohol (stopped), several triumphs, and many more disasters; a record of shame, adultery, friendship, and love. Few diarists have ever been so frank about themselves, and even fewer so entertaining.
"Good but sad"
A great many writers use their own lives as the raw material for their work but few have done it with the wit and courage of Simon Gray. Like his previous best-seller, The Smoking Diaries, The Year of the Jouncer has the rare ability to make you laugh aloud one moment and ponder the sad mysteries of mortality the next, and sometimes to do both at the same time.
During a holiday with his wife in Crete, the celebrated diarist and playwright Simon Gray recalls the scans and consultations that have dominated the previous months in this frank, moving, and often painfully funny account of what Gray refers to as "the beginning of my dying". Wonderfully comic depictions of the medical team are interrupted by unforgettable portraits of fellow tourists, digressions on everything from crimes of passion to a brief history of his athletic career, and a masterfully tense distraction, composed while waiting for his final prognosis - and smoking one last cigarette.
A coming-of-age, coming-out cocktail with a twist of terror. Thirteen-year-old Franklin Robertson is trying to survive adolescence. His parents don’t understand him, his brother torments him, he has no friends, and he’s more interested in the high school quarterback than any girl. The one bright spot in his life is the glow of the black-and-white TV in his parents’ basement.....