Spalding Gray: It's a Slippery Slope

Could it be? Has Spalding Gray finally grown up?

After listening to It's a Slippery Slope, it's hard to argue against the notion. Sure, the ironic, self-deprecating voice is still there. The difference with this monologue is that it's only one of Gray's voices. There's a new one here as well, and it sounds mature.

Ostensibly about learning to ski, Gray wanders onto other topics as well: frozen bananas, bonding with his father, his marriage to his longtime girlfriend Renée, acting out suicide, his son, and the end of his relationship with Renée. Yes, Spalding Gray becomes a father. As you might expect, it changes him.

As a matter of fact, a lot of changes have happened. He actually learns to ski, for one. After all these years, Gray finally just lets go and accomplishes something! It's something we've never heard in one of his monologues. His years of analysis seem to have paid off in a different way: he is no longer tied to Renée.

When I first heard a version of this monologue on NPR, the story of how he had a son with another woman while he was with Renée shocked me. Spalding Gray, admitting cheating/adultery/whatever on Renée? The one person in his life who seemed to have sense? How could he?

Well, that story wasn't quite what's related here. Gray's learned enough psychobabble ("fusion") to be able to give himself a excuse. Maybe they were a couple held together by psychological needs, maybe not. I can't say. But I'm kind of glad that I've heard both versions, rather than just the more self-serving version on this CD.

So now Spalding Gray has finally conquered a fear, had a son, and now has a family. It sounds like it's time to say goodbye: goodbye to that voice that all of us with insecurities understands. Maybe he'll become Spalding Guru now.

On a technical note, this CD is peculiar. Most of the CD was recorded in a studio, but every once in a while it fades to a live recording. It can be rather disconcerting, especially in the one case where only the last word of a sentence is live. Also, Beethoven's symphonies are used throughout, but it's hard to appreciate them when you only hear a few seconds here and there. The ending chords, while appropriate, don't really work for me.

All in all, a mixed bag that was better than I'd expected. But it really leaves me wondering if there's anything left for Mr. Gray to talk about. He's the consummate Boomer now.

Last updated 8 June 2000
All contents ©1998-2002 Mark L. Irons