08 March 2004

RIP: Spalding Gray

While this has just about nothing to do with speculative fiction, I have to share it. I'll get back to imaginary worlds soon enough:
A body pulled from the East River at 3 p.m. Sunday was that of actor-writer Spalding Gray, who had been missing since January 10, the New York City medical examiner's office said Monday afternoon.
(from CNN.com)
Strange how celebrities can seem important in our lives -- I remember watching the film of Swimming to Cambodia when I was a teenager and thinking, "Wow -- you can do that in a theatre?" When I was looking at colleges, NYU was my top choice, and on my first visit to Manhattan I went to see Gray in Gray's Anatomy at Lincoln Center. It remains one of the best shows I've ever seen. One man sitting at a desk and telling stories about his crazy life. (The film they later made of it doesn't quite capture the effect.) During my three years at NYU, I saw Gray here or there, and once even had the chance to speak with him, though I shied away and hid in a corner. What did he need some foolish kid saying, "Ummm ... I like your work..." to him for?

When I heard Gray was missing in January, I kept hoping he'd just gone off for some time alone. I knew it couldn't possibly be true. Having read or seen most his monologues, I knew the man too well.

Here's a moment of silence, then, from the snowy hills of New Hampshire, in memory of Spalding Gray, who gave that tired old word unique some meaning.

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