Swimming to Cambodia

Swimming to Cambodia It took courage to do what Spalding did courage to make theatre so naked and unadorned to expose himself in this way and fight the demons in public In doing so he entered our hearts my heart because

  • Title: Swimming to Cambodia
  • Author: Spalding Gray James Leverett Roger Rosenblatt
  • ISBN: 9781559362542
  • Page: 211
  • Format: Paperback
  • It took courage to do what Spalding did courage to make theatre so naked and unadorned, to expose himself in this way and fight the demons in public In doing so, he entered our hearts my heart because he made his struggle my struggle His life became my life Eric Bogosian Virtuosic A master writer, reporter, comic and playwright Spalding Gray is a sit down monologist It took courage to do what Spalding did courage to make theatre so naked and unadorned, to expose himself in this way and fight the demons in public In doing so, he entered our hearts my heart because he made his struggle my struggle His life became my life Eric Bogosian Virtuosic A master writer, reporter, comic and playwright Spalding Gray is a sit down monologist with the soul of a stand up comedian A contemporary Gulliver, he travels the globe in search of experience and finds the ridiculous The New York TimesIn 2004, we mourned the loss of one of America s true theatrical innovators Spalding Gray took his own life by jumping from the Staten Island ferry into the waters of New York Harbor, finally succumbing to the impossible notion that he could in fact swim to Cambodia At a memorial gathering for family, friends and fans at Lincoln Center in New York, his widow expressed the need to honor Gray s legacy as an artist and writer for his children, as well as for future generations of fans and readers Originally published in 1985, Swimming to Cambodia is reissued here 20 years later in a new edition as a tribute to Gray s singular artistry.Writer, actor and performer, Spalding Gray is the author of Sex and Death to the Age 14 Monster in a Box It s a Slippery Slope Gray s Anatomy and Morning, Noon and Night, among other works His appearance in The Killing Fields was the inspiration for his Swimming to Cambodia, which was also filmed by Jonathan Demme.

    One thought on “Swimming to Cambodia”

    1. Deeply funny, interesting and well-written, Swimming to Cambodia is a moving and important piece of history.

    2. I didn't really know who Spalding Gray was before reading this, don't even know how this appeared on my bookshelf, but I'm so glad I read it. It's basically an epic stream of consciousness (but in the oral storyteller kind of way, not Ulysses) and touches on everything from Gray's OCD (which he writes about hilariously and painfully) to the unreality of filming The Killing Fields, to searching for a Perfect Moment before allowing himself to leave a country. It made me want to (try to) write some [...]

    3. Lots of interesting ideas that just don't coalesce very well. I can imagine this being quite a good one-man play, but I don't recommend reading it written down like this.

    4. First read, this book made a big impression on me. I especially carried around the idea of the Jewish concentration camp survivors meeting up each year, sure that this reunion will always mean the same thingy to find, as time went on, that it didn't. It lost its urgent impact.Second read, sure reunion would mean the same thing as first time, but what can I say? What Spalding says. It didn't. It had lost its something.As is so often the case for me, reunion with a book is a disappointment. It mak [...]

    5. I had never heard of Spalding Gray but his book looked interesting. It is a written-down version of his live monologues about his life.It wasn't that it was particularly poorly written, it's just that Spalding himself did so many things I don't admire, to say the least. He indulges himself frequently in various drugs and new age nonsense, is a mass of neurotic notions, immerses himself in gallons of liquor and hires whoreswhenever. His life stories of drugs, sex and idiotic eccentricity were a t [...]

    6. (Note: I will be reviewing the movie here instead of the book.)Swimming to Cambodia is an 85 minute monologue by the late actor / writer Spalding Gray. This one-man show consists of Gray sitting on a dark stage at an illuminated desk with a glass of water and a microphone. He illustrates his time in Thailand while filming the movie The Killing Fields, including humorous anecdotes and a brief history of the film's content about the genocide in Cambodia from 1975 - 1979. Initially it appears as st [...]

    7. “Swimming to Cambodia” by Spalding Gray is described as, simultaneously, a monologue about the Cambodian genocide and about the life of one man. After having observed the monologue in its entirety, I would suggest that, rather than being about both in equal measure, it could be more accurately called the story of how learning about the Cambodian Genocide influenced the life of one man. Spalding’s accounts specifically focus on a trip to Thailand he took to participate in the making of the [...]

    8. I'm not sure I reacted to this short monologue as intended. I heard some people say it was funny, but that was not my reaction, although some events could be construed as humorous. Perhaps it is funnier in delivery, and now I feel as though I must see the movie. But for me, I found it a sad insight into the mind of an insecure, troubled actor, as he details his participation in a movie that was powerful and heartbreaking. The book is more focused on off set incidents and life in an exotic shooti [...]

    9. Anxious, rambling, dark humor that weaves episodes of breathtaking introspection. It's a rare and honest look into a man's greatest trepidations, and concurrently his quest to find that "Perfect Moment" we all want to live, but often don't have cognizance to recognize nor to identify in the deepest recesses of personal reflection.

    10. Thoughtful, honest, kinda funny, just a touch trippy, and organized with its own internal logic that, well - it makes sense when you read it.

    11. There's occasional brilliance in this largely stream-of-consciousness effort. This reminds me of the best of Hunter S. Thompson.

    12. I thought this was an interesting and sometimes disturbing ramble through one man's mind. The mind in question is connected to a series of unfortunate and interesting events--Pol Pot's genocidal takeover of Cambodia after American withdrawal, the film based on this tragedy, and a bunch of intimate details of the author's life. This style of monologue is pretty compelling for its fluidity, and I think Gray achieves a certain level of identification with this reader at least. The result is less a [...]

    13. Great book/monologue - easy to slip into and start visualizing. I first heard of this monologue when I worked at the Goodman Theatre, and Spalding Gray was scheduled to swing through and perform it in the Owen. For some reason (personal, I think) he was unable to make it. And after reading this, I'm struck by how sad it is I've lost the chance to see him perform. It was also fascincating to "hear" him write about his interactions with other actors from the movie "The Killing Fields" including Ch [...]

    14. I read a lot of mixed reviews on this. I picked this up somewhere random, probably a sidewalk (I do this often), and had tried to read it once before during school but I just wasn't paying enough attention and it didn't interest me much. I decided to give it one more try and I'm so glad I did. He manages to take you through so many different parts of his life in such a short time, and it's fascinating how he organizes his thoughts. I was completely enthralled the whole time and can't wait to wat [...]

    15. One of my favorite movies isThe Killing Fields (which tells you a lot about me, I'm guessing). While researching information about the movie, its message, and whatnot and so forth many years ago, I stumbled upon this - a monologue that was transcribed about a very odd man in a a self-admitted little role in one of my favorite films. It's a complete treat to read, but the movie (as Gray notes in one of his later monologues as 87 minutes of a man, sitting behind a desk, talking) is what really mak [...]

    16. Warning: This a nostalgia review, I have not read this book in many, many years. Nevertheless, this book is the reason I am a reader (possibly also why I am a writer). I saw Spaulding Gray on David Letterman in the mid-1980s, I would have been roughly 14 years old, and thought, "People write books about these sorts of things? I didn't know that." So I bought this book and I have been reading ever since. Is the movie better? Probably. Is this review a more about me than Spaulding Gray or "Swimmin [...]

    17. How I loved Spalding Grey: brilliant, tortured, hillarious. Sometimes his work could get so intimate that it felt uncomfortable, (I remember an essay on infidelity where he described screwing another woman - now that's laying it bare) but this is more distanced while still remaining personal. To this day I still look for a perfect moment on every vacation that lets me know it's time to go home. This was his most famous and well recieved work. It's the high point of his career and a great entry i [...]

    18. Gray’s social commentary is brilliant and his self-deprecating humor always amuses me. Reading this is no substitute for watching him perform the material, however. For me the two are very different experiences. I love watching Gray deliver his monologues; I find him intelligent and charming. I revel in his stream of consciousness delivery, his endless digressions. When I read a monologue, though, Gray is a different person, a person I don’t like very much. When I finished reading Swimming t [...]

    19. entertaining as always, this book based on Gray's monologue/movie of the same name is an interesting insight into the making of the movie the Killing Fields, life in Thailand and Cambodia, and US involvement in that region.i prefer his monologue "live" where his tone of voice, body language, and timing inform the tale, making it storytelling rather than a story told. although i enjoyed this romp through his poetical recollections, his stories are meant to be performance art and not really for re [...]

    20. It was on the shelf, and I am trying to clean out the old stuff in particular scripts etc and it was quick read. Certainly works better as a performed monologue ( I saw the film version), but Spalding Gray always surprised me and his personal monologues always wound up into perfect well-told stories--not just personal rants as so many others might do.R.I.P. Spalding. No pun intended but you had vision.

    21. This is the sort of book that brings you close to the company of the author in a meditative ramble where his life of literature provides ballast to keep the metaphoric (and palindromic) kayak afloat, as he reflects on grief. Not quite memoir, not quite essay, but threads of thought speed along, marked here with a quotation from a philosopher, poet, writer or thought about writing comes along or a flashback, always returning to his beloved daughter, Amy.

    22. I read this book on a train ride from Melbourne to Sydney. I couldn't sleep and Mr. Gray kept me company in the lounge car. This monologue describes the behind scenes midaventures of Spalding during the filming of The Killing Fields in Thailand. His description of his "displacement of anxiety" theory is enough to make this book worth reading. But his manic storytelling is incredibly riveting and will keep you turning the pages and begging for more.

    23. Wow, it was really sad reading this for the first time. Of course, I've seen the movie by Jonathan Demme that is essentially a live reading of this, and I've seen The Killing Fields, the movie Gray had a role in that is the basis of this monologue. Of course, Gray went on to drown himself later and it made for a very melancholy re-engagement with this book, which is a very funny and wise and self-lacerating take on the meaning of all things and nothing.

    24. I really enjoy this story. I had to watch the dvd of Spaulding Gray reading this book a few year ago for a class and loved it so I figured it was time to actually read it. Gray is an amazing storyteller, and his stories really jump off the page. I'd highly recommend this to almost anyone. The way he writes the story is great too because he includes a lot of the historical facts about the occupation of Cambodia and Pol Pot. Great book.

    25. I've always loved Spaulding Grey's performances, and reading this one was almost like an audiobook -- I could hear his voice and inflection in my head, as I think you're meant to. You ought to watch him perform first, and then read the transcript, because the performance is far better. This is not to say I didn't enjoy the book. It's beautiful and worth of reading. But Spaulding Grey is a performer, and without the A/V aspects, it's just not the same.

    26. I wish I liked Spalding Gray (RIP). I suspect I would have enjoyed him as a person, but as a writer, meh. I think the whole monologue phenomenon gave him a boost he'd never have received as a plain-old writer-- anything is more entertaining when read aloud, and frankly reading his stuff in book form reveals its mediocrity. I think his charm was in his physical presence.

    27. My first exposure to Gray was watching the David Byrne movie True Stories, and he just struck me as an interesting individual. I read one other book by Gray (Morning, Noon, and Night) and liked that one a little more, but the style is fairly similar - sometimes insightful, lots of times self-indulgent and hyper-self-analytical, but that's the whole point, I s'pose.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *