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For almost 20 years, Spalding Gray has been shining a spotlight-sharp sense of humor on the areas of his life that most of us would keep hidden. This 56-year-old monologuist, writer, and actor has turned his fear of death, pain over his mother’s suicide, and angst over romantic betrayal into fodder for 14 traveling monologues. A cult hero who won a 1984 Obie special citation for his show Swimming to Cambodia, Gray has most recently been touring with a new work, It’s a Slippery Slope (to be published by Farrar, Straus & Giroux this fall). In it, Gray chronicles his struggles with fatherhood, overcoming his “me” decades, and his remedy for life’s ills: learning to ski.

Here’s what he had to say about performance artist Danny Hoch, who’s touring this fall with a new piece entitled Evolution of a Homeboy:

“Hoch is a street kid from Queens — a kind of Eric Bogosian, but with heart. He does a series of street characters that are somewhat disturbed, somewhat passionate. And he has a kind of Joycean approach to language. His work is filled with a lot of heart, not just psychosis.”

Also recommended by Gray:

Shawn Colvin’s most recent album, A Few Small Repairs. “It’s just fresh and new for me, very lyrical. It’s a tone I haven’t heard before, very original.” ! Columbia Records, 1996

Raymond Carver’s Where I’m Calling From on audiotape. “These make great bedtime stories. Carver can take material images and sketch them in a way that makes them spiritual. And actor Peter Riegert, who reads the stories, has got the perfect working-class Raymond Carver tone. One of the stories, ‘Cathedral,’ is probably one of the greatest short stories ever written.” ! New York: Random House Audiobooks, 1989

Continental Drift by Russell Banks. “He bounces between a working-class man from New Hampshire who’s trying to get established in Florida, and Haitian refugees on a boat headed toward Florida. It’s so beautifully structured, it moved me to tears.” ! New York: HarperCollins, rereleased 1994

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As we wrote over the summer, traffic has been down at Mother Jones and a lot of sites with many people thinking news is less important now that Donald Trump is no longer president. But if you're reading this, you're not one of those people, and we're hoping we can rally support from folks like you who really get why our reporting matters right now. And that's how it's always worked: For 45 years now, a relatively small group of readers (compared to everyone we reach) who pitch in from time to time has allowed Mother Jones to do the type of journalism the moment demands and keep it free for everyone else.

Please pitch in with a donation during our fall fundraising drive if you can. We can't afford to come up short, and there's still a long way to go by November 5.

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