The Smoking Diaries

Simon Gray, Author . Carroll & Graf $14.95 (240p) ISBN 978-0-7867-1545-9

About to celebrate his 66th birthday, Gray, the British author of more than 30 plays, including the forthcoming Broadway revival of Butley (which will star Nathan Lane), started writing this witty journal of passing time, missed opportunities and his personality quirks, with the underlying topic of his smoking three packs of cigarettes daily and the wheezing and dizziness that accompany his habit. He traces his romance with tobacco to the incessant smoking of his overaffectionate Mummy and emotionally distant Daddy, and to his savvy 1940s and '50s childhood spent as part of a girl-run kiddie gang in Montreal. Gray's funny vignettes introduce characters such as Mr. and Mrs. Alzheimer (he suffers from the disease; she, therefore, is an "Alzheimer widow"), and "schoolmaster floggers" Mr. Brown and Mr. Burn. While somberly noting the demise of his parents and several friends from smoking-relating cancer and emphysema, Gray keeps up a constant comedy routine about the British literary world, his claustrophobia in cars and trains, the TV series Law and Order and other random subjects. His memoir is a dark comedy, full of intimacy, limericks, wisdom and fun. Photos. Agent, Angela Rose/Granta. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 05/23/2005
Release date: 07/01/2005
Paperback - 3 pages - 978-1-84708-058-5
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