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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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Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

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