Talking with my mother about Spalding Gray, she remarked that in his monologues he is always very controlled and distinguished and professional: almost the impersonal narrator of his own tale. He describes things that are very difficult experiences some times, but doesn’t let emotion slip himself, or covers it with dry humor.
Based on what we know about his own emotional life, though, he’s often very overwhelmed.
I realize that this is my technique as well. When I have an insoluble problem or an unhealed injury, I throw a net of words at it. Frame it this way and that, do it as dialogue or story or poem, do it in the second or third person. The completely unacceptable things in my life turn into Exercices de Style soon enough.
This has the effect of drenching my friends in my own tears to an extent and makes me look like a real whiner at times. However, I think it’s what keeps me alive. Lately, when I’m in a state of need and failure that I haven’t had in 15 years, prose is all I’ve got.
And unlike poor Spalding, I haven’t jumped off any ferries. Besides, if I jumped off the ferry in my town I’d just be in six feet of gross bay water.