in therapy that would stay there, would stay in that category and never make it out until they were fully digested.”
There is a sense though, that everything Gray does in his life is essentially a rehearsal for his next performance. His latest monologue, on the subject of health, features an incident where Gray attends a Red Indian healing ritual in the hope of ridding himself of a small piece of tissue affecting his retina. At the start ofthe ceremony he asks the relevant deity that he shouldn‘t feel the need to turn the experience into a story. Of course he
2 immediately does.
‘That’s the hazard of anyone who works ,
. like I do,” he says. ‘You don‘t get a chance to 3 feel the experience of the event before
you‘re on top of it and working it and shaping it. I like to get in places that throw me and make me a little out of control. So I
have to wrestle with that urge and yet be
open to it.‘
The question remains, what‘s in it for the audience? It takes a patient reader to tolerate the self-absorption of Impossible Vacation especially given the extra irritant that the character is a privileged WASP who can jet around the world to pursue a neurotic whim. There’s another 800 pages lying on Gray’s desk awaiting publication. ‘Brewster takes up with another woman, and goes to Australia and finally makes it to Bali where he performs this ceremony laying his mother to rest. It's finally done in a foreign land.’
5 There‘s a limit to how much of this stuff we
can take. In his scattergun technique, Gray does hit some profound targets, occasionally offering some pointed insights, but his determination to explore his own failings in
public is beginning to seem mawkish and I unsettling.
‘Whatever you do, you have to start with a
’ personal element,‘ he contends. ‘I always
‘If you’re ever stuck in a train carriage
j opposite Gray, don’t make the mistake of
asking him what he does. The ensuing conversation could probably last you half way round the world.’
refer to myself as a poetic journalist. I don’t knowwhat objective reportingis.
; Everything always starts with my
‘- self—perception ofthe world. I‘m a
subjectivist. Idon‘t know whether
objectivity even exists. As a person I always
have a sense that there's something better out there. It‘s probably an illusion, but I‘m
5 always fantasising about the place I‘m not in i and that’s Brewster‘s condition, that
constant desire to get onto the next plane.‘ So maybe he does know what self-indulgent means after all. ‘I don’t like being an adult,‘ he admits. ‘I like indulging my whims, because I feel I could die any moment. My therapist once said I‘d never
learnt anything about renunciation. It‘s very '
hard for me to renounce one thing without it becoming an obsessional object. It’s as though I‘ve killed something and it‘s looming above me like a great totem.’ Just like a great big spoilt kid really. ‘I’m a child, yes. a 51-year-old baby. I really am.‘
Impossible Vacation is published by Picador (£14. 99).
All Iwanted was to get laid overand over again with a stranger. I had the notion that pure, isolated, uncomplicated, nonintegrated sex could cure me. Sex was best fame with Meg when I could manage to turn her into a strangerthrough fantasy, and that was getting more and more difficult. So I wanted to keep Meg as a comfortable friend and explore the rivers of anonymous Dionysian sex; that was my idea. lhad to go to that island ofﬁcenﬁousness, that bastion of free love located right in the middle of the sexiest-sounding town in India. Poona. I was sure the Bhagwan had a great sense of humor and had decided to locate his free love ashram there just forthe turn-on of that name, Poona. Can you imagine pooning in Poona? Just saying it gave me an erection.
Impossible Vacation page 95
— TIME OUT
“One of the best films you’ll ever see”
— THE SUN
“A fabulous film"
“A masterly movie”
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