A Mind of Summer

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Tight Curtain Press, 2005 - Biography & Autobiography - 244 pages

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Grayson has set the stage for a new way of thinking; a feat has not been accomplished in literature for decades.
-M. Guttman

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Erik Grayson manages to combine skepticism, criticism, and disillusion with bureaucracy into a uniquely positive, ultimately redeeming perspective about higher education and cultural life in the United States. Though some essays in this collection are stronger than others, I would say the book is consistently interesting. Grayson tackles subjects as varied as higher education (particularly in the humanities), Americans abroad, literature, film, religion, and media, all with the same gently skeptical approach. In the end, Grayson's book is an interesting commentary on (and from) whatever generation comes between X and Y. It may not be required reading on college campuses, Erik Grayson's essays never claim to be earth-shattering treatises on our deepest philosophical concerns. Instead, Grayson presents his ideas in a friendly, engaging tone, often admitting his limitations while quietly offering food for thought. There's a "take it for what it is" feel about "A Mind of Summer," never pretending to be anything more than a young man's thoughts about the world in which he lives. In the end, you may find yourself agreeing with much of what Grayson writes (like me) or disagreeing with him. Either way, by not seeking to shatter the earth with overwhelming bursts of profundity, Grayson cracks the ground beneath our feet just enough to get us thinking about the things that will shatter it. I am particularly fond on his essay on the implications of hourly versus salary wages and find his thoughts on religion and academia untainted by the popular prejudices and politicized stances prevalent among many people in and around the arts.
Also included in the book is a moving history of a small city in New York. There's a real kindness in Grayson's treatment of the memories of the elderly people he interviews in the oral history concluding the book. After reading the oral history, one can't help feeling an urge to preserve one's own local stories.
Overall a fun, easy read and just maybe a worthwhile one, too.


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