A native of New York City, Richard Grossinger attended Amherst College and the University of Michigan, receiving a BA in English (1966) and a PhD in anthropology (1975). He wrote his doctoral thesis on his fieldwork with fishermen in Eastern Maine, after which he taught fortwo years at the University of Maine at Portland-Gorham and five years at Goddard College in Vermont. With his wife, Lindy Hough, he is cofounding publisher of North Atlantic Books and its forerunner, the journal Io. His works include early books of experimental prose; a series of titles on holistic medicine, cosmology, and embryology; two memoirs; and recent books re-exploring these themes, related topics, and aspects of contemporary politics and pop culture.
After living in Berkeley, California, from 1976 for thirty-eight years, Grossinger and Hough moved back to Portland, Maine, in 2014. They have also lived part-time in Manset, Maine, since 2001. Their children are Robin Grossinger, a historical geographer at San Francisco Estuary Institute, and Miranda July, a writer, film director, and conceptual artist.
For more information and texts, see www.richardgrossinger.com.
I do not generally believe in reading from published prose, so I will read from two unpublished books, Episodes in Disguise of a Marriage and Bottoming Out The Universe: Karma, Reincarnation, and Personal Identity. Episodes is the second volume of my nonfiction literary trilogy.
Episodes in Disguise of a Marriage
The three books in this trilogy (New Moon: A Coming-of-Age Tale, Episodes, and Out of Babylon) fall somewhere between memoirs and novels. My key decisions are novelistic but, like memoirs, they are true, or meant to be, though not always factual. I didn’t make up characters or events, but I omitted things that a memoir would include and occasionally combined two or more people or events and shifted a timeline to serve the narrative arc.
The topic of this book is excruciating to the point of borderline unwritable. There is no comfortable language in our time for sex and sexual fantasy or, for that matter, the paradoxes of personal identity, intimacy, and relationship. For me, being a writer bears responsibility to find language for the most challenging and elusive aspects of human existence. This agenda is existential and non-negotiable and speaks to all my work but particularly the books in this trilogy. In any other sense Episodes would best have gone unwritten.
Bottoming Out the Universe:
Bottoming Out is the draft of my last volume in a series that goes Planet Medicine; The Night Sky: Soul and Cosmos; Embryogenesis: Species Gender and Identity; Embryos, Galaxies, and Sentient Beings: How the Universe Makes Life; and Dark Pool of Light: Reality and Consciousness (three volumes separately titled). I am working on the issue of the cosmic field, what it is and how it got here. You can look at a working draft: https://www.richardgrossinger.com/2016/05/bottoming-out-the-universe-karma-reincarnation-and-personal-identity/.
Darlin’ You is a literary upmarket post World War II novel about a love triangle between two dynamic women in the early 50s and the man who loves them both. The characters struggle with the pleasures and agonies of secrecy, truth, individuation, and marriage in this repressive era against the backdrop of the uranium boom in the Four Corners area.
In 1953 wild commodities speculation has been fueled by Los Alamos’s need for raw uranium ore for the Manhattan Project. Nationally, Cold War tension is exacerbating fears of widespread Communist subversion—Senator Joe McCarthy is on a rampage with a huge dragnet, calling up suspected Communists, conducting homosexual witch-hunts. In the Four Corners, Navajo uranium miners are contracting lung cancer from exposure to radioactive dust.
Set during nine months in 1953, the story unfolds from different vantage points, including two children. The plot is anchored by Rebecca, a Denver collage artist who teaches in a school for brain-injured children and is married to Jeremy, with whom she has three girls. He publishes oil and uranium trade journals—travelling to southwestern states on business, testifying in Congressional hearings, and leading a world tour of uranium investors. Gossip about Jeremy leads Rebecca to burlesque stripper Cinnamon Blue, who is quirky, outspoken, and daring. A halting friendship is formed and deepens into a passionate love affair with consequences and choices, as Rebecca learns that others are illuminated by illuminating herself.