Born to a troubled rural family in Rocky Mount, North Carolina, Grimsley said of his childhood that "for us in the South, the family is a field where craziness grows like weeds".
After moving to Atlanta he would spend nearly twenty years as a secretary at Atlanta's Grady Memorial Hospital before joining the creative-writing faculty at Emory University. During those years, Grimsley wrote prolifically, with fourteen of his plays produced between 1983 and 1993.
His initial forays into novel writing were less successful than his dramatic work. The semiautobiographical Winter Birds was rejected as "too dark" by American publishers for ten years before appearing in a German edition; it only appeared in English two years later. The novel then brought Grimsley much recognition: the Sue Kaufman Prize for First Fiction from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and a PEN/Hemingway Award citation.
It was followed by Dream Boy which received the American Library Association's Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual Book Award for Literature (Stonewall Book Award), and My Drowning, which won the Lila Wallace-Readers Digest Writers' Award. Subsequently he wrote the high fantasy novel Kirith Kirin, which won the Lambda Literary Award, or 'Lammy', for best gay-themed science fiction or fantasy for the year 2000. This classically-themed fantasy work was followed by two science fiction novels, The Ordinary and The Last Green Tree (2006 sequel to The Ordinary). His novel Forgiveness (ISBN 9780292716698) was published in 2007. Four of Grimsley's plays are collected in Mr. Universe and Other Plays.
Jim Grimsley, 1992, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1123806)
American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitalSource: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jim_Grimsley
Any list of great gay writers of our time that does not include Jim Grimsley cannot be taken seriously. All of his work is extraordinary; Comfort and Joy is my personal favorite. A beautifully written love story about two men from different classes in Atlanta (one from a poor background, the other from a wealthy society family in Savannah), their romance is juxtaposed against their extremely different relationships with their families, culminating with Christmas visits to both. Complex and richly drawn, this book will make you laugh and cry, and ultimately leaves the reader the better for having read it. --Greg Herren
The combined delicacy and force of this love story, Comfort and Joy, is one that has drawn me back to re-read it several times. Grimsely’s writing has a lyrical quality that appeals to the poet in me and he has a poet’s eye for acutely conveyed detail and nuance. This is a subtle but powerful of the challenges of gay male relationships that manages to be both romantic and real and poignant without ever becoming maudlin or melodramatic. His Danny and Ford are men navigating the always tricky and often turbulent waters of a gay relationship in ways that I think any gay man who’s ever been in love can recognize and feel in his gut. --Dan Stone
Comfort & Joy by Jim Grimsley is a story of a couple struggling through their past, through family relations, and through each other over the holidays. Expertly written, evocative and with real, painful characters that pull you through to the end. --Astrid Amara
Jim Grimsley's Dream Boy is about the discovery and flowering of same-sex love in high school, with a touch of magical realism. The familiar themes of social pressure, closeted sneaking around, and bruised innocence all come into play in this well-written novel, and yet Grimsley makes something new and surprising out of them. --Kyell GoldFurther Readings:
Comfort and Joy by Jim Grimsley
Paperback: 304 pages
Publisher: Algonquin Books (October 16, 2003)
Amazon: Comfort and Joy
Amazon Kindle: Comfort and Joy
Ford McKinney leads a charmed life: he's a young doctor possessing good looks, good breeding, and money. He comes from an old Savannah family where his parents, attentive to his future, focus their energies on finding their son--their golden boy--a girl to marry. But how charmed is this life when Ford's own heart suspects that he is not meant to spend his life with a woman? His suspicions are confirmed when he meets Dan Crell.
Dan is a quiet man with a great voice. Behind the tempered facade of the shy hospital administrator is a singer who can transform a room with his soaring voice, leaving his listeners in awe and reverence. Ford catches one such Christmas concert and his life is never quite the same; he is touched in a place he keeps hidden, forbidden. When Ford and Dan begin to explore the limits of their relationship, Dan's own secrets are exposed--and his mysterious and painful childhood returns to haunt him.
In Comfort and Joy Jim Grimsley finds a marriage between the stark and stunning pain of his prize-winning Winter Birds and the passion of critically acclaimed Dream Boy. In this, his fourth novel, he considers pressing questions. How does a man reconcile the child he was raised to be with the man that he truly is? What happens when an adult has to choose between his parents and a lover?
More Particular Voices at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Particular Voices
More Spotlights at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Lists/Gay Novels
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