A collection of personal essays first published in the Petoskey (Mich.) News-Review. A Gifted Journalist and Storyteller Brings Heart and Humor to Life.
Baby boomers will appreciate this collection of warm and humorous stories on family, youth, relationships, politics, and predicaments. Fred Gray captures the essence of what makes life interesting, whether he is writing about college pranks, weddings, looking for a job, family vacations, dating, and childhood. Find a comfortable spot, sit back, and get ready to laugh and nod your head at the outrageousness of life!
“Marvelous! A true revelation! From the funny and poignant
opening profile of his brother Dave to the absolutely perfect last
line of the book, this is a collection to be savored, cherished and
admired. Every writer dreams of finding his ideal turf, the place or
subject that will make his talent soar. Fred Gray has found his in
the birch and huckleberries of his native Michigan—and we, his
grateful readers, are all the richer for it.”
- Paul Chutkow, author of an acclaimed biography of French actor Gerard Depardieu and the memoirs of Napa Valley pioneer Robert Mondavi
“Fred combines a little Mark Twain with a dash of Paul Harvey and Andy Rooney to bring alive everyday observations. Fred’s common sense and great humor bring life to his stories. It’s a writing style that I thought was long lost; but alas, lives on with Fred Gray. These are wonderful stories!”
- David Crouse, Emmy Award-winning documentary producer
"Fred Gray’s grasp of the human condition is obvious, and his visceral sense of humor is never far from the surface . . . If you love our language, are frustrated by its misuse by many ‘professionals’ in the print media, and cherish authors like Hemingway, reading That’s Outrageous! will truly be a treat.”
- Dick Bidstrup, Central American archaeologist, retired surveyor,
and long-time Emmet County Commissioner
“Fred Gray’s writing is much like songwriter Sammy Cahn’s
descriptions of “The Second Time Around.” The words are like a
friendly home the second time you call. They speak of the comfort
and solace of steady matured love; love that has weathered storms
yet knows its own port.”
- Mary Stewart Adams, author of Dark Skies Advocate and the Fairy Tale Moons calendar
“I salute you for your gift of laughter, keen wit, and ability to
throw caution to the wind and go for whatever you believe in. Your
book is amazing, written from the heart.”
Susan Manturuk, who played a small part in Fred’s literary journey
(see “Hair Loss” and “Long Tall Sally”)
“That’s Outrageous!” is a large, juicy slice of life
By Kendall Stanley
Petoskey News-Review Managing Editor
Monday, November 24, 2008
“That’s Outrageous!” is a large, juicy slice of life, and if you couldn’t wait to turn to this spot on the Opinion Page for a fix of Fred Gray’s columns you now have a book in which to revel.
Fred has pulled together the best of his columns from his eight years here at
the News-Review, breaking it down into chapters of family, life, Mom,
relationships, youth, politics and predicaments. If you know Fred, you know
those are apt section headings.
The range of the columns is not confined to the environs of Petoskey, oh no.
Fred is a traveler and adventurer, going so far as driving to Minnesota —
Minnesota! — to fish with his old buddy Ray. His traveling steed, a ’94 Ford
Explorer with more miles on it than should be mechanically possible, has seen
all of the UP and much of the top third of the Lower. And it’s amazing how many times Fred was out and about in inclement weather — snow, wind and rain are not strangers to his steely steed.
Fred takes note of his Associated Press friend Paul Chutkow, who enthused after a review of some of Fred’s column that he had found his voice. Fred claims not to know what that means for a writer, finding a voice, but he does and he has.
Topics — such as some on relationships — are lost on young writers, unsure yet of their exact place in the cosmos. Fred is not lost.
His nostalgic look back at summers at the cottage near Mackinaw City and the
activities undertaken are jewels, capturing a different time in such a way you wished you were there — all the while without being wrapped in mushy
sentimentality. It’s the experience you want to capture.
So if you couldn’t wait for Fred to weigh in on matters big and small in his
columns, this is the book for you.
Look for it at local bookstores, or order directly at
More than the mere title of a book, “That’s Outrageous!” has been a calling card of sorts for author Fred Gray
By Benjamin Gohs Courier Editor
Tuesday, November 25, 2008
More than the mere title of a book, “That’s Outrageous!” has been a calling card of sorts for author Fred Gray, a former staff writer for the Petoskey News-Review, Associated Press writer and a 20-year veteran of Reuters where he was a senior editor and director of technical operations.
“It is the last great challenge in my 40-year career in journalism and something I have always wanted to do,” Gray said. “I felt I had a unique style and the stories were highly personal and worth telling.”
He added, “Admittedly an unusual offering, but why not?”
Whether arguing the merits of a story with editors or verbally pinning down public officials until they answered the tough questions, Gray’s in-depth knowledge of the obscure married with the experience of a well traveled soul made for a columnist who was at worst incredulous, and at best observant and more than willing to share what he’d witnessed.
“That’s Outrageous!” is a collection of Gray’s favorite columns during his more than six years with the Petoskey News-Review.
And, while a few columns like “The Press” and “Procrastination” take place elsewhere, much of Gray’s book focuses on northern Michigan.
“It’s occasionally sentimental, poetic, evocative, and a few columns have left more than one reader in tears, and others convulsed in laughter. Or so they say,” he said. “
Born and raised in Grand Rapids, Gray attended East Grand Rapids High School, where he played football and the trombone in the marching band. Feats he said he performed “almost at the same time.”
Gray’s connection to northern Michigan began many decades ago when he traveled here to visit relatives.
“I spent part of my summers as a kid at my grandparents’ cottage at Point Nipigon, located on the Straits between Mackinaw City and Cheboygan,” he said.
Before his long career in the news business, Gray worked for the Kent County Road Commission during two summers while attending Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire.
“It was great for the physique but the road crew spent far too much time reading girlie magazines in the back of the pickup during rainstorms,” He said.
Gray spent the summer of 1963 studying Russian language and civilization, his major, in Munich with five other Dartmouth students, and this may explain his love of borsch.
“We lived with families in Poland and traveled through the Soviet Union in a Volkswagen camping bus for a month,” he said. “We had an Intourist guide accompanying us at all times to keep us on the straight and narrow, and spent eight hours as we departed at the Czech border being debriefed by the KGB.”
See Gray’s column “Nina” for more on his travels in Russia.
“I remained in Munich when the others returned to college and found a job for eight months as copy boy in the multi-language Radio Liberty,” he said. “During the summer of 1964 I traveled through Europe, sleeping in barnyards and out-of-the-way places.”
Following college, Gray attended two years at the University of Michigan Law, then transferred to the graduate school of journalism school before joining the Associated Press in Detroit in 1970 and beginning his career in journalism.
Some of the highlights of Gray’s career include covering the death of Walter Reuther when his Lear jet crashed at Pellston airport in 1970, and later editing the copy of AP Vietnam correspondent Peter Arnett on the Foreign Desk, meeting Peter and the other AP and Reuter correspondents when they passed through New York and during his travels elsewhere.
“I was in charge of Reuters coverage of the Olympics in Calgary and Atlanta,” he said. “At Reuters I put together the daily news schedule for the Americas and sent it to London for inclusion in the world digest, then helped edit the major stories of the day.”
Aside from publishing his first book, Gray is currently the Director of Communications and Web site Development for Emmet County.
“I truly believe we are blessed to live in this incredibly beautiful region. Our goal is to attract people from all over to live, recreate, retire, and invest in the county. It’s a dream job,” he said. “We have done some innovative things such as produce quality brochures highlighting the strengths of the area, advertising on the Petoskey News-Review Web site, and producing videos of local citizens expounding on why the have chosen to live here. They include Dan Musser III, president of the Grand Hotel; David Johnson, the visionary founder of Bay Harbor; entrepreneurs Larry Beck and Justin Rashid; Cameron Brunet-Koch, president of NCMC, and others equally brilliant.”
Visit www.emmetcounty.org to see the videos.
For more on Gray’s book and upcoming book signings and points of purchase, visit www.flowingwellpublications.com.
Want to review or comment on this
Click here to login!
Need a FREE Reader Membership?
Click here for your Membership!