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Gregory Gibson, Spring 1998, photo by Rudy Rucker
|Born||Gregory Arthur Gibson|
|Alma mater||Swarthmore College|
|Known for||Gone Boy|
His father was a traveling salesman, and his family moved frequently, mostly in the northeastern quarter of the country. He graduated Massapequa High School, Massapequa, New York in 1963, and Swarthmore College, Swarthmore, Pennsylvania in 1967. He then joined the United States Navy and spent three years as a shipfitter on a sub tender, sailing up and down the Pacific coast. Gibson has said he considers this period “an ideal grad school experience”.
After the Navy he moved to Gloucester, Massachusetts and got a job repairing docks on the waterfront. This was unsatisfying, since he wanted to be a writer. However, he’d gotten married and started a family, so he postponed writing books and began selling them instead. In 1976 he opened his own antiquarian book business, Ten Pound Island Book Co., specializing in old and rare maritime books and manuscripts. Ten Pound Island Book Company also publishes books primarily of local interest
In 1992 his oldest son was murdered, the random victim of a rampage shooting at Simon's Rock. The shock of this event caused him to write a book investigating how such a thing could happen. The book, Gone Boy: A Walkabout, met with critical success, and was Entertainment Weekly’s “best book of the year” for 1999. The satisfaction Gibson derived from writing it convinced him that he should write another one. Demon of the Waters: The True Story of the Mutiny of the Whaleship Globe was the result. This book tells the story of the grisliest mutiny in the history of American whaling, and it, too, was well reviewed. The New York Times deemed it “a worthy contribution to the literature of whaling”.
Gibson’s third book Hubert's Freaks, is the story of Bob Langmuir, a gifted but troubled antiquarian book dealer whose headlong pursuit of the archive of a Times Square freak show led him to the discovery of a trove of hitherto unknown photographs by the great American photographer Diane Arbus. Also in the archive were the notes and dream journals of Charlie Lucas, an African American performance artist who ran the freak show (it was called Hubert’s Museum) in the 1950s and 60s. The discovery so excited Bob that he commenced an affair with Arbus, and a soul-communion with Lucas, even though both had been dead for decades. When he was released from the Behavioral Health Evaluation Unit he resolved to redeem himself and his discovery by taking it into New York’s high-end art world. What follows is both a spiritual journey and a fresh look at the business of art. Larry McMurtry said of the book, “Hubert's Freaks will fascinate those among us who are continually stimulated by the richness and variety of American subcultures. I devoured it”.
Gibson’s non-fiction works specialize in the close examination of various American sub-cultures, from gun collectors to whaleship crewmen to freak show performers, usually as seen through the eyes of a single strongly delineated character. His approach combines unflinching realism with dark, dry humor.
- "Elegy for a Gone Boy". Time. October 4, 1999. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
- "Helter-Skelter on the High Seas". The New York Times. May 19, 2002. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
- ""Hubert's Freaks": Rare photos lead art dealer on freaky ride of 1950s N.Y.". The Seattle Times. June 13, 2008. Retrieved November 9, 2010.
Gregory Gibson's web log: http://bookmanslog.blogspot.com