Review: Amelia Gray – “Gutshot: Stories”

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Gutshot: Stories by Amelia Gray
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is an interesting collection of short stories, of which “Fifty Ways to Eat Your Lover” is the apex of them all, others are a bit boring and mainly feel like scare tactics, but the experimental feel and sharpness of the stories make this for a worthy read.

From the aforementioned piece:

When he buys you a drink, plunge a knife into his nose and carve out a piece.
When he asks you what you do for a living, dig into his spine with a broken juice glass.
When he wonders aloud if you ever get that feeling about someone, bite his tongue out of his mouth.
When he says you have a beautiful body, seize his Achilles tendon.
When he slides his hand under your thigh, sliver off his earlobe.
When he persuades you to spend the night, sink your teeth into his collarbone.
When he asks if you’re on the Pill, squeeze your pelvic floor until his penis pops off.
When he wakes up in the morning, clip his eyelashes and snort them.
When he makes the bed, open up the vein inside his elbow.
When he stops by your place after work, crush his skull with a tire iron and lick his brain.
When he gives you a book he likes, dip him into a deep fryer.
When he asks you out again, stab him with a box cutter and suck the wound.

Some stories are extremely short, others a tad longer, but most are engaging. For instance:

William was a puker. His expulsions—the color, consistency, and volume of a baby’s—occurred after every sentence he spoke. This unfortunate fact of life began innocently enough during his infant coos and babbles, but by the time he was barfing onto his coloring books, the doctors were stumped. He had to carry a paper cup throughout middle school. By high school he didn’t have to worry about direct ridicule any longer, because he had no friends. And then everyone in his peer group graduated and left town and he was blessedly, blissfully alone.

We were in the parking lot of a Dunkin’ Donuts in Beaumont when I told Kyle. I figured I’d rather be out under God as I announced the reason for all my illness and misery. I said Well shit. Guess we’re having a baby. “Lemme see,” Kyle said, frowning at the test for a second before tossing it into a planter. He flipped the double deuce to a stranger who had set his coffee down to applaud. “People these days,” Kyle said. I said my folks would be happy. “Here’s the thing though,” he said. “Your folks are dead. And I have a warrant out for my arrest. And you’re forty years old. And I am addicted to getting tattoos. And our air conditioner’s broke. And you are drunk every day. And all I ever want to do is fight and go swimming. And I am addicted to keno. And you are just covered in hair. And I’ve never done a load of laundry in my life. And you are still technically married to my dealer. And I refuse to eat vegetables. And you can’t sleep unless you’re sleeping on the floor. And I am addicted to heroin. And honest to God, you got big tits but you make a shitty muse. And we are in Beaumont.” I said these were minor setbacks on the road to glory. “And,” he added, “the Dunkin’ Donuts is on fire.”

Some lines are just pretty:

One of the kids at school says You would be cool if you weren’t so stupid, and I think like Yeah, this heart is the same way.

The photographer’s assistant had tried to cover Marcy’s pimple with a concealer before the ceremony, but Marcy waved her off. It would shine as if it contained its own light.

All in all, it’s flawed, but pretty enough to keep its light going. It doesn’t really wane, and the stories are quite consistent.

I’ve posted an entire piece from the book here.

View all my reviews

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2 Responses to “Review: Amelia Gray – “Gutshot: Stories””

  1. Niklas' blog » Blog Archive Amelia Gray - "The Swan as Metaphor for Love" - Niklas' blog Says:

    […] « Review: Amelia Gray – “Gutshot: Stories” […]

  2. Niklas' blog » Blog Archive Review: "Lullaby" by Leïla Slimani, translated by Sam Taylor - Niklas' blog Says:

    […] of the book is not very complex, but why should it be? It’s akin to reading Kurt Vonnegut or Amelia Grey, whose stories often rely on being quite curt, and still emotional due to being […]

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