Thursday, October 22, 2015

Review: "Gutshot" by Amelia Gray

I have never been a fan of flash fiction. Most times, I just find it very lifeless and clinical, so much so that it is very hard to enjoy. But that is not the case with Amelia Gray’s new book of short stories, Gutshot. It still falls into some of the same traps that this kind of writing presents, but just less so than other collections that are similar to this one. Among some of the stories that didn’t work, which there are more than a few, were some real eye openers for me, presenting an interesting, sometimes fascinating idea, extrapolating it over the course of a few pages, and moving onto the next one. Gray, judging from this book and her novel Threats (which this is better than), isn’t so much interested in investigating human interaction than dissecting it with untrained hands, staring at the guts and intestines of her subjects, and making something truly inspired and truly crazy out of it. This process does produce mixed results, but results nonetheless. There are 37 stories in this collection, some no more than a page long accounting for breaks between. I will discuss a few that I really liked. For me, the book doesn’t take off until the second section, with the story “Western Passage”, about a woman who makes a connection with another woman on train after she is propositioned for sex by a creepy guy. He drives him away, and they become an oddly friendly duo. I found a lot a menace in this story, but it takes a different, less nefarious path by the end. “A Gentleman”, a short about a guy, supposedly on a first date, holding back the hair of his hygienically challenged date while she vomits, is typical of this collections unending ambiguity, and is the best of its bunch. But the best story here is “Fifty Ways to Eat Your Lover”, which tracks a relationship based on fairy tale violence from attraction to death. It has to be read to be believed, and while I can’t put my finger on it’s meaning, it’s the strongest story in this book. I still won’t take many journeys down the flash fiction rabbit hole, but I’m walking away from this one more than satisfied.

Rating: 4/5

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