HITTING SHELVES #19: Gutshot by Amelia Gray


Gutshot by Amelia Gray comes out today!

It’s the fourth book from an absolute wizard of short fiction. Gray’s stories come in many different moods—fanciful, haunting, tender, bizarre—but each one is surprisingly brief and surprisingly excellent. In “Gutshot,” a man who’s been shot in the gut exclaims “Jesus Christ,” and Jesus Christ consoles him by pointing to a plane overhead that’s flying to Dallas. (It makes sense when you read it.) In “These Are the Fables,” two lovers flee the parking lot of a Dunkin’ Donuts that is burning down, and their eccentric journey becomes a tale that they tell their child. Each of Gray’s stories is like that—a blast of ice water thrown in your face.

We asked the author one question.

How are you celebrating the publication of Gutshot?

Amelia Gray: When Gutshot comes out, I’ll be in New York. It will be the day after the great Franklin Park Reading Series, where I’m reading with Colson Whitehead, Tobias Carroll, Wendy C. Ortiz and Natalie Eilbert. I will start the day by trotting my hungover ass down to Bergen Bagels for Brooklyn’s finest bagel, untoasted if I’m up early enough, which I almost certainly won’t be. I will eat the toasted bagel with serious gusto while standing by the high counter and then I will walk to a coffee shop with my computer, a ThinkPad which weighs approximately eight hundred pounds, maybe actually gaining as the years pass, like the words all get jammed up in its weakening battery. Its keys have the kind of strong action that makes me feel like I’m saying the right thing.

Amelia Gray
Amelia Gray

At the coffee shop, sitting with my heavy old laptop and a cup of coffee, I will figure out something to work on. I’m finishing a novel and writing on assignment for a few different places. There’s nothing that time-sensitive this week, which is good because working hungover presents a special kind of agony and the point of it isn’t to get things done anyway; it’s to remind myself that this is just one day in the work. Some of my best work days are birthdays and publication days, probably because those are the days when I most keenly realize that I’m going to die. I have to work every day or else I feel like a used yogurt cup already kicking around the landfill.

That’s the difference between me and Gutshot. Whether the reviews call me the Next Great Big American Fuckall Genius or it sinks like a stone into the general consciousness, this little book will outlive me. Someone will page through it in a thrift store and not think even once that a living person wrote it while drinking coffee and listening to the general busy noise of a coffee shop. It will be its own thing, this book. I place it on a paper boat and push it out into the water, waving from the shore. Or it pushes me. Either way, this is goodbye. I’ll think a little about that while I’m writing that day and then I’ll get back to work before things get too heavy. That night I’ll have oysters and champagne with my friends and we will busy ourselves with being alive.

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