A woman creeps through the ductwork of a quiet home. A medical procedure reveals an object of worship. A carnivorous reptile divides and cauterizes a town. Amelia Gray's curio cabinet expands in Gutshot, where isolation and coupling are pushed to their dark and outrageous edges.
Just about the whole collection, each story no more than a handful of pages, finds most of its characters defined by the extremity of their situations — or quirks, or insecurities — yet they deal with it all as a matter of course ... For the most part, though, Amelia Gray sounds like no one else. Her writing is by turns horrifying, funny, sexy and grotesque, but woe be to those who want to pin it down as horror, comedy, romance or fantasy. Sentence by sentence, these stories are simple, rarely complicated by rhetorical flourishes or formal experimentation, but the scenes they build can be deeply complex — and the emotions they summon often contradictory, too. And, at the beating heart of it all, Gray's on a quest to reclaim the body's rightful place in literature — the clumsy, bloody, inconvenient body, which so often gets left behind in high-minded drama ... By baring a bit of blood to the world, she reminds readers we're blood-bearing creatures after all, not just selves but bodies with beating hearts.
In Gutshot, Gray continues to use mentally unstable and unpredictable characters, and thus is able to create worlds with uncanny realities, at once strange and familiar, and always unexpected ... Perhaps the most unsettling attribute of Gray’s writing is her deadpan presentation of what are quite often unspeakable acts, and while this unsettling detachment gnaws away as we read, we are unwilling to remove ourselves from our discomfort before reaching the disturbing climax ... At no point does Gray indicate if she supports or condemns their beliefs and behaviors, and this absence of moral compass permeates her work, causing the reader to question their own morality when faced with such ambiguity ... By making us laugh, she offers a brief thrill of pleasure, before plunging us back into the horror. It can, at times, be alienating, and certainly one needs a strong stomach to read.
...her new story collection, Gutshot, is a bizarre and darkly funny world made of molten sugar and the ashes of everything she has set alight ... Reading Gutshot is a little like being blindfolded and pelted from all sides with fire, Jell-O and the occasional live animal. You’ll be messy at the end and slightly beaten up, but surprised and certainly entertained ... This is vintage Amelia Gray, a phantasmagoria of sex and love and perversion circling the idea of predator and prey, the idea of impulse and will and control. As with so many of her stories, she pushes against the outer limits of what humans can and will do ... Some stories will test readers and lose them.