Gutshot

Gutshot

by Amelia Gray

Paperback

$12.98 $14.00 Save 7% Current price is $12.98, Original price is $14. You Save 7%.
View All Available Formats & Editions
Eligible for FREE SHIPPING
  • Want it by Wednesday, October 24?   Order by 12:00 PM Eastern and choose Expedited Shipping at checkout.

Overview

Gutshot by Amelia Gray

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. A master of the macabre, Gray's work is not for the faint of heart or gut: lick at your own risk.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374175443
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 04/14/2015
Pages: 224
Sales rank: 1,231,660
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Amelia Gray grew up in Tucson, Arizona. She is the author of three books: AM/PM, Museum of the Weird (winner of the Ronald Sukenick/American Book Review Innovative Fiction Prize), and THREATS (a finalist for the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction). She lives in Los Angeles, where she is at work on a novel.

Read an Excerpt

Gutshot

Stories


By Amelia Gray

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Copyright © 2015 Amelia Gray
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-374-71257-0


CHAPTER 1

In the Moment


It had been a memorable date after such a long line of failures. Turns out they had hidden the same punk tapes in their closets as teenagers and had always secretly wanted to work as photographers for nature magazines. Neither had been to Europe and both dropped an ice cube in their morning cup of coffee. Her name was Emily, a name she hated, but Mark found it reminded him of reading picture books with a flashlight under the covers of his childhood bed. Emily was the name of a girl hero whose intrepid adventures took her around the world and even underground. It was a far better name, anyway, than Mark, a name that regularly conjured the image of a bucket of black paint thrown against a prison wall. They were both morally but not financially satisfied with their current mid-level organizational positions—they had discussed the subject at length the week before during the nonprofit conference where they met—and hoped to strike out on their own someday, individually. "Or together," Mark said, raising his glass.

"I was hoping you would come up," she said, once they were outside her apartment.

"Boy howdy," he said. And so began their first evening together, in the elevator and then tumbling over the bed and in a pile of her clean laundry, and later, unpleasantly wedged between the oven and the refrigerator in a move she claimed was solely for luck. He was fascinated by her textures: a rough spot on the side meat of her buttock; a thin rumpled place on the back of her hand where she had burned herself with oil. She had a little round mass the size of a ball bearing in her left breast. All of this was new to Mark and he was glad to experience it.

"Your body is tremendous," she said after. He didn't feel that his body was much beyond a device that propelled him from breakfast to dinner—it featured a growing paunch and a knee that tricked up before wet weather—and he nearly told her so before realizing that she was happy with him and trying to be kind, and it had been so long since a woman had tried to be kind with him that he was immediately lulled into peace with her, and they fell asleep right there in the bathtub.

A series of successful dates followed. They decided that when they were old, they would buy an RV and take it around the country to attend garlic festivals and state fairs. She brought a bale of fresh hay home from the farmers' market so they could experience what it felt like to take a roll in it. Mark realized in short order that he loved Emily and that he was afraid to lose her, and the two thoughts abutted unpleasantly and spoiled an entire evening because he couldn't eat his dinner for watching her and then fainted getting into the cab and woke up in her living room, confessing his fears while she held a damp cloth against his forehead.

"We are connected in this manner and I am afraid," he was saying.

"You must practice the act of connection without attachment," she said. "Think of us as two stones together at the bottom of a shallow stream. We jostle against each other." She pushed him gently on the shoulder to illustrate the concept of jostling. "Eventually the stream pulls us apart, or covers us with a fine silt."

"That seems bad."

"When you truly understand it, it will remove all suffering." She dropped the cloth into a bowl of cool water she had prepared. His limbs were too heavy to reach for her and so she stripped him from the waist down right there on the couch and did all the work. Her breast brushed against his cheek and he visualized the lump inside as a pebble in a stream, which he might observe without attachment.

They made dinners and vacation plans and he moved his things into her apartment. Mark felt closer to Emily than he had felt to any other person living or dead since grade school, when he and a group of boys formed a secret society in the woods behind the Dairy Queen. He tried to imagine being eight years old, there in the woods, and projected himself into his younger body and mind. He tried to tell that boy that not thirty years later he would meet a woman who would give him such a feeling of peace. The young boy listened and then called his older self a gaylord and Mark said Fair enough, Young Mark, I have become a Gaylord of Love.

He went to the mall and bought Emily a pendant on a long silver chain and presented it to her and recited the chorus of a Fleetwood Mac song that dealt chiefly with the concept of running into the shadows, and Emily put the necklace on and said it was fine.

He liked to cook and she took out the trash. They both cleaned the bathtub on occasion. It was a pretty good setup. Whenever he faced a problem at work, for example when his coworker came back from England and put a poster of Stonehenge up over the window and Mark could no longer see the street, Emily taught him to view each day as a wild element divorced from past and future. He needed not to exist as a point on a vector but ultimately to destroy the vector and inhabit that solitary point, like living inside a meteor without fear or knowledge of its movement. If he could place himself in the moment of sitting in the office without recalling the view from the window or anticipating a morning where he felt sick with desire for the pleasure of simple natural light, he might see that the poster threw a greenish shade over his cubicle corner and gave the impression that he was working under a pane of stained glass.

"But then I'd have to remember a time I stood before a church window," he said, "thereby entering the past."

"That is not what this is about," she said, and he saw that she was right, because he couldn't remember what any of it was about. They were watching Korean-language television at the time. A problem with the cable provider resulted in them only receiving Korean-language television, but after a few disorienting days they found it was comforting to observe the dramas without context and they watched them as children watch adults, taking cues from laughing or weeping and then mirroring the gestures.

Later that week, he forgot that they had gone grocery shopping and returned home with a bag of plums to add to a rotting pile of nectarines. He left it all there, determined to understand their use. Cartons of eggs stacked up in the fridge and she speculated that she could make a quiche but she had distanced herself mentally from any recipe and so cracked the eggs in a pan and poked them listlessly on the stove until they burned and had to be thrown out.

"We should go out with our friends this weekend," he said.

"We don't have friends," she said.

The house phone rang and he picked it up. "Is my daughter there?" a woman asked, Mark realized after a moment, in English.

"Who is your daughter?"

"Emily is my daughter," she said. "Are you her new boyfriend?"

He was quiet, turning over the idea that Emily had a mother. He imagined a whole gloomy family tree, and then imagined taking a chain saw to the tree and sitting on the stump, listening to Fleetwood Mac on a cassette player and waiting for the wood to dry so he could burn it. He pulled the phone out of the wall and threw it in the recycling and then he picked it out of the recycling and put it in the trash.

She followed his lead on clearing the place and at turns brought out to the curb a jar of olives, curtain rods, ice cube trays, an electric guitar, a vacuum cleaner, silverware, her baby pictures, a bag of shampoos collected from hotel rooms, and the hay from the farmers' market, which she stuffed into three paper bags. She hired men to remove the couch and the TV and when she had no cash for payment they additionally removed a box of jewelry.

At work, he stood with his nose to the Stonehenge poster until a woman from Human Resources asked him if he might like to take a walk with her. She said that his performance had been going sideways lately and that they were looking for someone moving in more of a vertical direction. The words coming out of her mouth didn't make sense and Mark tried taking context clues from the pictures of children and mountains set in frames on her desk. Before she outlined his severance package, she had to ask him to stop chanting.

The walk home was deeply satisfying, so ideal in the movements of the small animals and in the appearance of flaws in the road. Even the flaws, on further observation, were so perfectly placed that they stood as proof of a grand design created for his witness. He sat down on the sidewalk to observe the way a banner flapped beneath a store awning and stayed there for a few hours, leaning against a mailbox.

He returned home to find Emily sitting on a milk crate in the middle of their empty apartment. She was naked from the waist up and examining her bra. "What do you think this is?" she asked, turning the cup so he could observe the flecks of dried blood inside it.

"I have no idea." And indeed, though he searched his memory, all he turned up were strange pictures out of place: a hornet alighting on the upper corner of his crib and disgorging the first papered layer of its nest; a woman kneeling before a man, both robed in white; a boy seeming to leap from his bike onto the hood of a passing car. "I can't even imagine."


House Heart

The home remains. Even if the house was razed, the foundation scored and broken, and the pieces carried away, there would be a feeling of home, where people cooked dinner or lay down exhausted or looked out the window at the garbage truck rumbling down the road.

Our home was once the preparation wing of a garment factory, in which material was boiled with chemicals to change its color and character. We found this information in public records, though hints were present in the scars on the concrete where machines were once bolted, an industrial ventilation system like an artery across the high, open ceiling, feeding air to each white-walled room. The larger silo has since been destroyed and replaced with a new shopping complex, but our home remains, a testament to utility.

It was my idea to rent the girl. My partner called a service and asked the receptionist if their business practices included the concept of fair trade. It was important to him as a consumer, and the least he could do would be to utilize his privilege to benefit others, even in some small way. As he spoke, I rubbed the crotch of his jeans.

The girl arrived the next morning and rang the bell twice while we took turns admiring her through the peephole. She read our address from a pink notebook. Her hair was blond and ironed straight and she was falsely tanned. She leaned back to look up and down the street, shading her eyes with the book. While we watched her, my partner asked me if we could educate her on the physical dangers of using chemically bleached products and I said No, none of that.

The girl pounded on our door with her little fist, examining the peephole. We could see her eyes, pale and clear, the whites like water in a dish. It occurred to me that men delivered our groceries and laundry, our products, and this was the first girl I had seen in a year, at least. She looked surprised, shocked even, when my partner unlocked the door and she saw us both standing there, smiling at her, but she entered our home anyway and put down her things. She said she had just come from class and I asked her what class she was taking and she said Life science and I said Ah, yes. Her fingers were manicured with a pink polish. She smelled like a bowl of sugar that had been sprayed with a disinfectant. Even her name sounded processed. My partner clasped the girl's shoulders and told her that he was happy she had come. She started to say something but he embraced her and she frowned and put her tanned arms across his back and said Okay, okay.

My partner suggested that she change into something more comfortable. We led her to the bathroom and she removed her dress before us on the hemp bathmat and stood quietly while we anointed her with oils. I rubbed her feet and legs and my partner did her back. The oil was a jojoba blend to which I had added fresh sage and rosemary. She was tense under my hands. There seemed to be a thin layer of glowing light just under her skin, a scratch away. I began to feel calmer as I rubbed and was able to hear more of the conversation my partner was having with the girl. He talked about how honored we were that she joined us on her journey through life. He asked her the question he had read that morning on his Questions calendar, which was What are you doing to make life more beautiful for the next generation? She said she wanted to be a physical therapist. He moaned a little.

The preparations over, he led the way to the air-conditioner intake duct in the hallway. I passed him a screwdriver and he began to remove the duct's grate, handing me the small screws. He said that becoming a physical therapist was very much like playing House Heart with someone you trust. She said that she didn't understand. She stood between us with her arms crossed over her breasts, each hand holding the opposite shoulder. The oil made a small pool around her toes. I held her hips and kissed her face and tried to tell her a joke but she didn't laugh. She asked what we were doing in the hallway and I told her that my partner and I have a game we like to play and it's a special game to us, very special, but we never have had a chance to share it with someone else, and it would mean so much for us to take that step with her help. He was prying the grate from its spot and so I hushed the girl and patted her round bottom.

The duct's main supply area was large enough for a crouching man to spend a few productive hours on the controls behind locked panels inside. There would be plenty of space for our girl. When we kissed her and coaxed her in, she barely had to bow her head and then stood comfortably. Her feet were bare but I had swept the spot many times before, and that morning had scrubbed it clean with a vinegar-soaked rag. When my partner moved to affix the grate she made a whine of protest, but he explained that sealing her inside would allow us to truly play the game, and that we would be so pleased if she would help us finally achieve this milestone as a couple, a romantic goal for which she would be well compensated, enough to focus on her studies for the remainder of the year. Finally she was silent and the grate was quickly secured.

For a while, nothing happened. I worried for a moment that she had vanished. Then we heard her scraping around, feeling the boundaries with her feet and hands, no doubt discovering there wasn't room for her to sit. My partner said that she would find a duct at her head and one at her feet. Those main lines would branch into smaller channels leading to different rooms; one would end up over the kitchen and another would terminate in the living room, one over the chandelier in the dining room and the other three in the bathroom, bedroom, and office. She would be able to hear us at different points of the ductwork, thanks to the happy accidents of design that allowed for such echoes. In a small voice, the girl asked if we could maybe just let her out. I found my purse in a closet and fed a few singles through the grate. The money stayed stuck or floating there for a moment before she took it. She would have to stand there with it in her hand since she didn't have anywhere to put it.

The scratching continued, the thumps of her body bracing against a confined space, then a sharp kick against the metal. She was crying softly. My partner knocked on the wall and told her to calm herself, that she would earn five times more than she would if she had made love to us in a traditional way. He said there was no danger to playing House Heart, that there were secrets to be found.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Gutshot by Amelia Gray. Copyright © 2015 Amelia Gray. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Interviews

Twisted Heartstrings: Barnes & Noble Review Interview with Amelia Gray

Novelist Amelia Gray creates a series of disturbing surrealities so convincing in their breath, you might find their likeness creeping into the shadows of your own reality. Gray says she doesn't recommend her fourth book as viable pre-bedtime reading. Gutshot presents a collection of stories that masterfully lassoes a spread of fully fleshed nightmare scenarios.

Gray writes magic realism lined with tiny razor teeth; some shiny, some rusted to near-knobs, some warping into bottomless snake pits. Her debut book, AM/PM (2009), whispered signs of the demonic metamorphoses to come — but it was 2010's Museum of the Weird that ignited an unwieldy bonfire of critical praise. The collection of short, dark narratives earned Gray the year's FC2 Ronald Sukenick Innovative Fiction award and roaring approval from heavyweights like the New York Times Sunday book review. Her first novel, 2012's THREATS, a murder mystery laced with psychological thrills, valiantly carried on a torch lit from the Weird pit.

Gutshot is surrounded by flyaway embers from the initial flames, but at this point, Gray's universe has expanded past just one wild element. Her fictional stories trace baseline human fears like suffocation, morbid curiosity, and desperation but nestle them among fluid, bizarre environments. In these gruesome settings — ranging from the cool innards of a mysterious snake to the forefront of a pastry shop as it crackles beneath flames — we catch glimpses of tender emotion among the chaos.

Amelia and I spoke over the phone in March — I from my Atlanta apartment, she from the parking lot of a CVS in Los Angeles. The following interview is an edited transcript of our conversation. Beca Grimm

The Barnes & Noble Review: When did you start putting Gutshot together?

Amelia Gray: I started writing in 2011, after I closed THREATS, my last work. The stories that followed ended up in Gutshot. Creating a collection can be strange. Some of the stories can be very old and dear, some are very new and fresh.

BNR: I noticed a theme in your characters indulging in a courageous itch — like the brave narrator entering the winding maze in "Labyrinth," and the young prostitute trapped in air ducts in "House Heart." It's a truly terrifying detail. I first started reading the collection before going to bed but had to start reading it in the mornings after "House Heart."

AG: [Laughs] Yeah, I wouldn't recommend it as night reading.

BNR: Why and how did this trapped theme come up so much?

AG: The physical space that we're in can often stand for the mental spaces that we're in. A lot of my characters find themselves trapped for a lot of reasons. Sometimes because they think in a certain way or they ended up in a kind of relationship that has allowed that or encouraged that to happen. It ends up being represented in very physical ways, in these stories anyways, showing how your surroundings can mirror your internal mind.

BNR: And how has LA done that to you, if it has?

AG: LA is so open and sprawling that you kinda can't help but create your own maze inside it. Everyone always talks about the traffic — in particular the different routes you take to different places — there's 50 million ways to do a route. So I create my own little maze that I run every day, because sometimes it shifts a little bit.

BNR: How long has it taken you to arrange that?

AG: I moved to LA three years ago. Before that I lived in Austin, Texas — which was kind of a similar thing. I think when you live in any city, you create your world: your favorite places, the people you see, the neighborhoods you love.

BNR: How did you get settled on the West Coast?

AG: Maybe I'm not totally settled in yet. Right when I moved to LA, I moved to East Hollywood on the third floor of an apartment building. My office didn't have a window. It was actually one of my larger closets converted into an office. That's where I lived — in the way that wherever you fall is where you land. Getting used to the city? I guess that depends on what that means — getting from one neighborhood to another is probably one of the more official ways. To recommend you the better Korean barbecue on the West Side in Koreatown.

BNR: Seems like you moved around a bit. Growing up in Arizona, you mentioned Austin and LA now.

AG: Yeah, I lived in Charlotte, North Carolina, for seven years. I grew up in Tucson, went to school in Phoenix, and then Texas, and then LA. It's limited, but it's a pretty good collection.

BNR: Fairly decent menagerie. Jumping back into the book, there's another thing I noticed: this very calm surrender among a lot of the characters trapped in (or roped into) sinister situations. Like the narrator in "Away From," when she's caught mid-escape by her previously sleeping captor after creaking on the stairs. Or the couple learning of their unplanned pregnancy outside the blazing donut shop in "These Are Fables." Everybody seems accepting of their situations. Why don't any of them keep fighting?

AG: I think it goes back to the feeling of trapping yourself in a way of thinking or a way of being. It's something that should be pretty familiar to everyone. Usually we're not trapping ourselves in situations like the poor protagonist in "Away From." But we do find ourselves in dead-ends at the end of mazes we didn't know we were walking. That happens in relationships, that happens in jobs, with our parents. Of course it all ends up looking a little less terrible or funny or dramatic, regardless. But sometimes it is that terrible or funny or dramatic — we always end up looking at the bottom of some barrel.

BNR: How do we or your characters pull this sense of Zen from it? How do they accept it?

AG: Sometimes they're accepting it just because they don't feel they have any other options. Something they are fighting it in their strange little ways, like in "House Heart" when the trapped woman is opening cabinet doors. It's a small way, but it's a way that she's looking outside of her strange resistance into what she imagined is outside. I think that's something everyone does, or aspires to do. In "These Are Fables," there's a pregnancy that will change their lives — the protagonist's life, at least. She finds herself having to physically move out of the situation and into another place. She's interested in getting out of there. There's always some kind of movement.

BNR: When the woman in "The Moment of Conception" sews the narrator's penis into her body, it's pretty intense. How do you write something so vivid from a man's point of view? I don't have a penis, but I could feel the pain while reading it and it was super serious.

AG: [Laughs] I was thinking about how a species of whale does that — I don't know if that's true. But I was reading about how some species of whale, the penis or some sort of sexual organ is removed and contained inside the female. I thought that was so strange and cool. I was thinking at the same time the desperate feeling some people feel when they are trying to conceive a child but they can't. That kind of collaged together, I guess.

In order to write that in a way that was believable, I had to really think about the realities of what it would be like and how it would feel to have some very vital limb removed. I tried to place myself in that situation. I've never had a finger removed or anything else, but surely you'd feel this blinding sensation . . . then maybe a lack of sensation. People who've described feeling intense pain sometimes say they don't remember it at all. I collapsed all these things that I knew and mixed them with things I thought might be possible and ended up with this pretty gruesome thing. Gruesome with a purpose, I think.

BNR: It's interesting because the desire in that story is so palpable they're willing to extract — like you said — vital limbs from a lover's body to make it happen, to have a baby.

AG: It's an empathy, really, for people who want a child so badly they'll do anything. When anything seems possible, your desire is so strong your own body becomes less important. That's a very real thing.

BNR: I have definitely known people like that in my life — not that extreme, but with that searing drive to conceive. Maybe it's a biological thing that develops as we get older. How did your own life inspire "Fifty Ways to Eat Your Lover"? Especially this line: "When he asks if you're going to write about him, push a corkscrew into his shin and chew what curls out."

AG: [Laughs] I always take my writing from different little bits of my life and my experience. I find for me, the most successful stories have come from some kernel of reality. Every writer has had or knows somebody who wants to be written about. There's always a story or two about that moment when you're sitting with someone or laying with someone or at a funeral with someone, and they start telling you their life story with the idea that you will create a beautiful novel about it.

BNR: Have you noticed that as a recurring thing, especially with dating?

AG: It comes up, yeah. It does come up. I find a little more luck in dating fellow artists; at least they're a little more subtle about it. [Laughs]

Everyone wants to be written about. Everyone wants to be known. It's a legacy thing, something that lives on.

BNR: Yeah. If you find out a song — maybe even a mean or angry song — is about you, it's still a little flattering.

AG: Absolutely! Every subject of a Taylor Swift song has it on repeat somewhere in their Spotify playlist.

BNR: You use really apt olfactory descriptions. Like, "The air felt cold and pure, like inside the case at a flower shop" and "stink like a pile of dead centipedes after rain." It's pretty awesome how your descriptions could potentially make sense to someone who can't smell since it brings a different set of sense into the equation. How do you feel that sense of smell specifically plays a role in your writing?

AG: Smell is important to me. As someone who's never smoked cigarettes, I have a pretty good sense of smell. I think that maybe when I'm writing about smell, sometimes I'm very deep in the scene and feeling it, really close to what I created. When it's real to me, it takes me to smell. I have a really good scent memory. I could probably pick out the smell of my first boyfriend's mother. Or the smell of the vacation Bible camp I went to as a kid.

It's an interesting sense to write about and to express in words. We don't have scratch-and-sniff books, so that's an additional challenge. Some particular smells are very based in place, very culture-heavy. I could describe creosote after the rain all day, but only people from Tucson or the area would know what that smells like. It's an interesting challenge that puts a story in a place.

BNR: I can't imagine how intense your books would be with scratch-and-sniff pages.

AG: [Laughs] Oh my god! That would be incredibly gross. I never thought about that.

BNR: How would you describe that vacation Bible camp memory?

AG: Vacation Bible school was a dusty smell. It smelled a little bit like dirty Elmer's glue and twine and the shells of M&Ms.

BNR: You have a gift for that. My mom doesn't have a sense of smell, and she always asked me and my sister, "No, describe the smell to me."

AG: That's cool. I've only met a couple people who don't have that. What's it called? Anosmia? It's an interesting thing. How's her sense of taste?

BNR: She obviously has nothing to compare it to but she does like really spicy food and things with strong tastes. So that's probably why.

AG: Yeah, yeah. A little dull there.

BNR: I don't think she realized she was giving us unintentional writing lessons as children.

AG: Exactly! That's really good.

BNR: So let's talk about the idea of people assimilating - - even if the idea is ridiculous, violent, or harmful. Like the townspeople in "Monument" when they destroy all the headstones in the cemetery or the couple that tear apart their physical bodies on "Date Night." How do you notice less gruesome examples of this in society or other social situations?

AG: I was interested in writing about the outer skin that we have and the facades that we have, the monuments we put up. Literal or figurative. I think the early draft of "Monument" had them chipping away at the stone and finding flesh underneath. I don't know why. It's taking this kind of crust that we built up or come to accept and finding what's underneath that.

"Date Night" is a meditation on dating and the feeling of having that protective piece of you that covers you heart and organs — your more vital things. The idea that we all go to restaurants and movies and hold hands and make out, but we don't really let the other person in in our most private moments. Except with "Date Night," the idea is: what if we do? Or try to, anyway. Try to rub everything off and see what happens.

BNR: Yeah. I'm sure you've seen the studies, too, that people laugh something like thirty times more if they're in the company of other people also laughing, versus if they were just alone. That idea is reflected in both those essays — creating a new norm as they're surrounded by people doing the same thing in an immediate environment.

AG: When I was writing that, I read about how you can improve your mood by laughing even if you're faking it. I remember for some reason needing to summon laughter. I was at my friend's hose, giving these big, booming, HAHAHAHAs. Probably sounded pretty creepy, while she was trying to make lunch. And it kinda worked? I don't know. [Laughs]

BNR: If nothing else, probably the goofiness and comfort helped.

AG: Right. That was real.

BNR: Let's talk about "The Swan as a Metaphor for Love" — but first, I wanna say I was bit by a swan when I was five. I don't know anyone else that has happened to.

AG: You got bit by a swan?

BNR: Yes, as a small child.

AG: I've heard of that happening. Because they're vicious!

BNR: They're pretty nasty. And huge. They're crap animals. [Laughs]

AG: That's the long and short of it. I love thinking about the swan being such a romantic figure, Tunnel of Love stuff — but how awful they are. It seemed a pretty apt metaphor for love.

BNR: Absolutely. How did you tease it out from that initial concept of swans being beautiful, love being beautiful but actually secretly awful in a lot of ways?

Part of it was telling myself that just because I'm writing about something that exits in reality, doesn't mean I need to sit there and research all the pieces. So I was letting loose and writing whatever about swans, kinda just making it up. I can't remember if I actually went back and fact-checked it or anything, but I was making up words at some point and guessing at what a swan eats. Tadpoles? I don't know, probably. [Laughs] So it was partly that metaphor that you picked up on and it being so weird, partly an exercise in pushing my own boundaries a little.

BNR: Overall, how do you feel about Gunshot — sorry, GUTSHOT — coming out? I keep thinking Gunshot, sorry about that.

AG: No! I keep writing Gunshot. It's a very hard letter. Because gunshot is the more common word. It's gonna be happening all the time — from me and from other people. It's OK. Gunshot is weird — it's possible that people have never said that word. Or seen it but maybe not thought about it. But anyway, I feel excited and nervous, which is how I feel when any book comes out. Except it's very important, a very real and vital piece for me. I'm really happy with it. I'm happy about the work I put into it and the work a lot of other people put into it. Excited, excited.

BNR: You're also working on a novel right now. Could you tell me a little about that?

AG: Yes. I will say it's historical fiction, and I may have written the last scene today. I'm not certain. I've been working on it since 2012, so it's been going for a while. It's set about 100 years ago. I'm going to be going through it and editing it for a while now, so it'll become better. I'm maybe wrapping up the first draft.

BNR: And you celebrated writing the final scene with a victory lap over to the CVS?

AG: [Laughs] Exactly. I visited the bathroom by the photo center and I bought myself some DayQuil. But in the bathroom, there was a trash can and in it was a pregnancy test someone had taken. You always have to look when you see a pregnancy test in the bathroom at CVS. It was negative.

BNR: Well, that's probably good. Unless you're the kind of woman who'd sew your partner's penis into your body.

AG: [Laughs] Oh yeah. It's probably good — I mean if you're crouched in the CVS bathroom using a pregnancy test.

BNR: We've all been there.

AG: [Laughs] Yeah.

April 22, 2015

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Gutshot: Stories 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Amelia gray is a talent