cover image Museum of the Weird

Museum of the Weird

Amelia Gray, Univ. of Alabama/FC2, $15.50 trade paper (176p) ISBN 978-1-57366-156-0

Cannibalism, serial killing, a snake farm, and medical oddities are among the topics covered in Gray's (AM/PM) award-winning second collection. Resisting conventional advice as to what should serve as legitimate fuel for fiction, Gray allows taboos and curiosities (including animals conversing in a bar) to hold court with viscerally affecting scenarios that rival Ripley's Believe-it-or-Not. A delicious taste for the absurd (a man who marries a bag of frozen tilapia; a woman who births a child per day over the course of several days) results in an accomplished take on the increasingly popular flash fiction form. Gray's 24 tales go well beyond the amuse-bouche, presenting eclectic personas with a macabre wit, challenging readers to suspend their disbelief, and mining deep emotional reserves beneath initially eye-catching material. What could be mistaken for sameness is instead a purposeful vision, relentless in its inquisitive march along the fringes of human solitude. A veteran of the small presses (having published stories in American Short Fiction, McSweeney's online, Guernica, and many others), Gray deserves greater recognition. (Sept.)