The first book I read this year was Amelia Gray’s fantastic collection Gutshot.
Gutshot is a collection of short short stories, generally either gritty or strange, sometimes both.
There are 37 stories in this collection and they are almost all of uncommonly high quality. The stories I didn’t like where still good, it was just a matter of personal taste (sometimes you simply don’t like something and think it’s not good, here I didn’t like it but thought “This is quality, just not my cup of tea”).
Many stories though, were, in fact, some of the best I’ve read in a while. There is a couple who convince a call girl to climb into the vents in their home and crawl around, becoming, in effect, the heart of the house. A whale heart shows up in the house of a family that recently lost the mother. A couple attempt to concieve in a bloody and gruesome manner (almost reminiscent of Chuck Palahniuk’s notorious story Guts)
What struck me while reading the collection, apart from Amelia’s talent (which, I find I must point out, is amazing. I can’t believe I hadn’t heard of her work before.) is her gift for strong first sentences.
Here are a few examples og Amelia’s talent for first sentences.
It had been a memorable date after such a long line of failures.
William was a puker.
The poet brought his people to the bay and waved for them to quiet.
The townspeople met at the graveyard at the agreed-upon time.
He showed me a bottle and said he could use some company.
The young inventor created a device that could predict the future within one-tenth of a percent of accuracy.
I think it’s a whale’s heart.
The gods decided that, once a year, they would have a weeklong contest and allow the one person who felt the most grief over the loss of a loved one to have that loved one return.
The sun beats the shit out of a dirty road called Raton Pass where the closest thing to a pair of matching earrings is a guy named Carl who punches you in the head with his fist.
This page was once plant material, crushed and sluiced and pressed through a machine in a warehouse, the process overseen by a man plagued with a skin infection.
I strongly recommend Gutshot for all fans of short fiction, especially if you like it dark and if the quality of the writing itself matters to you.