My Writing

Friday, September 3, 2010

"AM/PM" by Amelia Gray

I liked this book. I was paging through it at a bookstore and found myself really enjoying it, and laughing, and saying "damn" when I'd get to the end of a story, so I bought it. The book contains 120 micro-stories or short shorts, whatever you want to call them, stories of less than a page. Nearly every story is, in my opinion, remarkably smart, very carefully made, very precise in its prose, often funny. The stories seemed emotional and philosophical, sad and joyful and wise. The book's been out for a while, so I'm probably the last person to discover this.

The stories vary widely, but a common thread seems to be an existential outlook on life manifested in either everyday events or creatively imagined scenarios. Some characters and scenarios recur throughout the collection. One of my favorite recurring scenarios involves two friends apparently trapped in a box, talking in the dark. Most characters are identified only by their names, but I felt Gray achieved an impressive depth and subtlety of characterization via the characters' actions, words, and thoughts. The stories seemed very exactingly written, and interested in emotions as much as ideas. They seemed like jokes, like aphorisms, like life.

It reminded me a little of Barthelme, if he were more personal, less flamboyantly erudite. It seems to be in the tradition of Russell Edson and Lydia Davis, fellow writers of concise wowers. This book impressed me a lot.

"Just because you made it warm doesn't make it yours: A lesson for felines.

Feline Posits: What if one makes it warm for a long time?

A Response: I will still put it on the towel rack, because it is still a towel.

Feline Posits: What if one conveys pride of ownership via claws?

A Response: Nothing is truly owned, supporting nothing is truly yours.

[...] Feline Posits: What is to become of us, then, and our loneliness?

A Response: Be blessed with the temporary nature of the towel, and of your body."

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