From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. 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.)
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“Amelia Gray’s Museum of the Weirdis a cabinet of curiosities—a talking armadillo, a serial killer named God, a woman who amputates her toes for dinner, a man married to a paring knife—this collection of stories is so good and funny and wondrous that I couldn’t look away from her dark and curious imagination.”
—Michael Kimball, author ofDear Everybody
“To say Amelia Gray belongs in the hilariously inventive hallows of Ann Quin and Rikki Ducornet would be to miss her light. This book is gleaming evidence of the author as a trophy case unto herself, wrought of magic equally surprising, wicked, giddy, and loaded with a megaton of Boom.”
—Blake Butler, author of Scorch Atlasand Ever
"The opening sentence of Amelia Gray’s Museum of the Weird—'One morning, I woke to discover I had given birth overnight'—could serve as a metaphor for the creation of a certain type of story. While many stories come into being through intense authorial diligence and cogitation, others spring into existence in an instant, discharging themselves onto the page almost by magic.
"Experienced writers know to approach these latter specimens with skepticism. Inspiration has a seductive power: it wants you to believe that its products are profound and important. Sometimes, miraculously, they are. I don’t know what kind of process Gray employed to write the 24 uncategorizable stories in her eccentric and intermittently arresting new collection, but they bear the signs of having been born overnight. They feel inspired, and embody all the weird energy that word implies, even as they struggle under its burdens.
"[The] best stories in Museum of the Weird register as leaps of faith, brave excursions into the realms of the unreal — and convince me that Gray may yet prove an important voice in experimental writing."--New York Times Book Review