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Museum of the Weird Paperback – September 7, 2010

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Museum of the Weird + AM/PM + Gutshot: Stories
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Editorial Reviews

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

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: Fiction Collective 2; 1st Edition edition (September 7, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1573661562
  • ISBN-13: 978-1573661560
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 1 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #356,296 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

AMELIA GRAY is the author of three books: AM/PM, Museum of the Weird (Ronald Sukenick/American Book Review Innovative Fiction Prize), THREATS (Finalist, PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction), and Gutshot (FSG). She lives in Los Angeles.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Andrew Schilling on April 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book has a large assortment of short stories, ranging in length from 1 to several pages, that are varied and wildly original. They will take turns entertaining you, humoring you, confusing you, and slightly disturbing you-sometimes all at once. Amelia Gray has a true knack for describing and narrating the mood of each scene, which sets her apart from most young authors in my opinion. She is a natural talent and refreshing in her style no doubt. Obviously I've become a fan of hers after reading this book...

I will be checking out her AM/PM book next and hopefully it's just as good and interesting. It's hard to find a book that will keep your interest and make an impression on your imagination, but this is one of those. Five stars for sure.
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Format: Paperback
Really mixed reviews on this book for me: first of all, the author is incredibly creative and imaginative. I can't imagine coming up with the stuff that she does. These stories were so darkly whimsical and entertaining; they really take you to a different place. The problem for me, though, is that the writing itself lacks a certain depth. Here I find someone just beginning to find her voice, and doing so well with content, but still needing to work on the form. After reading a few books from really great authors, and then moving to this one next, the writing was a little jarring at first, and I almost didn't continue with the book. It just feels a little rushed, a little elementary, and like she may be trying a bit too hard. But I'm glad that I did finish, because I enjoyed the stories themselves. Easy read (I finished in a day), so definitely worth it still, I would say.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mathew on April 9, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I normally don't rush through short-story collections, but I knocked this one out in three days. It has the amazing strangeness of George Saunders. I'm looking forward to "Threats."
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By gonzobrarian on August 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
Amelia Gray's Museum of the Weird is concisely that. This little compendium of curios doesn't mess around; nay, it's a sucker-punch of surreal hurled straight to the breadbasket. While some of the stories in this collection are a slow time-release of quirk into the bloodstream, others are a full-on mainline of weird cooked freshly from Gray's meth lab of imagination. But in a good way, I assure.

The great thing about this work is the quality, as a majority of the stories, each contained within just a few pages, can easily be novellas or even larger works in scope. And while the sentiment typically flows from the wellspring of psychological insecurity of her characters, Gray's talent shines from the reserved awkwardness in their behavior. A waiter serves an entrée of hair but it's a matter of for whom, not if it's eaten; the work required to maintain a modern snake farm of the highest professionalism; the un-reciprocated dedication to a bag of frozen tilapia or a paring knife; or even the uneasy barroom conversation between a penguin and armadillo. Gray makes it work, no matter how strange the situation and delivers feeling, regardless of how absurd, creepily gothic or awkwardly sweet.

The downside to the work is that it's too bloody short. There's a great spectrum of stories to sample, but they're over too quickly. Throw in a couple of Gray's intriguing writing exercises to fatten it out a bit and the reader will soon enough finish the book, noting not only the thoroughness of her weirdview but perhaps a hunger for something more. Museum of the Weird is a freakishly well-written book, ideal for those geared for a reread in order to fully savor.
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