If anything s going to save the characters in Amelia Gray s debut from their troubled romances, their social improprieties, or their hands turning into claws, it s a John Mayer concert tee In AM PM, impish humor and cutting insight are on full display Readers tour the lives ofcharacters acrossstories full of lizard tails, Schr dinger boxes, and volcano love June wakes up one morning covered in seeds Leonard falls in love with a chaise lounge Betty insists everything except flowers are a symbol of her love for her husband Andrew talks to his house in times of crisis Written every morning and night for two months, these brief vignettestowords recall Donald Barthelme in their whimsy and subtle yet powerful emotions An intermittent love story as seen through a darkly comic lens, AM PM mixes poetry and prose, humor and hubris to create a truly original work of fiction


10 thoughts on “AM/PM

  1. Steve Steve says:

    Examples from Lucifer s Lexicon of Book Review AdjectivesI decided to consult this new, now indispensable reference written, no doubt, with a nod to Ambrose Bierce for words I could use in a review of Amelia Gray s notable first book Her collection of stories, snippets really, was short but full of creativity, and a lot of adjectives apply Here are the ones I ll be using sometimes as antitheses along with Lucifer s definitions Awesome formerly, capable of producing awe now come to me Examples from Lucifer s Lexicon of Book Review AdjectivesI decided to consult this new, now indispensable reference written, no doubt, with a nod to Ambrose Bierce for words I could use in a review of Amelia Gray s notable first book Her collection of stories, snippets really, was short but full of creativity, and a lot of adjectives apply Here are the ones I ll be using sometimes as antitheses along with Lucifer s definitions Awesome formerly, capable of producing awe now come to mean far less due to grade inflation and overuse Claustrophobic had Haruki Murakami and Margaret Atwood ever produced a child, and that child wrote a Franz Kafka knock off about a shackled body and soul, this would be the top word on the list to describe it Clich d a description of work characterized by hackneyed expressions or concepts that the reviewer has recently stopped repeating and now considers tiresome Discerning in full agreement with the reviewer Labyrinthine containing one turn too many for the reviewer to follow Laugh out loud funny typically used to describe a very overt form of humor, often the kind we should be embarrassed by, like anything involving scrotums, painful falls, or stooges Masterful having a self perceived talent that the reviewer hopes to reinforce through recognition of the same, but legitimate, talent in others Metaphorical prone to a writing device whereby inherently boring topics or descriptions are jazzed up like wings drenched in hot sauce or, uh, what s an analogy for an analogy Nuanced adjective to use when encountering complexity that s probably insightful but the reviewer can only pretend to understand Outr an intelligent sounding word when the reviewer isn t sure whether something s weird for the sake of being weird or weird for a higher purpose Philosophical as Bierce himself said, this is a quality of many roads, leading from nowhere to nothing Poignant just about any emotion except joy, raised to the fourth power Purple as applied to prose label describing a writing style that in the eyes of some beholders should be attached to anything wordier than Hemingway and to other beholders that which applies only when a seemingly endless proliferation of modifiers enters injudiciously, gracelessly, and gratuitously Sappy prone to sweetness or sentimentalism to be used sparingly since to serious, literary writers this is the kiss of death Spare a self descriptive substitute for the word short , opposite in every way to interminably elongated and ponderous Trenchant sarcasm trained towards proper targets in contrast to sarcasm trained towards the reviewer s pet causes which would instead be described as uncouth, impertinent, or sociopathic Wise compared to synonyms smart and clever , this is often applied prejudicially to older writers or those with an owlish countenanceThough this spare bit of writing may be short on words, it s long on nuanced insight and pleasure Some label this work flash fiction Whatever it is, I think it s masterfully written never clich d, never sappy Her fragments of text were not typically LOL funny, but there were quite a few instances of knowing winks and subtle observational humor Here s one example 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.Her writing is often described as poetic, but unlike some of her literary peers, her prose poetry never crossed into the purple end of the spectrum She was also adept with her similes June was the kind of woman who not only talked to her cats, but consulted them seriously about world affairs and life changes Mr Pickles, she would say in that adorable voice women reserve for their cats and when they want a large favor performed Mr Pickles, what is your opinion of the recent World Bank shake up The cat would look up at her, thinking for one wild moment that the tendrils of hair around her face were lizard tails.And much of her writing could be called metaphorical She was discerning about what to include, never getting bogged down with philosophical issues in an academic sense , but still having plenty to say in her reflections One day, everyone stopped over thinking We started thinking just as much as we should, and not anythan necessary There were nomisunderstandings whatsoever Minor disagreements were forgotten, not turned into proof of larger things Trivial errors of speech or judgment were just as important as items on the breakfast menu you chose waffles and I chose eggs and it was a god damn miracle.Characters in one short piece would often show up in later pieces, not in a labyrinthine, nonlinear narrative, but because it fit their personalities Often her little slices of life had poignant aspects resonant and clear Others were trenchant, sometimes claustrophobic, or perhaps a little outr and harder to decipher Almost all make you think, though, which leads me to believe that Gray is very clever I might have said wise, but Lucifer advises against such usage for her youthful demographic I m putting this in the 4 category Not quite awesome awe inspiring since not every one of her entries spoke to me, but still awfully good Now I need to check back with Lucifer to get his take on awful I had originally thought to call this Steve s Book of, then thought The Cynic s Guide to for the anonymity, but finally settled on Lucifer s Lexicon for the alliteration and the closer correspondence to Bierce s immensely fun Devil s Dictionary


  2. Mike Puma Mike Puma says:

    4 stars, very reluctantly.IthinkI veletthisauthordown.Ask me again after I ve finished Threats A Novel How the hell did this happen How could I go from enjoying a book while reading it to almost total indifference now that I ve finished it not once, but twice, and parts of it eventhan twice Dunno Happens Sux.Could all those friends and people whose reviews I follow have been wrong I prefer not to believe that That s why I m content to think all blame rests with me Well, most of the 4 stars, very reluctantly.IthinkI veletthisauthordown.Ask me again after I ve finished Threats A Novel How the hell did this happen How could I go from enjoying a book while reading it to almost total indifference now that I ve finished it not once, but twice, and parts of it eventhan twice Dunno Happens Sux.Could all those friends and people whose reviews I follow have been wrong I prefer not to believe that That s why I m content to think all blame rests with me Well, most of the blame Perhaps, after Threats, I ll know.I failed the book I should have paid closer attention to the reviewers who told us these are stories I should have realized that phrases like flash fiction and prose poems were signs that I was approaching the outer edges of my comfort zone The writing is, at times, stunning, and the way some of these brief stories zing the reader off to incredible thought and considerations, is wonderful I have to say it again I liked reading this book But, now, I m left puzzling Do I care Here s what I d like I likepeople to read this book I think it deserves to be read But, don t think of it as a novel in stories I don t think it is And, don t think of it as a novel in poems, prose or otherwise Think of it as an opportunity, one that you make of what you will.


  3. s.penkevich s.penkevich says:

    Pressing on in the winter makessense,posits Amelia Gray,there s snow, and when you press on through the snow, you can feel it and sense the difficultyAM PM, the debut from Gray, was that precious relief from the dregs of winter This compact book, written in the style of flash fiction, features 120 pages of pure crystalline joy The ephemeral nature of these succinct peepholes into the various lives of Gray s creations serve as a writing prompt for the imagination, allowing the reaPressing on in the winter makessense,posits Amelia Gray,there s snow, and when you press on through the snow, you can feel it and sense the difficultyAM PM, the debut from Gray, was that precious relief from the dregs of winter This compact book, written in the style of flash fiction, features 120 pages of pure crystalline joy The ephemeral nature of these succinct peepholes into the various lives of Gray s creations serve as a writing prompt for the imagination, allowing the readers mind to spread forth coloring in the ambiguities and form the attachments to their lifeline Similar to the works of the wonderful Lydia Davis, you will often wonder how so much depth and meaning was hid in the tiny amount of type that resides humbly upon the page Gray possesses a potent talent of saying so much in so little, often denying anything concrete to delivering a sense of floating through the sweet haze of her words and ideas that dance weightlessly about your head Yet, these brief stills of life glow with poignancy as they deliver cutting insight and reflect on how it is the little things that matter in life, which, in a way, makes this book serves as a metaphor for itselfThis book is a symbol,she writes in the dedication, and throughout the book, she explores just how her cast of characters attach symbolic meaning to the tiny details of their everyday lives and love lives, despite how zany or mundane they may be These symbols come in all shapes and sizes, from a lovers overgrown hair, to a pivotal John Mayer concert tee, and then there is Betty who sees everything as a symbol of her and Simons love except flowers The theme of love winds through the pages, especially in regards to failed love, yet Gray manages to explore them with a delicate, bemused tact without ever falling into a sappy or sad sack pothole She does just the opposite, and these shorts of break ups, longings and heartache will bring a smile to your face with their quirky wry humor, and a smile to your brain with their perspicacity.One may feel the urge to dash through the pages, devouring them as small snacks, however, Gray preformsof a feat akin to prose poetry, and these flashes are best when sipped to allow the flavors to express themselves The unspoken really accrues meaning when given a chance to blossom, and, coupled with a surprisingly large number of re occurring characters for such a compact book, a cohesive effect begins to take the shape of a beautiful portrait of life that is muchthan the sum of it s parts.This offbeat book is a real treat, and I do hope Amelia Gray s fan base continues to grow, as she is quite deserving of high praises She manages to take an unconventional path without sacrificing content and preforms with superb dignity This struck me so profoundly that I immediately ordered her follow up, a collection of short stories in a similar style, Museum of the Weird I can t wait for further visits into her world or words This review is a symbol for my love of this book5 5Also, I highly recommend this review as well, it s the whole reason I read this book


  4. Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Joshua Nomen-Mutatio says:

    So many of the books I ve been reading lately are conjuring up storms in my head that coagulate into the word Inspiring I m feeling really inspired by everything I ve read in the last few months or so Inspired in the sense of getting really strong, revelatory feelings about the aesthetically and spiritually redemptive possibilities of fiction writing Magnetic Fields by Ron Loewinsohn everything by Matthew Sharpe, most recently Jamestown the flash fiction of Lydia Davis big obvious ones l So many of the books I ve been reading lately are conjuring up storms in my head that coagulate into the word Inspiring I m feeling really inspired by everything I ve read in the last few months or so Inspired in the sense of getting really strong, revelatory feelings about the aesthetically and spiritually redemptive possibilities of fiction writing Magnetic Fields by Ron Loewinsohn everything by Matthew Sharpe, most recently Jamestown the flash fiction of Lydia Davis big obvious ones like Blood Meridian and The Pale King Lance Oslen s 10 01 even the surprisingly impressive and inspiring Letters to Emma Bowlcut written by first time fiction attempter and well established indie musician demi god, Bill Callahan Steve Erickson s The Sea Came In At Midnight and Amelia Gray s AM PM, a sort of natural outgrowth in some ways from the pioneering flash fiction of the above mentioned Ms Davis.I wrote a thank you note to an author for the first time in my life and was thrilled to get a response I wrote down these two quotes among many quotable lines while reading AM PM Why does the rain make us feel so romantic and strange Maybe it s the fact that we are unnatural spectators of it, from inside our homes, and it is a reminder that we have the power to live our whole lives like this, if we choose It s not the smell of fertile ground kicked up by raindrops, or the slick leaves, or the way we must amplify our voices to be heard over this larger presence It s the power of the rooftop that makes us want to fuck under it She was the kind of girl who climbed the tallest tree and cried to be let down, but she was also the kind of girl who would scramble and jump down on her own as soon as someone went in for the ladder


  5. Madeleine Madeleine says:

    The functional division between morning and not morning is arbitrary and artificial because we are too conditioned to face the honesty of admitting otherwise The natural definition of the two is measured by daylight and darkness Which is why a book like this is best appreciated as 4 14 a.m bleeds its way toward dawn and the day s potential to become one thing creeps along to reach the other when you re either so hungover you can only view the world through the safety of metaphors that won t The functional division between morning and not morning is arbitrary and artificial because we are too conditioned to face the honesty of admitting otherwise The natural definition of the two is measured by daylight and darkness Which is why a book like this is best appreciated as 4 14 a.m bleeds its way toward dawn and the day s potential to become one thing creeps along to reach the other when you re either so hungover you can only view the world through the safety of metaphors that won t make sense in later lucidity or too consumed with your own mortality to move, you watch as sunlight and shadow wrestle their way across the battleground of your pillow s unoccupied half, the line between them moving like the minute hand that drains opportunity from the day before you realize that nothing will make tomorrow feel any different When she stretches upon completing the book she hadn t realized she d read in a sort of upright fetal position, she overextends her right thigh muscle and the distance between the initial pain and its excruciatingly slow march toward the exit will be how she remembers all 23 characters and their hundreds of stories when she finally limps back to bed


  6. Ian "Marvin" Graye Ian "Marvin" Graye says:

    PM 0There s no need for poetry, Andrew said I m just here for my chair Well sit down and let me wax lyrical.This book consists of 120 beautiful fragments wholes fragments of prose poetry prose, I don t know They re beautiful I love them Four stars Amelia Gray, my imaginary cousin, I want to read everything that you have written and ever will I want to take your last name and share it with you I want to wear a tee shirt with your image on it You are that good.Here is an example of wha PM 0There s no need for poetry, Andrew said I m just here for my chair Well sit down and let me wax lyrical.This book consists of 120 beautiful fragments wholes fragments of prose poetry prose, I don t know They re beautiful I love them Four stars Amelia Gray, my imaginary cousin, I want to read everything that you have written and ever will I want to take your last name and share it with you I want to wear a tee shirt with your image on it You are that good.Here is an example of what I mean, prose that could be re engineered as poetry, or vice versa, even if there is no need for poetry any Martha It makes me nervous.Emily reassuringly It s normal to be nervous.Martha Great, I m nervous and I m normal She started to cry There are noheroes anyOnly words And music.This book should be found everywhere, on every bedside table, but might remain hidden under the floorboards.Or both.AM 121This little haikuIs a symbol of my loveFor you and your book.PM 164Like every other person in Ian s life, FM Sushi, his wife, with whom he shared a bed, thought that Ian only ever read one currently reading book at a time It sat on the bedside table next to his pillow Right then it was something by Gene Wolfe But Ian had a secret One day, when FM Sushi was at work, he realised that one of the timber floorboards under his side of the bed was loose He got a screwdriver from his toolbox in the laundry and gently managed to lift the whole board intact without splitting it He shone a torch into the opening and tested its size with his fingers.He had been reading AM PM by Amelia Gray and, because it was a little book and he loved it, he wondered whether it would fit in his secret place under the bed It did He gently replaced the floorboard on his secret.Each day, when FM Sushi was at work, he levered open the floorboard and read one story in the book and put it back.Some things in your life are so important, you can t share them with anyone else


  7. Stephen M Stephen M says:

    So this is my third attempt at a review of this book and each time I get off on some tangent or lose myself in this or that idea But I have some review writing music on and I m confident that this will turn into something worth posting I was first introduced to Amelia Gray s work through her novel debut Threats and my experience with that book was a bit shaky Although, I ended up giving it four stars and a positive review at first, after it had stewed in my mind a bit, I fell a bit out of lov So this is my third attempt at a review of this book and each time I get off on some tangent or lose myself in this or that idea But I have some review writing music on and I m confident that this will turn into something worth posting I was first introduced to Amelia Gray s work through her novel debut Threats and my experience with that book was a bit shaky Although, I ended up giving it four stars and a positive review at first, after it had stewed in my mind a bit, I fell a bit out of love with the book I think this may have to do with the fact that what impressed me initially struck me as contrivance later The book insisted upon this dark and depressive tone that was constantly in your face with its weirdness, yet it failed to fully convince me of its reality The book fell short of its intentions This resulted in scenes of various oddities without much substance to support them The phrase weird for the sake of being weird has floated around on a couple reviews and threads of the novel.So I had largely pushed Ms Gray s writing aside for the time being and focused on other interests and projects That was until I found this reading that she gave of her books AM PM and Museum of the Weird Along with her readings was a talk dedicated towards the merits and practices of experimental writing What I found was not the dark brooding MFA type writer, as I had unfairly classified her as before, but instead a quirky, fun and genuine person that her earlier work gives evidence of within the equally off beat and delightful words of the flash fiction What I enjoyed the most about her talk besides the fact that she talks about aspirations to read Infinite Jest in a single sitting because novels should be read in one sitting and almost succeeding if not for needing to like, you know, eat and sleep was that she had a very open and honest attitude towards fiction and writing Lacking any pretensions, she works a day job as an online advertising writer, including a weekly column on celebrity homes and modeling Although writing under a penname, she is quite open about her experience as a conventional ad writer and even encourages that type of work for others aspiring to be writers She takes on a load of about 10,000 words per week, no mean feat, and talks in depth about how the rigorous schedule hones the basics of writing craft, essential to anyone who pursues experimental work.This dynamic between these two realms of writing, the conventional and the experimental is what makes Gray s work such a delight to read Although her novel is splintered into 100 flash fiction pieces, they are woven with a specific intricacy that forms a beautiful gestalt between them, each one riding upon the tone that is established previously as well as forming connections between the characters, which she keeps consistent throughout the stories She expresses her thoughts through a variety of different mediums of writing stream of consciousness, dialogue, description and second person musings on life Her conventionality is apparent in the themes and the character s feelings, quite down to earth and charming, but she presents them in fun and idiosyncratic ways The perfect example of this mixture comes through in a single paragraph page, placed within various vignettes of everyday encounters and stressesOne day, everyone stopped over thinking We started thinking just as much as we should, and not anythan necessary There were nomisunderstandings whatsoeverTrivial errors of speech or judgment were just as important as items on the breakfast menu you chose waffles and I chose eggs and it was a god damn miracleSimply beautiful.Then comes little bits of oddity and strangeness that because of the frank, open emotionality of flashes like the one previous, it enlivens the alternate strange and oblique flashes with a profound depthOlivia dreams that her body becomes pliable enough that she can stretch very thin and cover most of the rooms of the house Her body is so thin that the bones are clearly visible, and the veins stretch, and the blood hasdistance to travel and as a result, the edges of her body are very cold Reginald opens the front door, removes his shoes, and takes only one step before recoiling in horror at the chilly mass that is Olivia s body, stretched and waiting In her dreams, she controls every aspect of her lifeI found this flash to be so moving, I had to stop and let it all soak in for awhile It made me think of the desperation with which we often try to control our surroundings and how it pulls us apart in our desire to be the author of every event around us Maybe that s fairly understood to you from reading it, but this flash in particular broke up the style enough from the flashes before, that it through me off It made the impact of the story that muchmysterious and powerful Plus the simplicity of the writing was such a breath of fresh air from what I had been currently reading, Mr Pynchon, who takes upwards of a thousand words and a glut of scientific jargon to contrive a moment of profound depth, that Amelia Gray accomplishes with minimalist panache There s a continuing thread of two men stuck inside a pitch black box and they can t get out It s this type of quirky ways of expressing normal emotions claustrophobia and the entrapment of everyday life that gives the everyday struggle a new sheen And this is what I ve been trying to convey about her use of experimental writing in this review There was no limit to how she expressed herself, yet you are never left in confusing obscurity because she is quite conventional in what she expresses Through doing so, Amelia Gray has made a huge fan out of me I can t wait for her next artistic venture, and somewhat hope that it isn t necessarily in the stylistic direction of Threats.For now, I ll leave you with this bit of off beat beautyWhy does the rain make us feel so romantic and strange Maybe it s the fact that we are unnatural spectators of it, from inside our homes, and it is a reminder that we have the power to live our whole lives like this, if we choose It s not the smell of fertile ground kicked up by raindrops, or the slick leaves, or the way we must amplify our voices to be heard over this larger presence It s the power of the rooftop that makes us want to fuck under it


  8. Greg Greg says:

    Just because you made it warm doesn t make it yours A lesson for felines Hear that Mooncheese That s a rule for you This book looks like flash fiction, and that s a shame because I think it may turn off some people who would enjoy this book Rather it s just a bunch of short kind of interconnected little episodes from a recurring group of peoples lives From the banal to the outright absurd to I guess what would be harsh rules for cats followed by a cats argument for why they should have Just because you made it warm doesn t make it yours A lesson for felines Hear that Mooncheese That s a rule for you This book looks like flash fiction, and that s a shame because I think it may turn off some people who would enjoy this book Rather it s just a bunch of short kind of interconnected little episodes from a recurring group of peoples lives From the banal to the outright absurd to I guess what would be harsh rules for cats followed by a cats argument for why they should have ownership over something they have made warm with their body and cozy with their claws Like, Dear Everybody there is a fleeting beautiful heartbreaking feel to much of this book I d say that it almost borders on whimsical, but whimsy like flash fiction has too many bad connotations attached to it Or maybe I could describe this as a non punk Cometbus, in the way that these stories almost make you want to go out and get your heart broken just because it sounds so much better than anything that is happening in your life right now I really should go back and read this again, but take notes of who the characters are, who they appear with in stories, and if they consistently appear in the AM or the PM stories I have a feeling that there is an interesting structural thing going on that I didn t catch while reading it Or maybe there is nothing to the AM PM thing, just a way of breaking up one story from the other AM 107 One day, everyone stopped over thinking We started thinking just as much as we should, and not any than necessary There were nomisunderstandings whatsoever Minor disagreements were forgotten, not turned into proof of larger things Trivial errors of speech or judgment were just as important as items on the breakfast menu you chose waffles and I chose eggs and it was a goddamn miracle


  9. Jenn(ifer) Jenn(ifer) says:

    I loved this LOVED One day, everyone stopped over thinking We started thinking just as much as we should, and not anythan necessary There were nomisunderstandings whatsoeverTrivial errors of speech or judgment were just as important as items on the breakfast menu you chose waffles and I chose eggs and it was a god damn miracle Can that day be today Please Life would be so much simpler.


  10. Nate D Nate D says:

    Flash fiction, in general leaves me somewhat unmoved unless extraordinary acts of suggestion and economy are effected so as to generate a much larger world than can be contained on a single page I could treat these as poetry, instead, but I m also a terrible poetry reader So while some of these pieces do create such a key sense of greater story surrounding, many do not, coming offas exercises in textual economy Many of the stories could be extended by their interconnection, but that a Flash fiction, in general leaves me somewhat unmoved unless extraordinary acts of suggestion and economy are effected so as to generate a much larger world than can be contained on a single page I could treat these as poetry, instead, but I m also a terrible poetry reader So while some of these pieces do create such a key sense of greater story surrounding, many do not, coming offas exercises in textual economy Many of the stories could be extended by their interconnection, but that almost feels like an afterthought the characters remain props, even after repeated appearances, suggesting that they might actually be interchangeable, or for recurring roles to have been assigned only after composition Again, there are a few glittering counterexamples and pithy call backs, but for the most part these live or die alone, finely crafted fragments in search of a context