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Flash fiction writer Amelia Gray to speak at ABR series

By ERICA RODRIGUEZ
Oct. 18, 2010 at 5:18 a.m.

Twenty-eight-year-old Amelia Gray visits UHV for American Book Review series.

One morning, I woke to discover I had given birth overnight. It was troubling to realize because I had felt no pain as I slept, did not remember the birth, and in fact had not even known I was pregnant. But there he was, a little baby boy, swaddled among cotton sheets, sticky with amniotic fluid and other various baby-goops. The child had pulled himself up to my breast in the night and was, at that moment, having breakfast. He looked up and smiled when I reached for him.

"Hello," I said.

I bundled my sheets and my mattress pad into a trash bag and set it by the door. I got into the shower with my new baby, because we were both covered in the material of his birth and were becoming cold. I soaped him up with my gentle face soap. He laughed and I laughed, because using face soap on an infant is funny. I toweled him off and wrapped him in a linen shirt.

On the walk to the store, I called my boyfriend, Chuck.

"I had a baby overnight," I said.

Chuck coughed. "I am not amenable to babies," he said.

I looked down at the baby. He was bundled up in the fine shirt and smiled as if he was aware of the quality of the shirt, and enjoyed it. "I am in love with this baby," I said, "and that's that."

At the grocery, I bought baby powder, diapers, two pacifiers and a box of chocolate. I walked us home, fit a diaper on the baby and ate a piece of chocolate. Chuck came over and said that perhaps he was amenable to babies after all, and we fell asleep together with the baby between us. The baby had not cried all day and neither had I.

The next morning, we woke to discover I had once again given birth, this time to a little girl. The babies were nestled together between us on the bed, and my spare sheets were ruined. I handed the babies off to Chuck and sent him to the shower. I bundled up the spare sheets and placed them by the other bag of sheets. Then, I got into the shower with Chuck. It was a nervous fit, with the two of us and the babies.

"These babies are so quiet," said Chuck. "I love them, too. But I hope you don't have another one overnight."

We all had a good laugh. The next morning, there was another baby. And another. And another. And another.

And that brings us to today.

If you goWho: Author Amelia Gray

When: Noon Thursday

Where: UHV Alcorn Auditorium in University West, 3007 N. Ben Wilson St.

Admission: Free

For more information: Call UHV at 361-580-4848.

Amelia Gray, a 28-year-old Austin-based author, was in a Dunkin' Doughnuts parking lot when she found a discarded positive pregnancy test and saw inspiration for a new story.

"It immediately got me thinking about what circumstances would leave someone throwing their positive pregnancy test in a parking lot of a Dunkin Doughnut in Beaumont, Texas," she said.

Inspiration can be overwhelming for Gray, who is Thursday's speaker at the University of Houston-Victoria's American Book Review reading series.

Gray is known to throw in a hearty dash of odd-ball imagination with the seemingly mundane and birth witty, humorous flash fiction pieces.

"There's weird in the ordinary, and there's ordinary in the weird," she said, describing her style.

Her writing is mostly brief - often no more than 2,000 words, which requires clear and punchy story lines.

"It becomes this deleting project, which is fun in my opinion," she said.

Gray's style is often described as screwy and at times, darkly humorous. Her odd-ball work chronicles everything from snake farmers she never met, to a man married to a paring knife.

Her second book, "Museum of the Weird," published in September by UHV's Fiction Collective Two, is a collection of short stories written in typical Gray style.

"There is heartbreak and love and sautéed tongues and Javelinas," she said.

Her first book, "AM/PM" was published by Featherproof Books last year.

When Gray is not being inspired she's, well, writing - for an online marketing company that is, but she still finds inspiration during numerous weekend road trips.

Gray believes the clipped, wacky writing could become the norm as people seek the whimsical narrative form to deal with short attention spans.

"It's starting to just feel right to read that," she said. "It's starting to feel like that's what a complex narrative is about."

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