Review: Shotgun Gravy

Shotgun Gravy
Shotgun Gravy by Chuck Wendig

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’m going to open by telling you what “Shotgun Gravy” isn’t.

It isn’t subtle. The prose isn’t often lyrical or poetic. It isn’t high-minded literature in that stuffy, academic sense of the word. (Though I think its theme of common-sense tolerance is perhaps the highest virtue to which we can aspire.) It isn’t lengthy. It isn’t intended as an instruction manual for bullied kids who want to bring their revenge fantasies to life. (Well, I don’t think it is anyway…)

So then what is it?

I’ll tell you.

Chuck Wendig’s “Shotgun Gravy” is like a punch in the mouth from a beautiful woman; the kind of punch that makes you respect and then fall in love with her.

The novella opens with the protagonist, an ass-kicking young teenage girl, Atlanta Burns, coming across a couple school bullies antagonizing some poor kid for being a “wetback.” I won’t ruin it for you but let’s just say that for those who have never heard of such a thing, the beginning is likely to have you Googling “bear mace” when you’re done. Ouch.

The pedal is to the floor from that point on and it is an incredibly fun ride.

You may already be familiar with Wendig’s terribleminds.com website, wherein he offers copious amounts of advice on writing in a bluntly witty and verbally colorful fashion. “Shotgun Gravy” is rendered in a similar voice and tone and it works like a charm. Atlanta, herself a troubled teen with a recently acquired reputation for violence, is rendered not only as strong and smart but also vulnerable, unsure, and afraid. A character that could have easily been one-note is expertly fleshed out just enough to make her human and to make the reader want more, more, more.

Lucky for us, I understand Wendig is working on another Atlanta Burns book, entitled “Bait Dog.” I expect it will be nothing less than as excellent as its predecessor. “Shotgun Gravy” is a fun, brutal, cracked-mirror reflection of our society and the ugliness that is always just below the surface.

If you don’t go check this one out, you’ve only yourself to blame.

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