Amdahl, Gary 1956-

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Amdahl, Gary 1956-


Born 1956, in MN.


Home—Redlands, CA.


Writer. Formerly staff writer and editor, ESRI Press.


Two Jerome Fellowships for playwriting at the Playwrights' Center in Minneapolis; Pushcart Prize, 2002, for essay "Narrow Road to the Deep North."


Disaster Response: GIS for Public Safety (nonfiction), ESRI Press (Redlands, CA), 2001.

(With Leslie Brody) A Motel of the Mind: Essays, Philos Press (Santa Rosa, CA), 2001.

Visigoth (short stories), Milkweed Editions (Minneapolis, MN), 2006.

Also author of a novella, I Am Death, or Bartleby the Mobster: A Story of Chicago. Contributor to Santa Monica Review, Quarterly, Fiction, Nation, and Gettysburg Review.


Gary Amdahl is a writer who focuses on "prose fiction, as serious and complex and exploratory as I can make it," as he stated in an interview for Author Trek. Amdahl also writes dramas and essays, but said the various genres "are like living things to me. I cannot, will not, choose" a favorite among them.

Amdahl's collection of short stories, Visigoth, features many tales of tough young men spinning out of control as they apprehensively approach the responsibilities of adulthood. The stories, many of them set in cold climates such as Alaska and Minnesota in the wintertime, veer "from laugh-out-loud funny to scenes of abrupt and irrevocable disaster," reported Donna Seaman in her Booklist review. As a writer, Amdahl "moves like lightning and carries a big stick in this rampaging collection," according to Seaman.

Violence is a common theme in these stories. The title piece opens with a hockey player remembering the day his teeth were knocked out. Another character is a wrestler who struggles against schizophrenia. Military violence is also explored in Amdahl's collection. Yet according to a Kirkus Reviews writer, the violence in these stories is "less a subject, though, than a symptom. At root, these are rages born of impotence," frustrated outbursts from men who have begun to realize how powerless they really are in an indifferent world. Amdahl expresses his characters' journeys with "precise, gorgeous language," added the writer. Visigoth also drew praise from Danielle Alexander, who, in the online site Small Spiral Notebook, described the collection as "a nuanced exploration of American masculinity … as well as a subtle commentary on the ways masculinity has been romanticized in American literature."



Booklist, April 1, 2006, Donna Seaman, review of Visigoth, p. 16.

Kirkus Reviews, March 1, 2006, review of Visigoth, p. 195.

Philadelphia Inquirer, June 21, 2006, Katie Haegele, review of Visigoth.


Author Trek, (January, 2006), interview with Gary Amdahl.

Small Spiral Notebook, (October 31, 2006), Danielle Alexander, review of Visigoth.