Neutron Gun Reloaded: A Gerry Reith Reader
Publisher: Nine-Banded Books
Author: Gerry Reith; Introduction by Denis McBee
Release Date: August 2019
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4.5 x 7 | 160 pages
In 1984, in the small city of Sheridan Wyoming, Gerry Reith died at his writing desk of a self-inflicted gunshot to the head. He was 24.
The catalyst for Reith’s suicide may have been a ludicrous FBI inquiry into the purportedly subversive content of his prolific mail correspondence, or it may have been an acute passage of unrequited love. One story has it that Reith compiled a ledger to weigh the pros and cons of existence, ending the exercise with the fateful flip of a coin.
While the details of Reith’s suicide remain hazy and subject to apocryphal embellishment, the work he produced during his apogee as a writer for a raft of underground publications left an indelible, if underappreciated, mark. Cavorting among the motley throng of dadaists, libertarians, anarchists, situationists, nihilists, Xerox pamphleteers and anti-authoritarian outsiders who inhabited and defined the “marginals milieu” of the pre-Internet era, Reith churned out essays and criticism, poetry and prosody, broadsides and collages, short stories and metafictions, that invariably stood out. His best writing was marked by mordant wit and controlled experimentation, but the cumulative gravamen of his variegated literary and epistolary endeavors was to confront and interrogate the project of freedom in a universe governed by brute entropy.
Though Reith’s literary output spanned a range of literary forms, he is perhaps best remembered for his works of short and sharp-fanged allegorical fiction, many of which found their way into the pages of the first Neither/Nor Press edition of Neutron Gun, a posthumously published collection that presented Reith’s violent parables alongside the work of a few conspirators.
Opening with a slightly rearranged assemblage of Reith’s extant contributions to the original edition of Neutron Gun, the present volume appends these “canonical” texts with a curated selection of the young writer’s lesser-known stories, essays, criticism, and even poetry. Neutron Gun Reloaded is presented with a publisher’s preface and a new introduction by Gerry Reith’s friend and former publisher, Denis McBee.
“I have to get out, or die,” read the note. We don’t get to call it juvenilia.