Stephen M's Reviews > Threats

Threats by Amelia Gray
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Mar 03, 12

bookshelves: i-dont-even, sleep-with-the-light-on
Recommended to Stephen M by: Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Recommended for: All you goodreaders everywhere
Read in March, 2012

Firsts: big thanks to Josh for keeping me hip and up to date on the new batches of fiction coming out. I can’t wait to read Boudinot and Marcus next.

This is quite the book; Amelia Gray is a master of detail. Such that in every small vignette—most chapters are no more than three pages—there is a lush diversity of compact images that portend way more than they initially seem. I found myself rereading and re-rereading over and over. This is a detective novel of metaphor and linguistic panache. There is a thick air of mystery swirling around every scene; this entire book is a swamp of strange images, confounding clues and brilliant prose that create this haunting tone, vibrating from every sentence.

I must make clear though, not everything sat well with me—merely from a matter a personal taste. I have found—through my limited exposure—that a lot of books, which I deem “MFA grad lit” follow a certain set of similar characteristics. I don’t mean to pigeon-hole this book but it’s worth noting, from having taken creative writing from two MFA students and having to read work by authors like Blake Butler, Brian Evenson, Elizabeth Graver and a handful of others. They all seem to be marked by indistinct characters, strange, oblique dialogue, disturbing scenes, heavy usage of metaphor and a heavy emphasis on tone. It is not necessarily a bad thing, and it is a relief to get away from “tradition” fiction, but it is unrelentingly bleak. I feel really depressed afterwards. Maybe that’s what good writing is supposed to do.

I will probably write more soon, I need to allow some time for the book to sink in.

Oh and you should read. Yes you. You would be sorely lacking without this book in your life.
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Comments (showing 1-9 of 9) (9 new)

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s.penkevich GREAT review! Ha, Josh has really spread the Gray love, I have this on deck for when I finish BSG. And hit me up when you get to Marcus, I'll read it with you. I was flipping through it the other day and beyond the fact that the book sounds awesome, the hardcover edition of it is far to nice to not own.


Stephen M Sounds good! I'll make sure to get a copy of Flame Alphabet. Unless you were thinking of Notable American Women?


message 3: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian Heidin[+]Fisch All good points, well made. This is why I haven't finished a novel yet.


Stephen M It's worth finishing. But if you're caught up with Recognitions right now, then Threats can wait.


message 5: by Ian (new) - added it

Ian Heidin[+]Fisch Sorry, I meant finished writing one.


s.penkevich Stephen M wrote: "Sounds good! I'll make sure to get a copy of Flame Alphabet. Unless you were thinking of Notable American Women?"

Flame Alphabet. I ended up picking up Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls per his recommendation instead once I realized the author is from my home state (don't know any michigan authors). I'll need some short fiction to break up Ulysses, but we should hit up Flame Alphabet together soon.


Stephen M I'd love to. I listened to a reading from Ben Marcus and I can't wait to read Flame Alphabet. I think I'm going to like it more than Threats, but that's hard to say.


Stephen M Ian wrote: "Sorry, I meant finished writing one."

Well, I've enjoyed your creative work. Have you gotten close to finishing one ever?


message 9: by Rayroy (last edited Apr 17, 2013 06:19PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Rayroy With all these young authors writting "MFA grad lit", that's bleak and depressing, the question becomes how much are they taking from thier own lives and how much is just made up, many authors after all come from privileged backgrounds, actually most do and maybe the reason that so many books are bleak, is out of the authors guilt or boredom from growing up upper middle class, and not so much life experience?


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