karen's Reviews > Threats

Threats by Amelia Gray
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Jun 15, 12

Read from March 16 to 17, 2012


"we all go a little mad sometimes"

this book kicked my ass. i do not recommend reading it if you have any sort of sad feelings already at work inside of you. or if you are in any way mentally/emotionally compromised. this is not the kind of book you want to find yourself relating to, trust me.

on the purely intellectual level, this is a well-constructed piece of writing that lives in the shadows it creates for itself. it doles out its revelations slowly, like a cerebral detective story, folding back over itself to create dense layers that stick together and dampen so that some of the facts are lost and blurry, and some only survive as fragments, but enough exists to create a chilling story of several characters completely lost in their own loss.

on an emotional level, this book is like getting a novocaine shot in one part of your body, numbing you with a dangerous pleasure, all the while being stabbed repeatedly in a sector of yourself you can feel all too well.

i cared much less about the actual mystery than i did about the rawness of its grief, the richly detailed breakdown of reality that follows a loss. the sense of necessary retreat after a blistering sorrow that is both all-consumingly internalized and seemingly manifests itself to one's physical surroundings, where rot and decay and paranoia become an external force - depression like an entity, tainting everything.

she perfectly captures the passivity that can occur as a result of grief - retreating into an emotional coma where everything becomes optional and responsibilities just slough away. throw the garbage down the cellar stairs. let the ants climb over your pillow. let the food molder in the fridge. wander all over town in your bathrobe and slippers. get lost in the fog of daydream and hallucination and regret and the narrowing of the scope of future happiness:

david's mother fantasized about being able to turn doorknobs.

this is what it comes to, in the end.

the inability to communicate, the misunderstandings of a relationship, the failures to prevent something easily avoidable, the horror of hindsight.

the blanket man closed his eye. "i don't like the color of his jeans or the content of his character," he said. " i know this is sounding real 'kids these days,' but man, kids these days, you know? these guys don't even talk to their girlfriends anymore. they'll sit and send them text messages all damn day, but the instant this gorgeous girl walks in and alights next to him like a thick-waist bird of paradise, the guy's on the damn phone sending the text message. girl's all batting the phone outta his hand, 'come on, regis,' got that sweet little pout on. regis wants to know the score of some damn game that'll still be there when he's done laying hands on this girl. kids these days have no concept of jazz."

a minor incident in the book, but one that i could not forget, because of all of its implications of what we neglect every day and what we will live to regret in our old age.

the fetishizing of what we are left with.

hey. please wash and prep the vegetables before i get home. we're in a hurry. sorry. see you.

the things we destroy and never think twice about.

in the kitchen he ate a pear. it occurred to him that, though he had eaten hundreds of pears in the past, if not thousands, this pear was different from every single one he had ever eaten, wholly unique, and, in fact, as he ate it, he was opening parts of the pear that had never been experienced by anyone, human or animal. when his maxillary incisors pierced the skin, which first protected the fruit as it had against rain and sun and then yielded to the invasion, he was oxygenating particles that had never even been open to oxygen. the wet fruit and seeds had existed in darkness for their entire lives until he tore them out with his teeth.

none of these quotations even touch the main focus of the story, which is about a man finding threatening notes scattered throughout his home after the suspicious death of his wife. i really thought this was going to be similar to mr peanut, and there are some point of comparison, but this one did things to me emotionally that were unexpected and only half-resented.

and i never even saw it coming. although i know people who have liked her stuff in the past, i had always assumed she was twee and frivolous, completely judging by her cartoon-y covers and the flash-fictiony nature of am/pm. this book forces me to reconsider my earlier appraisal, and you all know how much i hate changing my ingrained opinions, no matter how unfairly made.

i will reread this. hopefully in a less vulnerable state.
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Comments (showing 1-41 of 41) (41 new)

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s.penkevich Oh, nice. Hope you enjoy!


karen as of page 35, i really do!


Megan This sounds like it has such an interesting plot! Can't wait to see a review.


Greg See! I told you that you should read her!


message 5: by Eh?Eh! (new) - added it

Eh?Eh! Wow...again, you've sold me on this book that I would never have picked up for myself. Those quotes are amazing!


karen and those aren't even the really good ones. greg and mfso and s.penkevich had already used some great ones, so i didn't


 ~Geektastic~ I'm not sure what I appreciate more, the review which is making me want to read this, or the warning that is making me wary of doing so. I put this on my TBR because the writing seems beautiful and expressive of something I haven't encountered in a book in a long time, but I think it will have to wait until I can handle it.


karen it is probably just me and my current emotional softness


Greg Her other books have just as beautiful and expressive writing but they aren't quite so darkly depressive.


karen they look so...silly and light.


message 11: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg Museum of the Weird is fairly dark, it borders sort of into the Bizarro world. AM/PM does have a certain personal zine / tweeness to it, but it's really really good.


message 12: by josey (new)

josey now that i see what it is about, it makes me want to read it. some books make me feel a litte down too, like "the hours." i really don't like to read a lot of depressing books. great review


Mariel Sounds like my kind of book.


karen oh, i think you would really like this, mariel


Paquita Maria Sanchez I had a similar fear that you did; that maybe she was some It Girl tweebag cutesy-poot with a little edge which had maybe been exaggerated. Then the reviews just kept rolling in, and they kept being well-written, awesome reviews, but they also made me more and more weary because it got harder and harder to discern how much of a role the influence of goodreads was having in perceptions of how good the book is. In short, I'm glad you went into it skeptically, and still ended up loving it. Also, the quotes you pulled are the most appealing to me of the ones I've read so far. Anyway, thanks! I think I will read it now.


karen i'm glad i listened to greg. for once.


message 17: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg Greg is wise, people should listen to him. He also thinks he picked the best quotes from this book to use in his review.


karen thief!


Paquita Maria Sanchez I didn't say they were better, I said they were more appealing [to me]! I should have clarified the 'to me' part. I just needed to hear someone say they didn't go into it expecting to like it so much. You, Greg, expected to like it, right? That doesn't mean you didn't, I just know I have a horrible habit of entering things that are built up in my head by others with a lot of skepticism because I am pig-headed to a hamstringing degree which often makes me avoid them simply out of fear of being the asshole who sounds like I am hating to hate (I hate those people), and COME ON! This book is goodreads' pageant princess right now! However, if I'm totally wrong and you did say something about that which I forgot to remember to not forget in the whirlwind of Threats reviews, I am sorry. I will go reread your review right now. Promise.


Paquita Maria Sanchez Greg wrote: "I was a little scared going into a novel by her. Her earlier works were so well done on the miniature scale that she put her stories into that I didn't know what would happen when she had to enlarge her canvas."

Okay, you had your reservations. I was wrong in that regard, and I am sorry.

Greg wrote: "Greg is wise, people should listen to him. He also thinks he picked the best quotes from this book to use in his review."

One quote, Greg? One?! Smart-ass.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio 5 stars, hell yeah.


message 22: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg Yeah, but it was an awesome amazing quote, wasn't it? Right? The best possible quote?


message 23: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg Hmmm, it actually isn't that great of a quote, but the language is very pretty.


karen wow - you change your mind frequently


message 25: by Greg (new) - rated it 4 stars

Greg So?


message 26: by James (last edited Mar 17, 2012 09:15PM) (new) - added it

James Oh great, look what kind of internal dialogue you started within me.

Inner Emotional Masochist: C'mon, you know we need it. We get off on the bad vibes. Feeling utterly debased and devastated and drained by a work of art is the greatest feeling in the world.
Inner Rationalist: I don't know. She said we shouldn't. We're only halfway through The Sunlight Dialogues and we've already taken inventory of all the ways we've disappointed our parents.
Inner Emotional Masochist: Oh, you know that just makes the fruit all the sweeter. Look, you've already searched the library database for it. You want it just as bad as I do. Now just scroll up there and click "place hold"...
Inner Rationalist: Well, I mean, our to-read list is already so long as it is, and --
Inner Depressive: What are you two bitching about? You're going to feel like shit anyway. Might as well get some reading done.
Inner Rationalist: :(


message 27: by karen (last edited Mar 18, 2012 06:46AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

karen holy moly! i caused this? no way.

if it helps at all, it is a really fast read. unlike sunlight dialogues


message 28: by Sandy (new)

Sandy Sounds like it might be a good book for a few laffs!


karen oh, yes - it is hilaaaarious.


message 30: by Elizabeth (new) - added it

Elizabeth I've been trying to find this book, Karen. The library doesn't have it, B&N brick and mortar doesn't have it, and B&N online only sells it through 3rd party vendors. I guess I'll have to cave to the vendors unless you have any ideas...Much appreciated if you do...


karen well, you can order it from your local barnes and noble if they don't have it in stock.

and actually - here - they have it on the website, new!

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/threa...

there's no charge to have it ordered into the store, even though it is cheaper online. but there are plenty! go get it!


message 32: by Elizabeth (new) - added it

Elizabeth Oops - Just checked - B&N has it for $9.99 for NOOK. Maybe I'll go for it that way! I have so many books to read. It may take a me a lifetime to get to this book. Is it really a STRONG over the top 5 star review from you? You don't seem to give out many 5 stars. Curious to get your feedback.
Thanks, Eliz


karen it is a solid 5, but not a five-plus. five-pluses are rare.


message 34: by Elizabeth (new) - added it

Elizabeth Thanks for your feedback, Karen. I agree, five-pluses are rare. It would be interesting to sit down sometime and try to come up with the books I've read to which I'd give five-pluses or more. There are so many ways to "rate" and "label" things. I'm not into that - I get the feeling that you aren't either...
I bet that most of my all time faves wouldn't be based on literary technique and lots of hoydy-toydy mumbo jumbo. My faves would come straight from my heart no matter how poorly or well written they were. Hmm...Food for thought...


message 35: by Mike (new)

Mike Sandy wrote: "Sounds like it might be a good book for a few laffs!"

"Uh-huh. Just as The Hours by Michael Cunningham was the feel good book of the year. KOFF


Michelle karen, I liked your review better than the book itself.


karen well, that's a start, anyway!


message 38: by Alex (new)

Alex Yo Karen! How convenient that you liked both this and Gone Girl. I'm interested in this because Flavorwire recommends it for "weird nerds," oh hai...but unlike you, I didn't love Gone Girl's ending. If I thought that was pretty good...how much effort should I put into reading this?


karen hhaha that's a great list!

this one is less...problematic than gone girl. that one seems to get a lot of people up in a tizzy. this one is more image-and-word-based than plot-based. it is more dreamlike, if that makes sense. gone girl is a straight-ahead thriller with twists and turns and emotional brutality. this one is softer and more sorrowful. more ambiguous. so it has less mass-market appeal, but it is probably a better "book" overall.


message 40: by Alex (new)

Alex Innnnteresting answer. Okay...thanks for your reply, I appreciate that. I'm gonna do what I usually do with books like this: wait and see if I'm still interested four months from now.


karen hahahah good policy.


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