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Threats

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3.02  ·  Rating details ·  2,211 ratings  ·  461 reviews
David's wife is dead. At least, he thinks she's dead. But he can't figure out what killed her or why she had to die, and his efforts to sort out what's happened have been interrupted by his discovery of a series of elaborate and escalating threats hidden in strange places around his home—one buried in the sugar bag, another carved into the side of his television. These dis ...more
Paperback, 278 pages
Published February 28th 2012 by FSG Originals
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Average rating 3.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,211 ratings  ·  461 reviews


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karen
Mar 16, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"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 itsel
...more
Jenn(ifer)
When I was a child of nine or maybe ten years old, an elderly man who lived on the end of our street gave me five dollars to rake up the leaves in his small fenced-in yard. I remember how excited I was by this bounty – FIVE WHOLE DOLLARS! I immediately walked over to the corner store and bought a bag of circus peanuts. Do you remember these? They are made of an orange marshmallow substance shaped to look like an over-sized peanut.

description

I took the bag to the playground across the street and I gleeful
...more
Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
Nov 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fiction
"EVERYTHING GAINS SIGNIFICANCE WHEN YOU PUT IT UP ON AN ALTAR" (274)

Amelia Gray's sentences are altars, propping up objects and moments and sensations. This tongue-tyingly beautiful novel—while threaded with a smooth, albeit mysterious, narrative and a small spot-lit bundle of characters—is truly the sum of thousands of such details, carefully and lovingly and wisely suffused with significance. Gray's writing implicates such a keenly perceptive set of eyes (and ears and nerve endings
...more
Mariel
Mar 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: You never needed the feather to fly, Dumbo
Recommended to Mariel by: Mike Puma, karen, s.pen, Josh
I get attached to things. I was once warmly attached to a cartoon animal I drew on my own arm until it made me too sad and I still couldn't bear to wash it off for days. The other day I came close to absolutely having to buy a stuffed rabbit toy and rubber alligator. If I had played with them a moment longer in that drug store I would have taken them home. I would have felt I had left something behind. My mind starts imparting onto them something out of myself. Names and personalities. My heart ...more
Trudi

I can dig weird. I can dig really weird and fucked up to boot. But it doesn't happen a lot. Weird usually only works for me if it's scary, head-trippy, and ultimately satisfying. I experienced none of that with Gray's Threats. The prose feels heavy and overwrought -- pretentious even -- weird for the sake of being weird. What is this story even about? A grieving husband? Sort of. His delusions? His mental illness? Is the odd behavior of everyone around him really happening, or is it a part of his psychosis? Is he even psychotic?

(
...more
Drew
Feb 28, 2012 rated it it was ok
So many good reviews of this book; I thought it was a safe bet for me, but I was wrong. Normally I trust my judgment w/r/t good and bad books, and if I hadn't read those glowing reviews, I may have said "it's a bad book" and let it go. But I trust plenty of other people's judgment, too, and their opinion is nearly unanimous and very different from mine, so I think I owe it to someone - maybe them, maybe myself - to try to determine exactly what it was that made Threats not work for me.

The easiest thing to pick
...more
s.penkevich
Feb 04, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Fresh fruit for rotting vegetables
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
I think the word ‘you’ has been linked with the more devastating sentences than any other in the English language
I recently became infatuated with the writings of Amelia Gray while reading her innovative first book, AM/PM. That slim, impressive volume contained the roots of a fresh new voice, ready to break through the pages and blossom. I watched her tend to her growing charm with the short story collection, Museum of the Weird, which glowed in near equal value. There I found an ethereal elegance in her formatio‘I
...more
Mike Puma
Feb 24, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2012

Okay. Every once in a while, someone will ask me: Puma, what do you look for in a woman? Immediately, I know two things: 1) they don’t know me very well, or they’d know that I don’t, and 2) they don’t know me very well. That, of itself, wouldn’t be particularly interesting to most people, but it does give me pause to wonder what it is that I do like in women.

It’s pretty simple really, what I like in women is the same combination of traits I like in men—that he or she be either smart and/or funny, i

...more
Craig
Feb 18, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction
I'm very tired of plotless, pretty prose. Thank you, McSweeney's, for killing narrative.

As some of the other reviewers have noted, the main character is completely frustrating in his passivity: what is behind his lack of memory? Better yet, what is up with everyone seeing the dead wife? Is this a ghost story or a mystery? Why mention the wife's secret life if it's never explored? Or the sister's death? Or the other, disconnected characters that have nothing to do with David's story of grief? ...more
Stephen M
Mar 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: All you goodreaders everywhere
Recommended to Stephen M by: Joshua Nomen-Mutatio
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. The
...more
Ian "Marvin" Graye
A Good Riddle My Love

Thirty-something David is at a loss to understand how and why his wife Franny has died.

He retreats into his home, which he has inherited from his parents, where he surrounds himself with paper, much of it containing words: newspapers, magazines, greeting cards, books, computer paper, cardboard boxes, tissue paper, Post-it notes, index cards and receipts.

Soon he discovers notes around the house that contain cryptic, veiled threats.

As David endeavours to put these frag
...more
Greg
Feb 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
He was by no means attracted to the girls, who, with their unmarked faces, shared more features with ambulatory fetuses than with women.

MFSO has written an excellent review of this book, you should read it.

Introductory aside: What an amazing fucking year for books this has been so far. This book. Snow Child, Blueprints for the Afterlife, Flame Alphabet and Hot Pink. Fucking young writers are kicking ass so far this year, and it's only the beginning of March.

I mentioned how I'd been on a mini-hiatus from writing reviews in my review for Hot Pink (by AdaPink.AlphabetAfterlife,Child,
...more
The Wee Hen
Jun 19, 2012 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I'm on page 33 and I just want to say WHAT IN THE HOLY CRAP IS GOING ON HERE? So I'm assuming this David person is in shock. Makes sense, apparently his wife just died and he sat on a step with her rotting body for three days. Ok, odd choice, but ok. What I don't quite understand is why the paramedics let him go when he's clearly in such a state of shock that he doesn't make any sense. He can't even put together a sentence that makes any sense. And what is up with these women from his dead wife' ...more
Nate D
Apr 12, 2012 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: YOUR FATE IS SEALED WITH GLUE
Recommended to Nate D by: Josh N-M, still leveling off his laundry-stacks
Shelves: read-in-2012
I WILL GATHER YOUR OLDEST FRIENDS AT MY HOME AND WE WILL HAVE A CONVERSATION. YOU WILL HEAR US TALKING BUT WHEN YOU COME INTO THE ROOM WE WILL STOP TALKING.


On the persistent unreality of loss, perhaps.

Isolate yourself, obsess over the details, they're all you have, they're all you will ever have even as they deteriorate into sopped shreds at the bottom of the basement stairs.

New young authors are writing some really good books these days. In its odd dread and smearing of the assura
...more
Daphne Atkeson
Jun 01, 2012 rated it it was ok
THIS is a perfect example of why literary fiction gets such a bad (and often well deserved) rap...and continues to decline in readership. This book is oh, so poetic, oh so clever, oh so fresh...with a totally unsatisfactory ending. The only good thing about it was that it was a quick read. Loony characters who may or may not be doing crazy things--we can't tell because of the undependable narrator, whose fate we don't give a crap about--and in the end nothing is resolved. Well, maybe it's resolv ...more
Lark Benobi
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I just reread Threats for the third time, just to see if I can figure out how Amelia Gray does it.

At times the experience of reading Threats reminds me of having a conversation with a schizophrenic person: the grammatical logic is there, intact, but the semantic sense unthreads by the end of each sentence. You know it's nonsense but still your mind grasps for meaning, and sometimes finds it. In other passages reading Threats was like looking at random patterns on a wall and finding f
...more
Jim
Feb 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The oldest valentine on record dates back to the early 15th century, but the practice of committing one’s amorous intentions to paper goes back at least another thousand years. The details are murky—much like the unsigned valentine I received in the third grade—but its origins are rooted in a heady mix of honor, passion and martyrdom.

While it’s somewhat sad that the valentine has turned into a tacky commodity sold by the dozen so that no classmate is excluded from cupid’s arrow, I st
...more
Rodney
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
At first glance one may think this is an ordinary type of story that you have seen before. Crack it open and right away you'll know that this is not the case. Threats flawlessly combines compassion and playfulness with the disturbing. The behavior of nearly every character in the book is the way out there kind of strange. A truly memorable read. I can't wait to get to more of Gray's work.
Eileen
Nov 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
Man was i fooled...fooled into believing I was about to embark on a enrapturing novel full of suspense and equal part paranoia. I feel like I deserve a t-shirt that says "I read this book and all I got was a massive migraine". I think the migraine is due to the fact that I bashed my head onto the table, wall, chair, well basically any hard surface that was around while I was reading this book.

First of all I agree with some of the points made by high reviewers/raters of this novel. YES, it had b
...more
xTx xTx
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2013
OMG. This fucking ruled. What it was about ruled. The way it unfolded ruled. How it was written ruled. This book was the skin of a unicorn, sliced off with chunks of fat and muscle still clinging to it, still pulsing. I want to have Amelia Gray's babys and then eat them, lovingly.
Chloe
Dec 20, 2012 rated it really liked it
I always find it worth remarking upon when a book I pick up completely at random complements whichever book I've just finished. So it was with Threats, which is so similar in theme and style to Viola di Grado's award-winning 70% Acrylic 30% Wool that I think a case could be made for plagiarism had the books not been published nearly simultaneously in different countries and written in different languages. I'm just going to have to chalk it up to circumstances similar to those that created the pairings of Ar ...more
Blair
Sometimes it happens that I read a book, and enjoy it, and maybe even - as was this case with this one - admire a lot of things about it, but when I come to the end, I just don't have anything much to say about it, and no desire to analyse or pick apart its meanings. That's what has happened with Threats, and it's interesting that I feel this way because it's a book that is full of meaning and definitely not a straightforward, simple read. It's about a man called David, whose wife Franny dies in odd, un ...more
Christopher
Mar 24, 2015 rated it liked it
My big beef with this book lies here: "Wet turds of snow landed at his feet." My problem with it is that it sacrifices a connection to the real world in favor of creating a mood. The word "turd" was in the author's brain on a checklist of words to include in her book to achieve the grimy, scummy, and turd-filled world of Threats. It was there before "snow" was there and then they were nonsensically connected. I know this because it is impossible to look at a snowflake and honestly associate it w ...more
Neil
May 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
He washed his hands upstairs, looking at the beauty products that still surrounded Franny’s side of the sink

After a loss, everyday objects change from meaningless items into reminders of loved ones. For David it seemed like he didn't allow himself to see this. He never really mourned Franny, and it created a vacuum he filled with coping skills.

I spent most of the book understanding everything in 2 parallel universes, in the first universe everything is happening as described. In
...more
Kennedy
Sep 17, 2012 rated it did not like it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kate
Feb 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: fans of Amelia Gray's short fiction
*sigh* I was really hoping this would be a book that I could give 5 stars to, but alas I cannot.

The book started off fantastically with minute details regarding David and Franny's life together in the style of AM/PM which I loved. I liked how Amelia took me down the dark path of grief insanity in a really unique fashion, showing that we all have the curse of mortality and there's nothing we can do, but stave it off for short periods of time.

Even as the threats started showing up and thin
...more
Richard  Thomas
Jan 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
THIS REVIEW ORIGINALLY RAN AT THE NERVOUS BREAKDOWN.

“I WILL CROSS-STITCH AN IMAGE OF YOUR FUTURE HOME BURNING. I WILL HANG THIS IMAGE OVER YOUR BED WHILE YOU SLEEP.”

The debut novel by Amelia Gray, entitled THREATS (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) is an unsettling and hypnotic story of loss, disintegration and the ways that love both builds and destroys us, anchors us, and alternately, lets us drift away. This is not conventional storytelling, but if you’ve read Gray’s work alr
...more
Beca
Apr 01, 2012 rated it did not like it
I hated this. Hated that i paid for it, hated that i wasted my time reading it. The language is beautiful, and as a meditation on loss this is quite effective. However, as a book, it was a complete failure. No story, no characterization, no direction, no answers.
Lori
May 04, 2012 rated it really liked it
Read 5/7/12 - 5/14/12
4 Stars - Strongly Recommended to everyone. Period.
Pgs: 278
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

My first experience with Amelia Gray's writing was listening to her read from her collection of flash fiction at the 2011 Brooklyn Book Festival. Her's was the last panel of the day - sharing the stage with Alan Heathcock and two male writers I had never heard of - and what a panel it was. She read from AM/PM (which I hadn't read but of which I had hea
...more
Jessica Jeffers
Jan 24, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
There's no other way for me to put this: this is a book that fucks with your head. David's wife has died and he has completely lost his grip on the real world. David begins receiving ominous threats in strange places and he is ever-distrusting of Detective Chico, who's been assigned to investigate the situation. There's not really a lot of meat or emotion here, and Gray is a little too experimental-cum-hipster for me to fully embrace but my goodness does she do a masterful job of pulling the aud ...more
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Amelia Gray is a writer living in Los Angeles, CA. She is the author of five books, most recently ISADORA. Her writing has appeared in The New Yorker and VICE.
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“You lose everything you love in the order in which you love it.” 13 likes
“It was hard to admit that those days were over, but it was hard to admit that any days were over, that the days themselves didn't stretch like pulled taffy and sag to the floor.” 10 likes
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