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Threats [Paperback]

Amelia Gray
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
Price: 8.39 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Product details

  • Paperback: 278 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux; Original edition (28 Feb 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374533075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374533076
  • Product Dimensions: 19 x 12.8 x 2.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 122,994 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Threats David, a retired dentist in an unnamed town in Ohio, is pretty sure his wife, Franny, is dead. But he can't quite figure out what killed her or why she had to die. Disoriented by grief, David struggles to unravel these mysteries--which become increasingly baffling when he starts finding a series of elaborate and escalating threats hidden around his home. Full description

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback
THIS REVIEW WAS ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED 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 already (Museum of the Weird and AM/PM) then this will come as no surprise. To call this a detective story would be limiting. You have to jump in with both feet into the freezing waters, no easing a toe beneath the surface to see if the water is indeed water, to see if everything is safe. Nothing is safe, or reliable, and often others don't have our best interests at heart.

David and Franny are not your typical couple. Franny is a large presence, a woman who does her own thing, often keeping secrets from her husband, wandering behind their house into the woods on a regular basis. David is a former dentist who has slowly fractured in the wake of his family's demise and the loss of his practice. The domestic life seems normal on the surface--reading the newspaper, filling out the crossword puzzles--but from the beginning, Franny has had to take care of David, accustomed to his wandering mind:

"FRANNY had never faulted him his confusions. Once, a group of squabbling jays stopped them on a walk. Two of the birds were circling each other, ducking and weaving, thrusting beak to wing, falling back. The group around that central pair collectively made a noise like rushing water. They spread their blue wings. It looked like someone had dropped a scarf on the ground.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.1 out of 5 stars  36 reviews
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Read it for the writing, not the plot -- because there is none 27 Feb 2013
By Traci - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I see lots of 4- and 5-star reviews, so I feel compelled to post a review for readers like me, who truly appreciate great writing, but still like something resembling traditional plot structure along with beautifully crafted prose.

IF you decide to read this book, hooked, like me, by the references to a mysterious and surreal story, do yourself a favor and get into this mindset from the very start: you're reading it for the sake of reading some truly lovely and interesting writing, but DO NOT expect the author to give you anything even remotely like a plot and, for the love of Mike, don't keep reading in the stubborn belief that, eventually, surely, the author will give you a few crumbs of clarity, a little bit of explanation, SOMETHING that will deliver you from the hours of suspenseful reading.

Because you're going to be left unsatisfied.

If, on the other hand, you relish the opportunity to wallow for hour upon lost hour in confusion deepening into consternation and finally crystallizing into infuriated, unreleased and unreleasable frustration, this book is for you!

I need an aspirin. And a nap.
17 of 24 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars "The human soul longs for comfort in times of grief." 28 Feb 2012
By Luan Gaines - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"The human soul longs for comfort in times of grief."

Not so much mystery as fractured journey through loss and emotional disintegration, Gray's novel is a pastiche of impressions, from the day-to-day ruminations of former dentist, David, on what may or may not have happened to his wife, Franny, and David's encounters with the world outside his home. Living in a small Ohio town, David no longer practices his profession, hiding from the world in a dilapidated house filled with the detritus of other lives, the place more unlivable by the day as the environment reflects the wretched state of David's mind. The cause of Franny's demise is in question as the origin of a series of threatening notes David finds hidden in unlikely places, though only two people are potential sources for either. Aside from a detective, a regression therapist whose office is in David's wasp-infested garage and the spontaneous visits of one of Franny's coworkers, the landscape is small, a withering confusion of peripheral characters and events.

Without direction, the novel is a collection of short chapters, each indicating another phase of David's memory or ideation, the only real substance to be found in the honey-combed meanderings of a deeply unsympathetic character, the author describing in agonizing detail the filth and squalor of his environment. Aside from the occasional reality-based character, there is little to like in this story, where years of debris lurk behind a basement door, ants march in formation along the pillow of a protagonist burrowing toward sleep under his wife's coat and layers of dental records, Franny's ashes are silent testimony and any excursion outdoors is a welcome relief from the nightmare evolving on the pages. A portrait of grief, confusion and mental fragmentation is filled with minute horrors, an ugly little tale bereft of redemption. Luan Gaines/2012.
8 of 11 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Waste of reading time 10 Mar 2013
By Danica St. Como - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I never wrote a bad review before -- if I don't care for a book, I don't review it. I bought Threats after reading news articles regarding this award-winning author and her "must read" breakout novel. I can honestly say that I've never been more disappointed. If I handed such a manuscript to any of my editors, I would have been slapped down, hard and fast. It's a story with no story, no rhyme or reason, repetitive "chapters" of just a few pages each, and just generally poor writing. It would have been nice if the story actually, eventually, reached an honest conclusion. I was annoyed enough to delete the book from my Kindle Fire, because I couldn't physically toss it in the trash. My reading time is precious to me, so I doubt I'll be choosing anything else by Ms. Gray.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing and familiar 17 April 2013
By Finny Q - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This novel has beautiful language and uses demented magical realism to depict grief and mental illness. Still it feels a bit unresolved.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and dark but often confusing 9 Oct 2012
By D. Alexander Ward - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Look, here's the thing. This book is not for everyone. The short of it is that if you are not hooked on the traditional approach to plot, if you like your prose dreamy and strange, if you do not require or desire an ending that addresses or explains the major conflict... then you should check this one out.
That said, I did love the meat of this book. The concept is fantastic and the beginning sucked me in. Her writing is flowing and beautiful and there runs through this book an undercurrent of despair and unease which really does justice to the mental state of the main character as, in his grief, he descends into an ever darkening paranoia. There are gems of imagery and concept in this book that are heartbreaking and that I will never forget. To cite a few:

+ When comparing his profession to his wife's she roars with laughter. It is the only time she ever laughs in such a way. "From then on, he made a small special effort to compare his old profession to hers. It was so good to see her laugh that he didn't mind. Sometimes she would lean over and hold his hand or even kiss him between peals of laughter. He saved the comparison for special occasions, such as their anniversary."

+ "One cold evening, the two of them walked to a church down the hill and received the sign of the cross on their foreheads with ashes. She scrubbed hers off the next morning before work, but David could feel his own mark as if it was still a flame. He left it on for days, until it smudged and buried itself in the individual pores on his forehead, sinking grease in the furrows between his eyes, giving him the brindled pallor of a man carved from stone."

+ "The wasps were chaining themselves together to form a necklace around Shelly's neck."

+ And, of course, the threats themselves. "TRY TO KISS ME. SEE WHAT HAPPENS TO YOUR LIPS."

However, as it continued, I began to feel like I was in a fog and just as confused about what was going on and what was real and what was not real as the book's protagonist, David. If this kind of theater of pain, this kind of immersive experience is what Gray was after, then it worked. But for me, I guess I am just too much of a traditionalist. The plot largely disintegrated and the ending provided no insight or answers to the mystery. However, while I did not LOVE this book as I had hoped to, as a writer I do feel like it was important for me to have read it.
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