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Threats: A Novel Paperback – February 28, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


“Amelia Gray is a sharpshooter, precise and deadly. THREATS lures the reader with its poetic sensibilities and then subverts every expectation. Before long, there will be statues of Gray in various corners of the literary world.” ―Emma Straub, author of Other People We Married

“Reading Amelia Gray is like a pyramid of rocks being built on a cloud. That's to say, it's something fantastical, dreamlike, playful, and very dangerous. You will be amazed at what this writer can do.” ―Shane Jones, author of Light Boxes

“The first time I encountered Amelia Gray's fiction, it slugged me in the jaw. The second time too, and the third. Said jaw-slugging has ensued nearly every time I've read something of hers, except for when instead it whispered sad and surprising but undeniable truths about the difficulty of intimacy and sense in the wretched blastoscape of modern life. And then it made me a grilled cheese sandwich to prove that the world can be a kind place, and it waited until I had sated myself and wiped away the crumbs before slugging me in the jaw again.” ―Doug Dorst, author of The Surf Guru and Alive in Necropolis

From the Inside Flap

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 disturbing threats may be the best clues to his wife's death:


Detective Chico is also on the case, and is intent on asking David questions he doesn't know the answers to and introducing him to people who don't appear to have David's or his wife's best interests in mind. With no one to trust, David is forced to rely on his own memories and faculties―but they too are proving unreliable.

In THREATS, Amelia Gray builds a world that is bizarre yet familiar, violent yet tender. It is an electrifying story of love and loss that grabs you on the first page and never loosens its grip.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: FSG Originals; Original edition (February 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374533075
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374533076
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.8 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #402,735 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

AMELIA GRAY is the author of three books: AM/PM, Museum of the Weird (Ronald Sukenick/American Book Review Innovative Fiction Prize), THREATS (Finalist, PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction), and Gutshot (FSG). She lives in Los Angeles.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Traci on February 26, 2013
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.
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18 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Luan Gaines HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 28, 2012
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.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Chance on May 9, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Reading these other reviews, it seems that people were expecting a more formulaic kind of novel similar to Flynn's Gone Girl when they bought this. No insult to Flynn, but Amelia Gray does so much more with Threats. This novel is surreal, strange, and unlike anything else. It has more in common with Weird storytellers like Stephen Graham Jones, Laird Barron, and Jeremy Robert Johnson than Flynn. Her prose is uncommonly gorgeous, and while it does not have a traditional plot it more than makes up for it with originality and wit. I bought her first collection of short stories after finishing this and look forward to anything Gray will produce in the future.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By D. Alexander Ward on October 9, 2012
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.
Read more ›
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