A very nice writeup of Amelia Gray’s novel:
The protagonist of Gray’s first novel, the mangled David, was once a dentist but lost his license after multiple malpractice lawsuits. He once worried over his father’s teeth, who told him, in return, “The dental profession is a farce of control.” This seems like as apt a description as any of Threats. The erratic characters all maintain their own farces: one washes and folds and rewashes and refolds clothing, her version of order; another lives in a garage filled with wasps and lets them sting her, her psychological control. And David, dear David, does whatever he can to feel proper after the (probable) loss of his wife, from wearing her gloves to sleeping in a nest of dental x-rays and miscellaneous papers.
Per the book description: “In the dead of winter, 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.” Part thriller, part love story, and part despair, the novel weaves a vaguely chronological story about the months, or maybe years, following Franny’s presumed death. Through David’s grief, Gray demonstrates her unique knack for writing both opaquely and concisely, dryly but with great emotional depth. This is not easy. The author’s surreal overtones work particularly well in this grieving story: I cannot believe anyone has captured the dizziness of devastation like this before.
Throughout Threats, David is never quite sure what is real. Neither are we. At one time, David and Franny were married. Franny is no longer there, and no one—not David, not the police, not Franny’s salon coworkers—knows why she has gone or how. It seems obvious that Franny died: David receives her ashes and we receive a scene in which Franny, covered in blood or berry juice, asks David to call the police. Instead: “David sat next to his wife for three days. They leaned against each other and created a powerful odor. In that way, it was like growing old together.”
“Some ghosts were mute, and other ghosts murmured to keep themselves company. Some had the power to throw chains against walls, but they were ghost chains and behaved differently from chains one might find wrapped in a coil at a dock or hardware store. There was sound without weight, because the ghosts rarely had the power to lift more than individual hairs on a pair of arms.”
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.
From Cautionary Notes and Amelia Gray’s novel THREATS.
A Cautionary Note courtesy of Amelia Gray and her novel THREATS
“Trying to describe experimental writing by linking certain forms to it, like stream-of-consciousness or changes in point of view, is like trying to describe a protest by noting that the protesters were carrying signs and shouting or walking arm-in-arm and singing.”
“They were in love! Carla wore her hair up and Andrew saw everything as a sign. They spent an entire afternoon sitting side by side in a coffee shop, taking more meaning than necessary from the world around them. A man wearing boxing gloves walked down the sidewalk in front of them and they took that to mean they would be together forever.”
-Amelia Gray, AM/PM