Composing the Decomposed: A Review of Amelia Gray’s Threats
by Amelia Gray
FSG Originals, February 2012
288 pages / $14 Buy from Amazon
You’re in someone else’s body but you’re not really in someone else’s body, you’re in your own body, lying next to someone else’s body. “An embarrassment of childhood odor” – is it coming from your body? – steams around you, and you may or may not be wearing a fireman’s suit. This is what it feels like when Franny dies.
Franny: a large woman who wears five layers of lipstick and “smells like stones.” Franny: your wife. How she died, although you were there with her when she did, remains a mystery, even to you. A mystery: this is what it feels like to live.
This is also what it feels like to read Amelia Gray’s debut novel, Threats, out from Farrar, Straus and Giroux last month. To read it is to succumb to the emotional torpor and physical disorientation that is life after the death of a loved one. This means: a fair amount of hallucination, an undertone of deep sadness, intermittent boredom, and shots of curious paranoia. This means: laughing out loud and worrying that you shouldn’t be laughing because, hello, someone died and life is sad. This means: being as confused as David (our numb hero) is when he receives the “threats” the book is named for, finding a terrifying note in the crack behind the mirror, not worrying about what it means, or else worrying a lot, wondering who the hell has left it for you, who might be out to get you, and if Franny might be – tragically, for that would mean she’s left you – still alive.
April 13th, 2012 / 12:00 pm