What started as a series of equal-parts terrifying and hysterical relationship-based epithets read in front of cheering crowds has transformed into a chilling, intimate must-read novel by skyrocketing experimental writer (and former Austinite) Amelia Gray.
A graduate of the Creative Writing Program at Texas State University and the former host of the immensely popular 5 Things reading series, Gray is already the author of two phenomenal books of short stories, AM/PM and Museum of the Weird. In her first full-length novel, THREATS, which hits bookstore shelves Tuesday, Gray proves every bit as formidable in her edgy, evocative prose.
Through her narrator, David, Gray documents the disjointed mind of an unstable widower tasked with assembling the shards of his life after his wife succumbs to a troubling, possibly preventable accident. In a spiraling series of revelations and interactions with the characters of his sleepy Ohio town, David finds it difficult to trust anyone he encounters, including his own departed wife, who leaves him the titular series of troubling messages.
Part murder mystery, part psychological fantasy, the novel presents a challenging exploration of the mental health and perceptions of those who have recently undergone severe trauma. Each chapter in the tight, efficient story is a beautifully worded piece of flash fiction that contributes a tiny sliver to the overall picture of the story's plot.
In the end, not all of the story's questions have been answered, which may bother some readers who prefer more tidy endings. But whether the fantastical characters of David's reality are literal or imagined, the overall effect of these never-before-seen characters are undeniable.
Even before its publication, THREATS appeared on several most-anticipated lists and received overwhelmingly positive reviews from Publisher's Weekly and Kirkus. Since moving to Los Angeles last year, Gray was named one of the L.A. Time's Faces to Watch in 2012, along with fellow writers Shalom Auslander (Hope: A Tragedy) and Todd Zuniga, host of the Texas Book Festival favorite, Literary Death Match.
While we may not see her often enough on the stages or in the coffee shops of Austin any longer, it's nice to know we can find her face and her contributions all over the literary map these days.