Great review about work from A.M. Homes. Hoping she comes to town for her book tour.
This early collection of short stories published in 1990 is the third A.M. Homes’s books I’ve read. She’s a daring and provocative writer, who pushes the envelope until the reader cringes. And as I read these stories I was very aware that they were just the foreshadowing of her later “The End of Alice” and “Music for Torching.” .
She writes about a distorted surreal suburbia, where people are obsessed with sick fantasies. In one story she humanizes a Barbie doll, and the descriptions of the abuse of the doll and a young boy’s masturbatory experiences with it are chilling. In another story she describes a young boy in a coma. And in yet another, she introduces the vacant and disturbed suburban couple who she later develops in “Music for Torching.” The stories are short and seem not completely finished. Instead they look like little slices of life, or writing exercises as A.M. Homes developed her craft. She’s an uncomfortable writer to read. She rubs her readers’ faces in muck, forcing us to look directly in the sewer of human behavior. It’s a perverted and twisted journey into the American dream.
I should be ripping her work to shreds, warning people about staying away. I should have certainly stopped reading her work after I read her first book. And yet, there’s something about it that appeals to me as it jars me out of my complacency about the world around me. I therefore recommend her work for the adventurous, but if you’re looking for comfort, you won’t find it here.