The Safety of Objects: Stories

( 11 )

Overview

The breakthrough story collection that established A. M. Homes as one of the most daring writers of her generation
 
Originally published in 1990 to wide critical acclaim, this extraordinary first collection of stories by A. M. Homes confronts the real and the surreal on even terms to create a disturbing and sometimes hilarious vision of the American dream. Included here are "Adults Alone," in which a couple drops their kids off at ...

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The Safety of Objects: Stories

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Overview

The breakthrough story collection that established A. M. Homes as one of the most daring writers of her generation
 
Originally published in 1990 to wide critical acclaim, this extraordinary first collection of stories by A. M. Homes confronts the real and the surreal on even terms to create a disturbing and sometimes hilarious vision of the American dream. Included here are "Adults Alone," in which a couple drops their kids off at Grandma's and gives themselves over to ten days of Nintendo, porn videos, and crack; "A Real Doll," in which a girl's blond Barbie doll seduces her teenaged brother; and "Looking for Johnny," in which a kidnapped boy, having failed to meet his abductor's expectations, is returned home. These stories, by turns satirical, perverse, unsettling, and utterly believable, expose the dangers of ordinary life even as their characters stay hidden behind the disguises they have so carefully created.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
If Homes’s recent novel, All Shall Be Forgiven, was about as American as apple pie, this 1990 collection of stories (her first), is just as unsettlingly familiar and thoroughly deviant. With all of her characteristic wit and curdling humor, Homes tells the story of a boy’s very sexual relationship with his sister’s Barbie doll. “I’m dating Barbie,” it begins, “I’m practicing for the future.” The germ of Homes’s acclaimed 1999 novel Music for Torching can also be found here. In “Adults Alone,” Elaine and Paul celebrate a week away from their children with porn, video games, and crack. This is a book for people who like to snicker, to cringe, and to scrunch up their noses in satisfaction.

(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In these 10 stories of unstable suburbanites, a couple experiments with crack cocaine while their sons are away, a man loses self-definition upon finding his office unexpectedly closed, and a teenager becomes erotically attached to a demanding Barbie doll. ``Though occasionally given to straining for shocking effect, Homes has here demonstrated a quirky and original flair,'' said PW. (Nov.)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143122708
  • Publisher: Viking Penguin
  • Publication date: 1/29/2013
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 513,542
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

A. M. Homes

A. M. Homes is the author of the memoir The Mistress's Daughter and the novels This Book Will Save Your Life, Music for Torching, The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers, and Jack. She has published fiction and essays in the New Yorker, Granta, Harper's Magazine, McSweeney's, One Story, the New York Times, and Vanity Fair, where she is a contributing editor. She lives in New York City.

Biography

The book Homes is perhaps best known for is her novel The End of Alice -- chiefly because it caused such a stir.

The narrator, a middle-aged sex offender in prison for murdering a little girl, develops a correspondence with a college girl who's obsessed with a 12-year-old boy. The result was a compendium of behavior -- real and imagined -- that was largely so violent, sickening or "show-offy dirty," as the New York Times put it, that its prose and events were excerpt-resistant and left mainly to the brave and curious. The book spurred a flurry of protests and attempted bans.

In 1999, Homes followed up The End of Alice with Music for Torching, a novel of kink and circumstance in the suburbs of New York in which an unhappy couple sets fire to their own house, then moves in with neighbors whose seemingly perfect marriage reveals its own subterranean faults. A high school hostage situation that is part of the book's coda had coincidental parallels to the Columbine tragedy that same year. The New York Times had a typical response: "The fact is, I was at times appalled by the book, annoyed by it, angered by it. Its ending struck me as cynical and manipulative. But even so, I found myself rapt from beginning to end, fascinated by Homes's single-minded talent for provocation."

For many readers, summaries like this are a signal to run, run, run in the other direction. But first, consider that Homes's books are not just big Pandora's boxes -- they can be a funny Pandora's boxes. In the story "Real Doll," for example, collected in 1990's The Safety of Objects, a boy's -- er, relationship -- with a Barbie doll bears some humorous gibes ("I [Barbie] if she wanted something to drink. ‘Diet Coke,' she said. And I wondered why I'd asked.").

Homes's earlier work is also almost sweet by comparison. Her well-received debut novel Jack chronicled the struggles of a 15-year-old to cope with his parents' divorce and the revelation that his dad is gay; In a Country of Mothers deals with a middle-aged counselor's deepening relationship with her 19-year-old female client. Both books contain poignant explorations of identity.

In her second story collection Things You Should Know, Homes continued to develop her singular, eclectic voice. A biracial marriage suffers a rift created by an addled, deteriorating mother-in-law in "Chinese Lessons"; Nancy Reagan's current life is devilishly imagined in "The Former First Lady and the Football Hero"; a woman endeavors to inseminate herself with the leftovers from beach trysts she espies in "Georgica." As with Homes's previous works, the collection is a testament to the author's talents for portraying the depths of human pain and depravity with humor and unabashed honesty.

Good To Know

Homes is an adjunct assistant professor of creative writing at Columbia University.

Perhaps tired of the scrutiny that arose from The End of Alice, Homes often comes across as a difficult interview subject, flatly refusing to indulge (or even validate) the natural curiosity about any personal connection to her work. She dressed down an interviewer in The Barcelona Review in 1997 thusly: "I have no experience with ‘recovery.' Again, you're applying your own notions about abuse, recovery, personal narrative, to the work. These are not areas I work from, they are not relevant. ...You seem to have a recurring question or concern about how I assimilate what goes on in my stories into everyday life. I am a fiction writer, I work from my imagination, in response to things going on in the culture."

The Safety of Objects was adapted for film by director Rose Troche in 2001, with stars including Glenn Close and Dermot Mulroney.

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    1. Hometown:
      New York, New York
    1. Date of Birth:
      December 18, 1961
    2. Place of Birth:
      Washington, D.C.
    1. Education:
      B.A., Sarah Lawrence College, 1985; M.F.A., University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop

Table of Contents

Adults Alone 1

Looking for Johnny 23

Chunky in Heat 45

Jim Train 55

The Bullet Catcher 77

Yours Truly 101

Esther in the Night 111

Slumber Party 121

The I of It 141

A Real Doll 147

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

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(4)

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 6, 2001

    Brilliant, observant and thought provoking

    This is one of the best collection of short stories I have ever read. Having lived in the suburbs I can relate to all these stories. This is the second book by Ms. Homes that I have read after 'The End of Alice', and it was quite different. Very much enjoyed and highly recommend it.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 16, 2005

    absolute literature glory

    i read the boook front-2-back then saw the movie; as close to the novel as can be for such an inspirational/articulate author. if your interested in a book to honestly never put down because of the mental stimuli it contains, then this book is work reading! ~Elimeana

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 11, 2005

    My new favorite author

    I first read 'The Safety of Objects' a while ago and enjoyed it cover to cover. Each story was brilliantly written and completely relatable. After reading this book, i followed up on others writen and have enjoyed them all.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 8, 2014

    Morbid

    Great little morbid and dark tales. Highly recommend.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 21, 2013

    Ice ♚

    She dragged Deathheart in...

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2013

    Johan Brauer: OoC

    Let us not quarrel about who has the greater cybering ability. It's an odd subject, and one I find would only lead to disaster. Besides, who really wants to talk about this?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 31, 2013

    G

    H

    0 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 21, 2014

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 31, 2013

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2010

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 9, 2011

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