Things You Should Know: A Collection of Stories

Things You Should Know: A Collection of Stories

by A. M. Homes
     
 

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In this stunningly original collection, A. M. Homes writes with terrifying compassion about the things that matter most. Homes's distinctive narrative illuminates our dreams and desires, our memories and losses, and demonstrates how extraordinary the ordinary can be. With uncanny emotional accuracy, wit, and empathy, Homes takes us places we recognize but would rather…  See more details below

Overview

In this stunningly original collection, A. M. Homes writes with terrifying compassion about the things that matter most. Homes's distinctive narrative illuminates our dreams and desires, our memories and losses, and demonstrates how extraordinary the ordinary can be. With uncanny emotional accuracy, wit, and empathy, Homes takes us places we recognize but would rather not go alone.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Homess first collection since 1990s much-praised The Safety of Objects offers 11 sharply original portraits of domestic life: the distance between family members, the minor wars between friends and lovers. Written over the last decade, with several stories previously published in glossies and literary magazines, this volume confirms Homess reputation as an expert stylist and unique chronicler of suburban drama. Conception takes a strange turn in Georgica, as a woman recovering from an accident fixates on the golden boys of the beach and plots to make one of them the father of her child. The narrator of The Chinese Lesson finds his sympathy for his confused, homesick mother-in-law, Mrs. Ha, has alienated him from his wife, who has spent her life trying not to be Chinese. In the title piece, a fourth-grade teachers list of things you already should know but maybe are a little dumb, so you dont becomes an obsession for the narrator, who missed school the day it was supposedly handed out. A shape-shifting woman who visits the insouciant, anorexic girl of Raft in Water, Floating finds her own story in The Weather Outside Is Sunny and Bright. Not much happens in it"she goes to her job (architectural forensics ), visits her mother in a nursing home, takes a bath and casually exercises her powers"but the story feels full anyway, replete with a strange magic. Its precisely this sort of thing that makes Homes so good. (Sept. 6) Forecast: Homess reputation alone should guarantee strong sales. The planned July release of the film version of The Safety of Objects, starring Glenn Close and Dermot Mulroney, would have helped, but the release date has been pushed to spring 2003. Eight-city author tour. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Twelve years after her debut, The Safety of Objects, Homes once again unearths the dark side of domestic life in a handful of disturbing pieces, Here, relationships and emotions are scrutinized within abnormal situations. The stories present a series of uniquely memorable characters: a woman who spies on young couples making love and who tries a bizarre method of impregnation, a shape-shifter who can transmogrify into various animal and human forms, a young boy whose idyllic summer is jolted by an accident, an anxious man who wants desperately but futilely to enjoy life, and a former President of the United States afflicted with Alzheimer's. Homes's storytelling is hypnotic, allowing the reader a peek into the exotic thoughts and worlds of people we do not normally meet in literature. Despite the oddness of the stories, readers are still able to identify with the characters. Engaging and dynamic, Homes's writing is remarkably surreal. Recommended for all fiction collections. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/02.] Colleen Lougen, Mt. St. Mary Coll. Lib., Newburgh, NY Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A second collection from Homes (after The Safety of Objects, 1990, coming soon to a theater near you) is focused as usual on suburban angst and extreme behavior. This author's particular gifts are generally better displayed in novels, where her penchant for shock effects is tempered by a covert compassion that's usually only evident in the longer run. We glimpse it here in the more controlled stories: "The Chinese Lesson" is rich in geographic and social detail as it limns a shaky marriage between a couple uneasily transplanted to Larchmont from Manhattan (further frazzled by the presence-and worrying absences-of the wife's "slowly evaporating" mother). The same glimpse can be gotten in "The Former First Lady and the Football Star," a bleak but oddly tender imagining of what Nancy Reagan's life is like now with Alzheimer's-afflicted Ronnie. "Rockets Round the Moon" is initially even better: the 12-year-old narrator, shunted aside by his self-absorbed divorced parents, has taught himself "to be a person whom people like to have around." He clings to the seeming normalcy of his father's next-door neighbors until an out-of-the-blue accident dislocates them too and leads to a gory climax that Homes blows off in her most annoying manner. There are other irritants. Why muffle the impact of the "Do Not Disturb," a harrowing portrait of an enraged cancer victim, with unexplained but insistent links to a weaker story ("Please Remain Calm")? Why does a writer whose strength lies in depicting the weirdness of ordinary lives bother with the bad pseudo-folkloric magic of "Raft in Water, Floating" and "The Weather Outside Is Sunny and Bright"? "Georgica" (a woman masturbates while she watches couplesmake love on the beach, then collects the used condoms to inseminate herself) and "The Whiz Kids" (graphic gay sex, deliberately unpleasant to no apparent purpose) show Homes in her gross-out-the-squares mode. The title piece is intriguing but underdeveloped. Far from perfect but never dull, and the author impresses as always with her willingness to take risks. Author tour
Michael Cunningham
“A.M. Homes never plays it safe and it begins to look as if she can do almost anything.”
Andrea Barrett
Haunting, disturbing, often radiantly intense, these protean storieschange shape as if they are made of fire.
Robert Stone
“A. M. Homes is certainly among the most important young writers working now”

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780060520137
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
08/14/2003
Series:
Harper Perennial Series
Edition description:
First Perennial Edition
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
997,113
Product dimensions:
5.31(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.50(d)

What People are saying about this

Michael Cunningham
“A.M. Homes never plays it safe and it begins to look as if she can do almost anything.”
Andrea Barrett
Haunting, disturbing, often radiantly intense, these protean storieschange shape as if they are made of fire.
Robert Stone
“A. M. Homes is certainly among the most important young writers working now”

Meet the Author

A.M. Homes is the author of the novels The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers, and Jack, as well as the short-story collection The Safety of Objects and the artist's book Appendix A. Her fiction has been translated into eight languages, and she is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Her fiction and nonfiction appear in magazines such as The New Yorker and Artforum, among others, and she is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, Mirabella, Bomb, Blind Spot, and Story. She teaches in the writing programs at Columbia University and The New School and lives in New York City.

Brief Biography

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

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