blissery (blissery) wrote in bookish,

'surreal suburbia', and then some

Happy New Year everyone! I'm just passing by to repost a review. :) (I'm currently reading Richard Price's Clockers, which I bought after reading Freedomland. I really really really enjoyed Freedomland, the way it was written, it's energy, and now I think Clockers is just kick-ass. :) Next project: the Lord of the Rings trilogy.)

(Anyway, on to the review.)


The American suburbia has always been much maligned. Think Rick Moody’s The Ice Storm, think The Stepford Wives, think Desperate Housewives. In suburbia, everything is perfect, and everyone is lonely – because of, despite of.

A.M. Homes’ short story collection The Safety of Objects, first published in 1990, uncovers the bizarre in places where everything is supposed to follow the rules. In “Looking for Johnny”, a man, possibly crazed, kidnaps a young boy and later on tells him that he is not the right kid, he is bringing him back. The boy, who has been begging to be taken home, suddenly realizes the weight of this judgment and apologizes, asking his kidnapper: “What is wrong with me?”

At the beginning of “Esther in the Night”, a mother imagines a burglar breaking into her family’s home, imagines him rounding them up and noticing the “room there with the light on”. The mother imagines herself saying there is no one there, but the burglar will be persistent, and she’ll have to open the door and show him her son lying on the bed, hooked on tubes, dead but not dead. She imagines the burglar seeing this, and running away from their house, not wanting to take anything anymore.

In “Adults Alone”, Elaine is joyous after dropping off her two sons at her mother-in-law’s, but later on thinks, “Without the children, with nothing absolutely required of her, she is exhausted. She is more tired than she ever remembers being.”

I’ve never read a collection quite like it.

(The title of this entry is taken from the back cover of the 2001 paperback edition. The entire sentence reads: “Working in Kodacolor hues, Homes offers an uncanny picture of a surreal suburbia – outrageous and utterly believable.”)

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