by A.M. Homes ‧ RELEASE DATE: Aug. 20, 1990
A first collection of ten competently written stories, by the author of the YA novel Sack (1989), that tries to shock with its intimations of pre-pubescent sexuality and its focus on suburban alienation. Scenes of supposed innocence and normality continually reveal their seaminess in Homes' tales. Knock on any Westchester door and you'll find sex, drugs, suicide, and murder lurking in the shadows. Children, in particular, masturbate a lot there: the fat girl of ""Chunky in Heat"" enjoys her sweaty, jiggling flesh as she strokes herself on the backyard chaise longue; the teen-aged Valium-popper of ""A Real Doll"" finds true masturbatory love with his sister's Barbie doll, until a headless Ken proves a more satisfying depository; and another girl discovers self-love in the hall linen closet, where she writes love letters to herself in ""Yours Truly."" Erol, the narrator of ""Looking for Johnny,"" is such a miserable kid that his kidnapper, a deranged man looking for an ideal son, returns him after a few days. In Homes' deliberately adolescent view of things, adults fare poorly, all victims of conformity and middle-aged despair. The affluent parents in ""Adults Alone,"" new to Westchester, sample crack for a few days while their kids are visiting grandma in Miami. One suburban dad is driven mad by a frenetic shopping mall in ""The Bullet Catcher""; another is totally disoriented by spending a weekday at home when his legal offices are threatened by a bomb--his rebelliousness expresses itself not through sex or drugs, but by his peeing in a senior partner's plants after hours (""Jim Train""). A mother who measures her marriage by her possessions (""Esther in the Night"") completes the upper-middle-class nightmare by asphyxiating her burdensome comatose son, who vegetates at home with the family. ""The I of It""--different from all the other pieces collected here but meant to disturb in its own way--finds an AIDS victim regretting his penis-centered life (""my best friend, my playmate from childhood, myself"") before leaping to his death. An inauspicious debut, limited by Homes' modest narrative skills and by her rather one-note song of what she considers The American Way.
Pub Date: Aug. 20, 1990
Page Count: -
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1990
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