A collection that examine the absurdities of modern life.
In the title story of Homes’ (May We Be Forgiven, 2012, etc.) latest collection, a love affair is sparked between former friends when they are reunited at a genocide conference. The strangeness of this serves to illuminate the complex depths of their emotional states. It also creates opportunities for dark humor. As the conference begins, the leader poses the big question: “Why do Genocide(S) continue to happen?” And then “He goes on to thank their sponsors.” “A Prize for Every Player” carries on the theme of consumerism. It opens with a family competing “boys versus girls” in an elaborate version of Supermarket Sweep. After finding a human baby in an aisle, Tom—the father—launches into a long, nostalgic monologue about America. Throughout the book, dialogue is given tremendous weight and space. Characters speak in full paragraphs, and where there is self-awareness about that, it is quirky and fun. When shoppers overhear Tom, they convince him to run for president. Too often, however, such awareness is lacking. This is most glaringly the case in “The National Cage Bird Show,” a story told entirely through messages in a chat room for bird owners. Even when there is an actual narrator, Homes shies away from exposition, forcing her characters to say too much. Nonetheless, there are many true gems of conversation. “Her face is ruined," a mother says in “Hello Everybody.” It is the first thing she says upon seeing her child in the hospital after a grizzly car accident. "I’m calling Dr. Pecker…if there’s anyone he’ll come in off the golf course for, it’s me." " ‘Leave it,’ the daughter [begs]. ‘I’ll look like I’ve lived.’ "
Stories filled with dark wit in the tradition of Amy Hempel and Joy Williams.