Days of Awe
|Author:||A. M. Homes|
A.M.Homes is an acerbic and confident writer. A sharp stylist, her award-winning novel May We Be Forgiven (2012) remains memorable for its dark humour and shocking clarity. Homes has said of her writing: “What I'm doing, which sometimes makes people uncomfortable, is saying the things we don't want to say out loud." In her latest short story collection, Days of Awe, she holds nothing back in damning uber-wealthy American society, and the emotional and intellectual bankruptcy of contemporary life is played out through the characters across the stories. No one is exempt from Homes’s razor-sharp knife, a knife with tearing teeth. In these LA-set tales the extreme is the norm - therapy, plastic surgery (for dogs as well as humans), ever-so-perfect apartments where not-so-perfect lives play out, boredom and disappointment dressed up as gossip and intrigue, superficiality with a capital S - while the real issues, problems and heartaches are cordoned off, ignored, or laughed at. The characters, like players in a grand soap opera, are absurd in their normality - some stories become almost surreal - in their complete conviction that what they do is right even when it is obviously immoral or obscene. A.M. Homes captures these absurdities with witty dialogue and sharp observation. In 'Brother on Sunday' the competitive sibling scenario is played out to brilliant effect, with tight dialogue and sharp satire. In 'The National Caged Bird Show', all set within an online chat room about parakeets, the conversations going backwards and forwards with the usual interjections and exclamations, two of the seven attendees reveal traumatic experiences - a young girl is abused and a soldier reveals his disturbing incidents - while the others chat about feed, bird depression and health concerns and the habits of their beloved keets. Homes writes from the perspective of the old, the young, and the middle-aged, from the egotistical, the confident, the insecure, the oblivious and the damaged, showing how each is tangled up in their own lies, fantasies and obsessions. The stories make you laugh, despair and squirm, and will leave you observing society with just a little more clarity. They provide a critique of society that isn’t shy and isn’t afraid to be both absurd and truthful.
"With dark humor and sharp dialogue, Homes plumbs the depths of everyday American anxieties." --Time
A razor-sharp story collection from a writer who is always "furiously good" (Zadie Smith, bestselling author of Swing Time).
With her signature humor and compassion, A.M. Homes exposes the heart of an uneasy America in her new collection - exploring our attachments to each other through characters who aren't quite who they hoped to become, though there is no one else they can be.
In "A Prize for Every Player," a man is nominated to run for president by the customers of a big box store, while he and his family do their weekly shopping. At a conference on genocide(s) in the title story, old friends rediscover themselves and one another - finding spiritual and physical comfort in ancient traditions. And in "Hello Everybody" and "She Got Away," Homes revisits a Los Angeles family obsessed with the surfaces and frightened of what lives below.
In the nearly three decades since her seminal debut collection The Safety of Objects, Homes has been celebrated by readers and critics alike as one of our boldest and most original writers, acclaimed for her psychological accuracy and "satire so close to the truth it's terrifying" (Ali Smith). Her first book since the Women's Prize-winning May We Be Forgiven, Days of Awe is a major new addition to her body of visionary, fearless, outrageously funny work.