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Music for Torching

Homes, A. M.

3,178 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 068816711X / ISBN 13: 9780688167110
Published by Morrow, New York, 1999
Condition: As New Hardcover
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As New/As New; an unread copy. First Edition. Signed by Author. Latest novel by controversial author, on conflicted family life. Bookseller Inventory # 90029

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Bibliographic Details

Title: Music for Torching

Publisher: Morrow, New York

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Cloth

Book Condition:As New

Dust Jacket Condition: As New

Signed: Signed by Author(s)

Edition: First Edition, SIGNED By the Authors

About this title

Synopsis:

In Music for Torching, the controversial author of The End of Alice lays bare the foundations of marriage and family life at the end of the century. Flash-frozen in the anxious culture of a suburban subdivision, Paul and Elaine (the couple first featured in Homes's collection of stories The Safety of Objects) have two boys and a beautiful home, yet they find themselves thoroughly inexplicably stuck. Obsessed with "making things good again," they spin the quiet terrors of family life into fantastical frenzy that careens out of control, doing and saying all the things we dare not, throwing into full relief the chasm between our public and private selves.

From a strange and hilarious encounter on the floor of the pantry with a Stepford-wife neighbor, to an ill-concieved plan for a tattoo, to a sexy town cop who shows up at every inopportuune moment, to house cleaning team in space suits, to a mistress calling on the cell phone, to a hostage situation at the school, Homes creates characters so outrageously flawed and deeply human that they are entirely believable. With Music For Torching, A.M. Homes brings her unnerving emotional intensity to the heart of America, creating a new and dangerous territory that is distinctly her own.

Review:

As Quentin Crisp used to say, "Don't keep up with the Joneses! Drag them down to your level!" This could be the motto of the suburbanites in A.M. Homes's fourth novel, Music for Torching. Homes has a subtle eye and ear for suburban reality, but beware: she is no mere satirist of what James Joyce called the "muddle crass." Behind each neat, bright lawn, vile lives writhe in darkness. On the surface, Paul and Elaine are conventionally competitive middle-aged, middle-class people with banal yearnings for French doors and a new deck. They have two strapping boys. Their neighbors Pat and George are prodigies of efficient family life. But alone with Elaine, Pat drops the Stepford Wife mask and stages loveless orgies atop the throbbing washer, amid the Downy and Fantastik and Bon Ami. Meanwhile, Paul beds a local wife and a sinister mistress. The nice old man down the street downloads Internet child porn. Local kids join the Boy Scouts and bite off teachers' fingers. It's all about lurid misery and false fronts: a minor character is named Claire Roth, surely alluding to the bitter relationship in Claire Bloom's Leaving a Doll's House and Philip Roth's I Married a Communist.

Paul and Elaine first popped up in Homes's collection The Safety of Objects, as a couple having the happiest night of their lives smoking crack while the kids are away. Their happiest night here is when they tip the barbecue and burn their house halfway down. The story proceeds with a nightmare zombie logic from there, with a funny-scary ironic tone. "Paul notices that the color of her eye shadow is Fiction, and her lipstick is called Sheer Fraud.... 'What happened to the dining-room table, Elaine? Why'd you chop it to pieces?'" he wonders. "The damage was irreparable," his wife replies. Homes describes nice people doing not-so-nice deeds in luminous, precise prose way better than Bret Easton Ellis, as well as Joyce Carol Oates, and occasionally within range of John Updike. But Homes is really the evil spawn of Grace Metalious and Quentin Tarantino. --Tim Appelo

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