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Homecoming (High Risk Books) Paperback – June 1, 2000


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Product Details

  • Series: High Risk Books
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Serpent's Tail; First Edition edition (June 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1852424583
  • ISBN-13: 978-1852424589
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.3 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,621,792 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

When Katey Bruscke's bus arrives in her unnamed hometown, she finds the scenery blurred, "as if my hometown were itself surfacing from beneath a black ocean." At the conclusion of new novelist Gussoff's "day-in-the-life-of" first-person narrative, the reader feels equally blurred by the relentless dysfunction, unhappiness and drug-taking self-destruction of Katey, her family and friends. Katey receives a phone call from the police asking her to identify the body of her older sister Reese, an addict who has been shot in a "drug-related" crime. Leaving the police station, Katey takes the bus to the town she left two years earlierDbut she does not inform her family of Reese's death. In the next 24 hours, she reconnects with addicted, doomed high school friends, gets a new tattoo over her heart (a cameo), and visits her younger sister, Shay (after having slept with Shay's boyfriend). In repeated backstory scenarios, the childhood Katey appears destined for drug addiction: "Our family lived on pills. Our mother didn't believe in pain." Katie wonders "how the three of us didn't have major accidents, something disfiguring," then realizes that Reese's death is indeed such an event, and that she must save herself from a similar end. A painful expos of how we avoid feeling, this can be a demanding book for the reader. In the end, though, it works effectively as a prose poem about a nightmare passage in one woman's life. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

More About the Author

I am an over-intellectual, hyper-ambitious dilettante Didikai living in Seattle, WA with one smart-assed sci-fi artist husband and two cat-children, Molly Bloom and Paul Atriedes. I write speculative and literary fiction.


The moniker "spitkitten" dates back to my early days on the Internet. This portmanteau has proved easier to remember or spell than my name, and at this point, would be -- should I ever dream of it (never!) -- impossible to shake.

Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 4, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Ms. Gussoff is an original. Her gift for language, her off-beat world, her main character's courage and grief and youth are all gripping. A short but power-full book, "Homecoming" can be read in a day or a night, leaving you outside your own life and inside the world of a sister's death, a lover's loss, through the consciousness of a young woman's quirky, poetic, haunting and raunchy-sad, but strong life. Highly recommended. A great talent is beginning to bloom here. I look forward to her next works.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
Gussoff's first novel is a bold step in the tradition of other Serpent's Tail authors, and she carries the torch proudly. Much of the book centers around one decision, one act by Katey, the protagonist - how to tell her family that her older sister is dead.
The narration jumps between past and present. Katey relives memories of growing up in a simultaneously distant and suffocating family, where Reese, her older sister, was the primary influence on her ideas of life and love. At the same time, she struggles with returning to her hometown and finding a way to tell her parents and younger sister that Reese has been murdered.
This is less a mystery than a modern bildungsroman, a tale of inner self-discovery. Gussoff's book is a frank and, at times, darkly comic look at what happens when life slips the tracks. Although we learn throughout the novel that Katey has never been a conventional girl, the conundrum that this book finds her in is a challenge that ultimately leaves the reader questioning his or her own reactions, feelings, and abilities.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Jolene McNamara on April 3, 2001
Format: Paperback
I think this is an important book. I found many passages difficult to stomach, but the writing was deeply layered and so original that it was worth the struggle. This writer understands sorrow. While I have never lost a family member, I felt like I was feeling everything Katey, the main character was feeling. It was like being on a journey in one young woman's life. I did really identify with the "you can never go home again" theme in the book. It was accurate, the hardship of trying to go "home" after being away for so long, where everything is both familiar and very, very strange at the same time. It was also a very funny book. I think I must be about the same age (I am 25), because the cultural references added quite a lot, and some of the other characters seemed like people I know in my life. I didn't think I would like Homecoming when I started it, but it has stayed with me since. To me, that makes a good book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 27, 2001
Format: Paperback
A short, yet emotionally challenging tale of the death of a sister. Did Katey learn from Reese? Go with Katey on this pilgrimage that examines and reflects the power of place, the pull (and push) of family, of sisterhood. Our protagonist simultaneously avoids and throws herself headlong through this journey.
Gussoff's prose puts you there seeing, smelling, sensing what Katey does. Let her take you on this cathartic trip. I can't wait to see where Ms Gussoff takes us next!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Peter T. Winters on February 28, 2001
Format: Paperback
I have read this book for a week now and managed to finish it just a few hours ago. It's slim, very, probably an evening's read, but I found it too disturbingly real at some places to continue and had to put it aside for some time.
Caren Gussoff gives us an excelently written story of a young girl's life that is full of details that have haunted her for a long time and still do it in the present. As others have mentioned, the plot evolves around the girl's siter's death and her inability to tell that to her parents. She soon understands that before she can do that, she has to find her own plays in the world and her siter's life.
The most important features of this story are the words and sentences it is told with. Gussoff surely knows how to handle them in just the right way, especially so for a newcomer. In some places, it is almost impossible to stare out of the window for a while, wondering how it is possible to convey such deep feelings merely through some ordinary and everyday expressions.
This book is certainly one of the best of the last year. Hopefully Caren will continue writing the same way or maybe even better.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 22, 2001
Format: Paperback
This short novel had to be one of the best I have encountered in months. Gussoff does use complicated metaphors, but in a masterful and surprising way. Katey, her main character, is an absolute postmodern icon. She is a lost soul, lost in a world without language, unsure of her ability to give or receive love. Yet, she remains devastatingly human. If you have ever lost anyone close to you, I think this book will be familiar in its naked heartache.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By SJ on September 17, 2001
Format: Paperback
I was intrigued, I must say. This book seems to find its readers on either side of the loved it/hated it line. I hope Ms. Gussoff sees this, and realizes what an accomplishment this is, in and of itself!
So, curious, I ordered this book, and I really, well, liked it. "Liked" seems not quite accurate...it well, changed me somehow. I'd dare not say it was a perfect novel. Far from it, but I have never read a style quite like this author's, and the sadness was what got me. The loss was itself a character, a character with no lines or description, but one always there, a bare-naked and razor sharp presence. I will agree at times the prose was clumsy, and I think she may have traded clarity for style, but I read an interview with the author, and she is surprisingly young. I think her works will grow into something quite impressive, if Homecoming is any indicator. I think this slim volume is worth the struggle.
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