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Things You Should Know: A Collection of Stories Paperback – Bargain Price, September 2, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Library Journal
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
Unfortunately, she's a slave to literary fashion, specifically, boring, New Yorker-style catatonic realism. (In fairness, perhaps to break the mold a little, Homes tosses in some self-consciously clever surrealistic bits here and there, but it doesn't work.) Homes gets accolades because she believes all the right things and expresses them in all the right ways -- but that's not the sign of an intellectually rigorous writer.
The women tend to be hyper-accomplished professionals, usually married to confused, weak men whom they have to dress and feed in the morning. This scenario got tired after the second story. By the fourth I began to feel like I was dealing with an ideologue.
Of course, that's the risk when you put together collections of stories from the last ten years. You start to see the writer's tricks ... for example, several of her characters are obsessed with being prepared. They try to stock up on emergency supplies to plan for every conceivable occurrence. OK, good enough idea once. But two, three times?
Recommendation: If you like New Yorker-style fiction, you'll really enjoy this. If you want ideas and characters explored in a little more depth, take a pass.
Homes has undoubted talent, and most of the stories start well and have interesting themes. However, she doesn't seem to know where to go with many of the pieces, and the endings uniformly pack no punch at all, rather allowing the stories to peter out into forgettableness.
The two exceptions to this trend are 'Georgica', startling if only for its premise of a woman who inseminates herself using sperm found in used condoms (!), and the outstanding title story, in which all Homes' best absurdist traits are on show. Perhaps significantly, the latter is the shortest piece in the collection.
This is not a terrible book, and is probably worth about 2.5 stars, but how anyone could give it 5 is beyond me. One is tempted to recommend that those reviewers turn to some of the undisputed masters of the short form for greater delights than can be found here.
I heard Ms. Homes say at a reading that "Things You Should Know" was conceived to contain stories that all involve "shape-shifting" of some sort. The stories don't display her talent; they're boring. They're pretty bad, really. It reads as though she's coasting, now that she's become as famous as she is. I don't think anyone without a "name" would have got this book published. One of the stories, btw, is on the Nerve website, so you can have a free look.
She's uneven, I think. I used to refer to A.M. Homes as my favorite contemporary author. Now, I find her to be ubiquitous and mediocre. This book is perfect example of her mediocre writing. Ms. Homes, though, is marvellously talented. Read "Music For Torching" (my favorite) instead, if you haven't. Or "The Saftey of Objects" (my own 2nd favorite) or even "Jack." "In a Country of Mothers" is also easy to skip - her first (I'm pretty sure) and predictable from right near the beginning.
If you've not read Ms. Homes's work, I would definitely not start here. If you're a fan - go for it. I know I'll keep reading what she writes and keep watching her read - though it is becoming tiresome.
As an aside: she's rather unfriendly and pompous in person, a busy-looking-for-better-people-to-talk-to type. But, that's her prerogative. She's earned the right.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is a series of short stories with a SF basis. The stories are wonderfully weird.Published 6 months ago by ellen foster
I picked up A M Homes short story collection after seeing it on an earlier NY Times Notable Books of the Year list. Read morePublished on January 9, 2014 by Joseph Landes
I love the novels by A.M. Homes, and also like the short story collection "The Safety of Objects." But this one? Yuck! What happened? Read morePublished on May 22, 2012 by Donald E. Gilliland
Another book that I picked up simply because it had a great title was Things You Should Know by A. M. Holmes. Read morePublished on April 8, 2008 by Josh More
I read this book in three days commuting to work.... I just couldn't put it down! What fascinated me, is that many of the characters in the short stories seem somehow to be... Read morePublished on August 14, 2007 by Maggie
I *LOVE* short stories, but this book was so horrible that I couldn't even make it all the way through. The stories were typically disgusting or offensive and often led nowhere. Read morePublished on July 10, 2007 by Schlaftag
Skip this book as it will not save your life!!!
But I LOVED the cover, of course....
I was blown away with The Safety of Objects and decided to give Things You Should Know a whirl right after reading the former book. A.M. Read morePublished on April 9, 2005 by CoffeeGurl
A local book dealer that I frequent quite regularly suggested A.M Homes to me. I have read the book out of sheer disbelief up to this point and now I can't bring myself to finish... Read morePublished on December 20, 2004 by JDC