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Typical New Yorker fiction
on October 14, 2002
Homes has a vivid imagination and outstanding writing skills. She's in command of her storytelling technique. Her prose strikes all the right notes. She's even good at characterization.
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.