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The Safety of Objects: Stories

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  3,565 ratings  ·  276 reviews
The breakthrough story collection that established A. M. Homes as one of the most daring writers of her generation Originally published in 1990 to wide critical acclaim, this extraordinary first collection of stories by A. M. Homes confronts the real and the surreal on even terms to create a disturbing and sometimes hilarious vision of the American dream. Included here are ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published January 29th 2013 by Penguin Books (first published 1990)
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3.80  · 
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 ·  3,565 ratings  ·  276 reviews

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Peter Boyle
From what I gather, A.M. Homes is known for being a provocative writer. And her debut short story collection certainly confirms this: ten disturbing tales that explore the dark side of middle-class, suburban life - the American nightmare that dares to capsize the American dream.

All of the stories have the most unsettling, ominous tone. Children engage in acts you would hope they know nothing about, their innocence long lost. Bored adults present a sunny facade to the outside world, but turn to d
Jim Breslin
Oct 31, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Safety of Objects by A.M. Homes is a fascinating collection of odd suburban tales. Written in a simple style, these stories are laden with symbolism that reveal a disturbing depth. A couple experiments with drugs after shipping their kids to the grandparents, a fat girl sunbathes nude in her backyard, a boy has a sexual affair with his sister’s Barbie doll.

I first read A.M. Homes last summer. Her short story Do Not Disturb was listed as one of the best short stories of all time. When I read
The very first sentence of the very first story is a winner ("Elaine takes the boys to Florida and drops them off like they're dry cleaning.") and the rest of the book continues to delight from there. That's the beauty of Homes's writing; the sentences are simple, barely descriptive, and yet evocative.
"They are alone together, trapped in their bed." If that isn't the saddest true story of many couples with children, I don't know what is. #smarmychildfree

When your life is looking disa
Jul 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Stories exploring the strangeness that lies just beneath the surface of things. The subject matter ranges from crack cocaine to kidnapping to childhood sex games and Homes handles it all with a frankness, a willingness to stare unblinkingly at the taboo, that makes the stories almost perversely readable. There’s a somberness to the collection; the strangeness emerges as a symptom of, or reaction against, the characters' feelings of alienation, desperation, or general unhappiness. And yet there i ...more
Janet Mitchell
Apr 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: short story lovers, lovers of the weird
I have really started to enjoy more and more short fiction. I heard about this book on NPR and think that parts of it were turned into a movie, but I could be wrong. I just loved the openeness of the characters. It is very depressing, so don't read it when you are down. Read it when you think your life and family is crazy. It should perk you right up, hopefully. Because if your family is this weird, you are in trouble or maybe you should write your own book and make more money, which would also ...more
Josephine Quealy
I wish I’d read A.M. Homes much earlier in life because I could already have spent all this time walking around with all that perverse, at times depraved, and funny writing tucked safely up inside me. But if I’d already read everything she’d written I’d feel like I’d wasted my stash, burnt through it too quickly. Discovering A.M. Homes at 48 (me, not her) is like some Zen or Buddhist (or both) lesson in appreciating what you’re reading right now. I thoroughly and heartily recommend that if you h ...more
"Elaine takes the boys to Florida and drops them off like they're dry cleaning..."
I think Homes has found the deepest secrets of humankind and made them terrifyingly ordinary and shockingly real.
Mar 04, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
to be in love with a barbie doll. ah. childhood.
Jeanie Zwick
Jun 13, 2007 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lev
I recently discovered Homes. She's an excellent storyteller - a whimsical and vivid voice.
Julia Long
May 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This beyond brilliant short story collection is definitely in the running for my fav book of all time. I'm humbled by this thing. I'm so ecstatic and horrified that it exists. Oh, God. I love it so fucking much, Jesus H Christ. It literally changed my life. I still think about it every day. It haunts me in the best and worst way. I was genuinely disturbed by it but also deeply and painfully inspired. If you can handle it, read it. I'll admit, I see why a lot of people can't take it. I have anxi ...more
Danilo Flechaz
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This felt like reading a series of events related to the private life of the contemporary world being pushed to the most radical and unsuspected extremes. Disfunctional couples blaming the way his children are; diverse interpretations of the mind of children in perverse scenarios, and a heartbreaking tale about the pain of a mother with his own blood being in a vegetative state. One can only imagine a bunch of stories like these that have not been written, waiting for being touched by Homes whil ...more
Beem Weeks
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A. M. Homes is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors. This one here is a collection of short stories covering many different lives. There are all sorts of quirky characters involved in odd situation that really aren't as odd as they seem. Homes shines a light into the darkest corners of American suburbia, exposing the real goings-on within these outwardly tight-knit neighborhoods. Kids behaving badly, parents behaving worse than the kids. A. M. Homes is as daring an author as can be found ...more
Jul 14, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I love A.M. Holmes! She writes the most messed up things - I feel guilty for liking them so much sometimes but they are wildly entertaining! I really struggle with short story collections though because I find them so uneven. There is rarely a collection where I say, "Wow, all these are so great!" and those stories that are not as good seem to drag down the whole collection for me.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Some short stories are good because they have a twist or surprise in them, or are full of casts of quirky characters. These are the other kind, the type that you'll keep thinking back to because they were full of messed up people doing bizarre things, but somehow they resonate with you, and suddenly you want to go hide in your linen closet and write love letters to yourself.
Bree Neely
Technically perfect, but holy crap this woman can write some depressing shit. Very unpleasant to read one story after the next that make you want to claw your eyes out and run screaming into the night.

As far as writing goes, however, she's amazing.
Shannon Adelaide
I love AM Homes' work, and this book of short stories is no different. A quick read, the first and the last stories are absolutely staggering. She manages to take the usual and show how there really is no such thing.
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: big-l-little-l
Disturbing and anxiety inducing, but incredibly intimate view of inner lives. The voices in the stories are extremely realistic, and revealing deeply private thoughts. The first story, Adults Alone is a precursor to Music for Torching.
Apr 04, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
very well written. so effectively depressing - i debated if i should take away a star because it made me feel so low. but it's so successful in creating that lonely, almost nasty suburbia.
Jan 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A.M. Homes is a superb writer. Her stories of the perverse always enchant and disturb in equal measure.
Josephine M. K. Edwards
Feb 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
pretty uneven but that's alright, Rly strong beginning and Ending. can't stop thinking about the Barbie story.
May 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
10 short stories: Brutally honest, funny, full of strange characters.
- A couple gets wasted on crack
- The kidnapping of not-Johnny
- Erotic fat girl Cheryl
- A lawyer pees in his colleague's plant
- Frank chases shoplifters through a mall
- Anxious girl hiding in closet
- A mother kills her handicapped son
- Kid experiments
- A boy in trouble
- Sex with Barbie

'In the heat [her thighs] seem to melt into the plastic, seeping out from under her shorts, slipping through the vinyl as though eventually she'l
Livian Grey
Nov 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is probably the better anthologies I've read of hers. The infamous Barbie story is actually hilarious if you don't take any offense to it. Once again, there are layers under the surface most people would prefer to ignore. There's less ambiguity and more realness to these stories, some of them being the "safer" stories before Homes was really finding her stride. To my mind, she's no more shocking than Chuck Palahniuk, and in some cases she's much better.

I loved the Music for Torching "prequ
Stories about the dark or perverse or depressing or sometimes darkly funny side of the American suburbia. Stories full of sex, boredom, strange fears and paranoia, hidden hatred, and bizarre situations, with hints of big and small tragedies.

Homes isn't a very wordy writer, and she doesn't over-explain things. She just throws you into a situation where, for example, a teenage guy falls in love with his kid sister's Barbie doll; where ten-year-old kids have a rather adult-like slumber party; or wh
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I like A.M. Homes. Her reading and discussion of Shirley Jackson's The Lottery on The New Yorker Fiction Podcast is amazing. This collection, her first from the early 90s, is quite good. Despite men coming off horribly in every one of these stories (that's sort of her brand), she does so many interesting things with concept and weird humor. I may even read another collection of hers.

I do have one major quibble: the first story in the collection, "Adults Alone," is overall an awesome story in te
I read this fairly quickly. In my freshman year of college, which was more than ten years ago, I read Music for Torching for a book group at school. I remember than I had read Music for Torching in one day, and I liked it. Later, while working on my English degree, I read a story or two of Homes' for class.

This book is similar to what I have read of AM Homes in the past. When I read her, part of me expects to be shocked. She seems to have carved a niche for herself in shock lit. This book is a l
Jun 09, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Sep 02, 2017 rated it liked it
every time I read something from AM Homes I feel like I need a shower and a weeks worth of Charlie Brown Christmas specials. There's something distinctly wrong with her fascination of childhood and just post childhood sexuality, one can only speculate as to how weird her childhood must've been...after all, fiction isn't born in thin air. The fact that she makes it readable at all is her talent I suppose. I mean, The End of ALice, - loathsome and offensive, yet I cannot look away.
Dec 31, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018
There were some fun and interesting stories in here, but just as many that I probably didn't need or (in at least one case) wish that I hadn't read. My enjoyment of Homes is very uneven at this point. I loved This Book Will Change Your Life, but have really only tolerated some of her other work. I do, however, feel like she's one of the more unique writers out there at the moment. So, I'm interested in seeing what she'll write next.
I wish I could read this for the first time again, but you can't go back! The second read was still amazing, but that first read, as a teenager, changed the scope of what writing was for me. Fever dream after fever dream.
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A.M. Homes (first name Amy) is the author of the novels, This Book Will Save Your Life, Music For Torching, The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers, and Jack, as well as the short-story collections, Things You Should Know and The Safety of Objects, the travel memoir, Los Angeles: People, Places and The Castle on the Hill, and the artist's book Appendix A: An Elaboration on the Novel the End of A ...more
“I liked the fact she understood how we all have little secret habits that seem normal enough to us, but which we know better than to mention out loud.” 20 likes
“I’m trying to find some piece of myself that is truly me, a part that I would be willing to wear like a jewel around my neck.” 8 likes
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