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The Safety of Objects

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  3,767 ratings  ·  289 reviews

Published to overwhelming critical acclaim, this extraordinary collection of short stories established A. M. Homes as one of the most provocative and daring writers of her generation. Here you'll find the cult classic "A Real Doll," the tale of a teenage boy's erotic obsession with his sister's favorite doll; "Adults Alone," which first introduced Paul and Elaine, the cra

Paperback, 176 pages
Published February 18th 2003 by HarperCollins (first published 1990)
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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  3,767 ratings  ·  289 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
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
Apr 11, 2020 rated it really liked it
Strange (sometimes to a contrived, schematic degree) and sporadically exhilarating tales about the maddening nature of acquisitiveness, the safe yet volatile solidity of Stuff versus transience and irreconcilable want. The characters in the weaker stories--Jim Train is a good example--can feel a little placeholderish, secondary to thematic concerns. John Cheever meets Joy Williams might give you a rough idea. Men and women seemingly on the cusp of some kind of irreversible malignant strain of fr ...more
Janet Mitchell
Apr 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
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
Jul 25, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jul 14, 2015 rated it liked it
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.
"Elaine takes the boys to Florida and drops them off like they're dry cleaning..."
Jeanie Zwick
Jun 13, 2007 added it
Recommends it for: Lev
I recently discovered Homes. She's an excellent storyteller - a whimsical and vivid voice.
Mar 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
to be in love with a barbie doll. ah. childhood.
I think Homes has found the deepest secrets of humankind and made them terrifyingly ordinary and shockingly real.
Simone Peterson
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
When the first line that jumped out to me was “I know where I can get some crack” I knew it was going to be a wild, interesting read. It didn’t disappoint.
Julia Long
May 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 07, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Speechless. One of the best short-story sets that holds timewise even to today. One word, toothbrush.
Danilo Flechaz
Aug 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Eliza Victoria
Aug 30, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The American suburbia has always been much maligned. Think Rick Moody’s The Ice Storm, think The Stepford Wives, think Desperate Housewives. In suburbia, everything is perfect, and everyone is lonely – because of, despite of.

A.M. Homes’ short story collection The Safety of Objects, first published in 1990, uncovers the bizarre in places where everything is supposed to follow the rules. In “Looking for Johnny”, a man, possibly crazed, kidnaps a young boy and later on tells him that he is not the
Beem Weeks
Nov 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
Jenny (Reading Envy)
Dec 10, 2010 rated it really liked it
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.
Shannon Adelaide
Mar 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Bree Neely
Sep 10, 2009 rated it liked it
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.
Jan 08, 2016 rated it really liked it
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
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.
Sep 09, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
The stories in this book are shocking, but Homes didn't write these stories purely to shock.
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
Shelves: favorites
pretty uneven but that's alright, Rly strong beginning and Ending. can't stop thinking about the Barbie story.
Tish Grier
Jan 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: literary-fiction
great quirky stories highlighting the surreality of suburban life. I aw the suburb I grew up in in this book. highly recommended!
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
Oct 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
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
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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

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