This is one of those books that, if you write at all, you get about twenty pages in and all you can think is, “I suck.” Homes is a master craftslady. I can’t remember the last time I’ve been so completely engrossed in a novel. This book is like an upgraded and updated and (if possible) even darker version of “The Corrections.” There’s a lot of buzz in the literary world about the new trend in novel writing being a takedown of the seemingly stereotypical upper class family. There’s a sick pleasure, almost Haneke-esque and definitely Franzen-esque in watching this family continually fall apart, and Homes, through her characters and their interactions, seems to be having a lot of fun in the destruction, while also bringing to the light all the sick impulses that humanity acts onin the dark. This is, literally, the novel Jonathan Franzen couldn’t write but really would have wanted to: Homes knows how to involve modern technology and this is the first really successful attempt I’ve seen at that in contemporary literature. The “technology” isn’t a character, and it doesn’t take over the novel (in figuring out how to navigate our now uber-connected world into their novels, writers are for the most part still struggling). Homes seems to be the only person out their who realizes that, despite the increasing encroachment of the reality that characters in contemporary literature are, like us, always “plugged in” what matters the most are the events and interactions that happen in “real life.” And what could have been a really hokey ending, (I mean, she really took a risk on this ending) was miraculously, and surprisingly, genuine. After exposing and embarrassing the modern world’s desire for self and social aggrandizement, and the often disgusting and degrading ways we paw around at making connections in real life as we prefer the safety of the screen; Homes gives us a surprisingly hopeful payoff. So far, this is the best book of the Fall 2012 reckoning. I can’t wait to read this book again.
Oh good! I’m about 200 pages into this book and can’t put it down either. Homes is among my favorite writers. The End of Alice and Music for Torching are as brilliant as they are dark. I am in such awe of her subtlety and razor sharp wit. But specifically, I appreciate that she is able to express her confidence as a writer without being patronizing or self-aggrandizing (*cough* Franzen). A.M’s writing teaches you things, but her genius is in letting you think that you did most of the work. If this book were to be made into a movie, I hope it’s directed by Todd Solondz. Nothing would be more perfect, more genius.