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on 22 December 2004
In a series of skillfully constructed short stories, A. M. Homes has unveiled with great élan the frightening underside of suburbia. The characters run the gamut from a disappointed pedophile to a lascivious obese girl, from a responsible mother gone wild on a weekend away from her children to a teen boy who becomes strangely attracted to his sister's Barbie. However, revealing any more about these stories would be unseemly, as the degenerate twists are part of their seductive powers.
Despite the shocking premises, the basic situations and feelings evoked are often universal - making this book a somewhat uneasy read. The reader does not want to identify with these characters, but Homes, with laser-like precision, forces the reader to just such apperception. Reading "Safety of Objects" left me alternately paralyzed with laughter and oddly nauseous - a true mark of genius! This book is the first I've read by Homes, but I'm already eagerly anticipating the next.
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on 20 June 2004
A.M. Homes has painted a dark and bizarre picture of suburbia, knocking down that whole fantasy of how the suburbs are pure and clean. She has put together a twisted collection of stories that are subtle, outrageous and downright disturbing. This is not an easy read for those who have weak stomachs or are extremely sensitive. However, if you're looking for something a little more darker and sinister, "The Safety of Objects" just might be the thing for you.
When you think of "suburbia," you think of somewhere that is safe, quiet, boring and normal. These stories take place in a neighborhood that could very well resemble somewhere where YOU live. The truth is that this "normal" neighborhood is contaminated with bizarre behavior and unbelievable stories. There's the couple who decide to do drugs when their kids are away from home. There's the kid who was abducted by a kidnapper, only to end up being a big disappointment to the abductor. There's the mother with the son that is in a coma after a car accident, and she doesn't know what should be done. And let's not forget about the little boy who has an extreme obsession with his sister's Barbie doll. These are only some of the stories you will uncover in this unrelenting and unapologetic read.
Homes has a great way of getting straight to the point without using any extra or unnecessary words. Her writing reminds me a little of Raymond Carver, only more twisted and graphic. She's able to create some very interesting and creepy characters without having to give you their complete life story. While there are some stories that I like more than others, I found myself enjoying the entire book. Just when I thought I had read some pretty twisted and disturbing stuff, I started to realize that I hadn't seen nothing yet after I started reading this book.
I cannot stress this enough; this is NOT recommended for those who are extremely sensitive and get offended easily. These stories are dark, graphic and unforgiving. Some stories aren't as extreme as others while there are some that'll make you feel downright guilty for reading. I had a hard time reading some of these stories, but A.M. Homes' craft is done so well that you can't help but continue reading. People who like Chuck Palahniuk are bound to get a kick out of these stories. My favourite stories in this collection are "Looking for Johnny," "Jim Train," "The Bullet Catcher," "Esther in the Night," and everyone's favourite cult classic, "A Real Doll," which is the funniest and most deranged story in the entire collection.
"The Safety of Objects" is a humorous and chilling read that you will have a hard time forgetting. It's great to see something that is supposed to be viewed as innocent such as "suburbia," and see it transformed into something much more sinister and terrifying. If you're a fan of the short story and aren't afraid to venture into some of the darkest and tragic corners of fiction, then this is something you should consider picking up. I will never forget these stories. They are forever imprinted into my brain. -Michael Crane
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VINE VOICEon 14 August 2013
Ok, I'm not a fan of short story collections. when I pick up a book I like to get into it, get to know the characters, and go on a journey with them. I don't like the stop-and-start-again nature of short story collections.

So, when the second chapter came along, I was hit by that usual sinking feeling of "oh no, it's a collection of short stories, isn't it!".

Whilst I still think there should be a law that all short story collections should have to say as much, clearly, in their title and on their cover, to avoid such accidental purchases, I did, probably for the first time, actually enjoy this collection.

There was something cohesive about it, which made the stories all seem part of a whole, as if it was a novel, just where each chapter had different characters who never met. You could, though, imagine them meeting, or passing through in the background of each other's lives.

It also helped that each of the stories was engaging and a great read with interesting characters, and that each story was of a similar length, so you got a feel for how much to invest in each one (unlike some collections, where the stories can vary from very short to several chapters).

I'd actually even recommend it to others, and will definitely be getting some of the author's other works.
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on 4 September 2007
I am not a great lover of short stories to be honest excepting early Ray Bradbury in my formative years but it's been a while since I read a book which is so discomfitting and accurate in its portrayal of characters and their nuances. Because, the stories are very short, it's not a book that you can read in a oner but one to be savoured for each novella and all it encompasses. All but one of the stories are superb in their execution (I just couldn't see the point of 'The Bullet Stopper') and while some of the events played out make for strange fodder, the book as a whole is easily digestible. Excellent.
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 14 September 2009
Somewhat disappointing given the tremendous depth and sense of realism of her last collection of short fiction Things You Should Know, these stories are slighter and have a rather obsessive air - focusing mainly on pre-adolescent fantasies. One boy has a relationship with his sister's Barbie doll, another boy is abducted but the abductor does not molest him, merely wanting a boy to be a father to, or so it appears. The writer, as always focuses her formidable attention onto the seething undertow beneath the crust of ordinary life; but the briefness and insignificance of these stories leave one wanting more. Two stories about men who are, in differing ways, locked into lives that are slowly driving them crazy, and a woman who kills her comatose son, typify this rather more conventional sense of the desperate horrors of suburban America.

Though it can't be said that Homes is running out of steam, one has come to expect more of the coruscating originality and extraordinary writing intelligence she displayed in Music for Torching and The End of Alice.
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on 19 April 2013
A. M. Homes is clearly a talented writer with the ability to vividly describe a whole range of situations and experiences. She has an eye for detail that is unrivalled and can inhabit the mind of diverse people from a middle aged male lawyer to an eight year old girl. I enjoyed several of these stories and found them engaging and interesting. However, I found the last few stories to be disturbing and pornographic dealing with child sexuality and abuse in astonishing detail. I could not finish a couple of them. I was torn between admiration for Homes' writing and revulsion at some of her subjects. Other than the phrases 'erotic obsession' and 'perverse' there was no warning about the graphic content of these stories. So be warned.
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on 17 December 2013
I think the best way to describe this book is, you know your own very private thoughts, the ones you'll never speak of, they're your own special thoughts which will never be shared. These thoughts can be fun, dark, shocking, erotic, but for your own self respect you'll never share them. A.M Homes invites us into peoples lives and you get to read these deep, dark, amusing, disturbing thoughts.

As with everything I've read of hers, I couldn't put the book down once started. Thought provoking and embarrassing from the point that there are times and situations that came back to mind from within my own deeply shrouded inner self.
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on 24 January 2014
The short stories in this short collection are entertaining miniatures. There are no big stories, no big ideas and no twists in the tales, but each is finely done and carefully observed.

This is not realist literature, despite its convincingly depicted suburban setting, but realism overlaid with a slight edge of hallucination. Close enough to reality to be conceivable, but cranked up just enough to be amusing without becoming melodramatic.
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on 10 June 2012
Enjoyable set of off-the-wall short stories - snapshots of modern American life. Starts with the weakest 'Adults Alone' but worth persevering for 'Looking for Johnny', 'The I of It' and 'Esther in the Night'.
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on 1 January 2013
A great, readable collection of dark stories. Although the subjects can be regarded as quite controversial, within each story there is something deeply human and moving.
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