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.