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Things You Should Know: A Collection of Stories

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Things You Should Know: A Collection of Stories Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

The most daring voice of her generation, A. M. Homes writes with terrifying compassion about the things that matter most. Homes's distinctive narratives illuminate our dreams and desires, our memories and losses, and our profound need for connection, and demonstrate how extraordinary the ordinary can be. In "Chinese Lesson," we meet Geordie, a man watching over his wandering, senile mother-in-law by means of an electronic chip implanted in the back of her neck. In "Remedy," an advertising executive bolts from the city one afternoon for the imagined comfort of her childhood home and finds that her parents have allowed Ray, an eccentric wellness guru, to move in. Sexy and inspiring, "Georgica" offers a meditative narrative about one woman's unconventional strategy for getting pregnant. "The Former First Lady and the Football Hero" is the deeply moving, darkly comic story of a former First Lady's courage in dealing with the President as his mind slowly evaporates.

In these beautifully written stories, we find shapeshifters, children running headlong into the darkness of adolescent sexuality, a man passionately wanting to live but not knowing how. And, most important, we find ourselves. An expert literary witness, A. M. Homes takes us places we would not go alone and brings us back — always with uncanny emotional accuracy, wit, and empathy. She is one of the master practitioners of American fiction, and Things You Should Know is a landmark collection.

Review:

"Written over the last decade, with several stories previously published in glossies and literary magazines, this volume confirms Homes's reputation as an expert stylist and unique chronicler of suburban drama." Publishers Weekly

Review:

"Even when these people end up hurting each other (as they always do), the tempo of Homes' dialogue seems to carry her characters to a cool, open space, and you the reader, follow along as they blaze the trail." Suzy Hansen, Salon.com (read the entire Salon review)

Review:

"Homes's storytelling is hypnotic....Despite the oddness of the stories, readers are still able to identify with the characters. Engaging and dynamic, Homes's writing is remarkably surreal. Recommended..." Library Journal

Review:

"A.M. Homes never plays it safe and it begins to look as if she can do almost anything." Michael Cunningham

Review:

"Haunting, disturbing, often radiantly intense, these protean stories change shape as if they are made of fire." Andrea Barrett

Review:

"This author's particular gifts are generally better displayed in novels....Far from perfect but never dull, and the author impresses as always with her willingness to take risks." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"[A] remarkable range of dramas, with characters whose tenuous or troublingly limited connections Homes establishes with a deft compactness." James O'Laughlin, Booklist

Synopsis:

In this stunningly original collection, A. M. Homes writes with terrifying compassion about the things that matter most. Homes's distinctive narrative illuminates our dreams and desires, our memories and losses, and demonstrates how extraordinary the ordinary can be. With uncanny emotional accuracy, wit, and empathy, Homes takes us places we recognize but would rather not go alone.

About the Author

A.M. Homes is the author of the novels The End of Alice, In a Country of Mothers, and Jack, as well as the short-story collection The Safety of Objects and the artist's book Appendix A. Her fiction has been translated into eight languages, and she is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Guggenheim Fellowship and a National endowment for the Arts Fellowship. Her fiction and nonfiction appear in magazines such as The New Yorker and Artforum, among others, and she is a contributing editor at Vanity Fair, Mirabella, Bomb, Blind Spot, and Story. She teaches in the writing programs at Columbia University and The New School and lives in New York City.

Table of Contents

The Chinese Lesson 1
Raft in Water, Floating 21
Georgica 29
Remedy 58
Rockets Round the Moon 91
Please Remain Calm 123
Things You Should Know 132
The Whiz Kids 135
Do Not Disturb 140
The Weather Outside is Sunny and Bright 167
The Former First Lady and the Football Hero 180

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 1 comment:

Janet Hamilton, January 16, 2007 (view all comments by Janet Hamilton)
A.M. Homes: Things You Should Know

If you?ve never read anything by A.M. Homes, this collection of short stories is a fine place to start. It gives you an introduction to the scope of her talent and the depth of her perception.

If you read the title story first you?ll know. What you?ll know is that most of us most of the time believe that we are missing some essential knowledge that was passed out one day when we were absent from school. That?s why our lives don?t work. Then maybe much later, if you?re lucky, like the narrator of this story, you?ll figure out that this list entitled: ?Things you should know? is not a list some teacher might have given you, but one you have to make up for yourself.

A central theme in Home?s fiction is the human search for a sense of real connection, something many of her characters seem to be missing. She?s not the first writer to show us how most of us, like her characters, have a sense of wanting to go home, but not knowing where home is. It?s how she lets her characters show us how to see deeply into our own yearnings that makes her spectacularly appealing. A casual remark made by one character about another will jump out from every page to show you to yourself.

In ?The Chinese Lesson? Susan, the wife, has a brother who is a psychopharmocologist, ?a specialist in the containment of feeling.? He has arranged for a tracing chip to be implanted in their aging mother to keep track of her. Susan?s husband, Geordie, the narrator, longs for connection to his half Chinese wife. As he attempts to track his mother in law, he realizes how distant he is from his own life. Geordie is one of those people who think they missed out on some vital piece of info somewhere along the way when they weren?t listening to the teacher. To him it?s something ?earth-shattering,? but Susan insists: ?Everything is not earth-shattering, despite what you think.? Geordie wants something. He wants more. He wants connection He tells us that he fell in love with Susan because of something he imagines she is missing, some hollowness, some lack, some feeling of being on the outside, some thing he?s familiar with and lacks himself. But he can?t figure out how to connect with her lack of connection. There is one thing Geordie knows about Susan: ?There is nothing Susan likes less than to fail. She will do anything not to fail; she will not try so as not to fail.? Susan will not try to find the connection. Geordie can?t stop trying.

Homes chooses unique situations to people with characters built around psychological honesty and insightful perception. One of the most starkly original stories in the collection is ?Georgica,? in which a young woman seeks to impregnate herself with stolen sperm. Here Homes is asking hard questions: Can you start a connection with a new baby by stealing sperm from the father who you don?t even know? How?s that going to turn out? Wouldn?t that be like getting really drunk on New Year?s Eve, and believing everything will be new tomorrow? Knowing you?ll have a hangover -- is that anyway to start something new?

Homes sometimes drifts her readers into surrealistic waters, as in ?Raft in Water, Floating.? In this story ?people often have the feeling there is something wrong, that they are not where they should be.? ?Something is not right.? To this already surrealistic world of swimming pools and anorexia, Homes adds shape-shifting transformations that may or may not be gratuitous.

Whether it?s the painful neediness of an adult daughter in ?Remedy,? a young man who learns a excruciating lesson in ?The Whiz Kids,? or Nancy Reagan in ?The Former First Lady and the Football Hero? struggling to cope with Ronnie?s Alzheimer?s, A.M. Homes probes our human wounds deeply, opening us to see, feel, and laugh at our aching selves in ways we wouldn?t have believed possible.
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Product Details

ISBN:
9780688167127
Subtitle:
A Collection of Stories
Publisher:
Harper
Author:
Homes, A. M.
Location:
New York
Subject:
Social life and customs
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Short Stories (single author)
Subject:
Stories (single author)
Copyright:
Edition Number:
1st ed.
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Series Volume:
107-175
Publication Date:
September 2002
Binding:
Hardback
Language:
English
Pages:
224
Dimensions:
9 x 6 x 0.872222 in 17.2 oz

Related Subjects

Fiction and Poetry » Literature » A to Z

Things You Should Know: A Collection of Stories
0 stars - 0 reviews
$ In Stock
Product details 224 pages HarperCollins Publishers - English 9780688167127 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Written over the last decade, with several stories previously published in glossies and literary magazines, this volume confirms Homes's reputation as an expert stylist and unique chronicler of suburban drama." Publishers Weekly
"Review" by , "Even when these people end up hurting each other (as they always do), the tempo of Homes' dialogue seems to carry her characters to a cool, open space, and you the reader, follow along as they blaze the trail." (read the entire Salon review)
"Review" by , "Homes's storytelling is hypnotic....Despite the oddness of the stories, readers are still able to identify with the characters. Engaging and dynamic, Homes's writing is remarkably surreal. Recommended..."
"Review" by , "A.M. Homes never plays it safe and it begins to look as if she can do almost anything."
"Review" by , "Haunting, disturbing, often radiantly intense, these protean stories change shape as if they are made of fire."
"Review" by , "This author's particular gifts are generally better displayed in novels....Far from perfect but never dull, and the author impresses as always with her willingness to take risks."
"Review" by , "[A] remarkable range of dramas, with characters whose tenuous or troublingly limited connections Homes establishes with a deft compactness."
"Synopsis" by , In this stunningly original collection, A. M. Homes writes with terrifying compassion about the things that matter most. Homes's distinctive narrative illuminates our dreams and desires, our memories and losses, and demonstrates how extraordinary the ordinary can be. With uncanny emotional accuracy, wit, and empathy, Homes takes us places we recognize but would rather not go alone.
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