Short stories are sort of acquired taste. Readers either really love them, or have no use and stick to novels. I for one love both and I’m so excited that two of my favorite authors have come out with new collections.
A.M. Homes is the author of five novels, two short story collections and one memoir. It’s been nearly three decades since her debut short story collection, THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS was published. The Showtime film adaptation of THE SAFETY OF OBJECTS introduced audiences to actress, Kristen Stewart and Homes’ somewhat unusual slant on people and situations.
In her new collection, DAYS OF AWE (Viking), it’s her sharp observations of our perspectives on others, hoping they can and will be who we want them to be, finally realizing they can only be themselves. In the process, often creating sexual dysfunction, shock and disappointment.
In, “Brother on Sunday,” Homes takes us to the Hamptons where a clique of Upper East-side New Yorkers, summer, drinking entirely too much alcohol and spewing entirely too much sarcasm, interspersed with conversation. The protagonist is a plastic surgeon who lulls the day away observing body forms frolicking on the beach. In the acknowledgements, Homes thanks the famous painter, Eric Fischl. The story reads as if it’s a written portrait of a Fischl character study for one of his paintings, featuring people on the shore.
In one of her more humorous stories, “A Prize For Every Player,” the father of a family who regularly competes while shopping for groceries at a big box store, is nominated for President by fellow shoppers. I found it to be a unique view of the every man’s ability to become president based on what he feeds listeners – extremely timely.
Lydia Millet is the Pulitzer Prize award nominated author of ten novels and now her second short story collection, FIGHT NO MORE (WWNorton&Co). She wrote one of my favorite novels MERMAIDS IN PARADISE. Her new collection of short stories, FIGHT NO MORE is just totally over the top fabulous! It’s a collection of stories cast with characters all trying to find a place to call home.
FIGHT NO MORE features Nina, a lonely real-estate agent just trying to live her life a day at a time. As she moves through the homes of LA’s elite, readers experience the ordinary to the bizarre. It’s a satiric, yet compassionate perspective on people daily living their lives, yet finding themselves often in ironic and hilarious situations.
One story takes place in the middle class neighborhood of Los Felix. It begins when a woman’s husband doesn’t return from work. After three days, she goes to his office, only to find out he’s left with his secretary. She goes home, feeling abandoned and letting things around the house slowly fall apart, when seven midget men begin showing up in her house doing errands and projects. They don’t ask for money, she doesn’t want to offend them. Finally the men grow into full size, forcing her to leave her house. She puts the place up for sale warning her realtor, Nina to look out for the seven little men.
The stories are connected with various characters, examples of homes, events coming to an ending some might find sad, but I found hopeful. But, I must admit, I’m glad I don’t live in LA anymore.
Tell us your thoughts about short stories. Have a wonderful day.