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The Safety of Objects

By D.M

The American writer A.M. Homes has been likened to J.D. Salinger; but she also has a little of our own Ian McEwan in her make-up. Her stories have a habit of the perverse and disturbing just under the surface of the everyday.

This is the first publication in the UK of Homes's debut collection of short stories, and shows a writer already in top gear. In "Adults Alone," a middle class couple get to share a weekend together without their children for the first time in years and—spiraling from a joint in the car to a run-on crack orgy—let the freedom go to their heads. In "Looking for Johnny," a boy is kidnapped by a child-molester, but so appalls his abductor with his TV-centered enervation that he remains untouched. The eponymous Jim Train is a man in the grip of mid-life crisis who finds, when his office is closed for a few days, that neither he nor his family want him at home. And in "A Real Doll" a teenage boy develops an obsession with his sister's Barbie Doll.

At first glance, these stories may seem indulgently extreme. But as we know, life is always stranger than fiction; one can't help feeling that Homes is simply narrowing the gap.