13 October 2003

Music for Torching by A.M. Homes

A.M. Homes is slowly but surely becoming my favorite author. I began with Things You Should Know, then The Safety of Objects, followed by In a Country of Mothers. But none captivated me as Music for Torching did.

When a book makes me cry, it's powerful. When I can't put it down, it's a classic (in my mind). This novel is the story of one family: Elaine, the tired and unthanked housewife; Paul, the philandering and sleazy husband; and two sons, one the angel and one the brat. While it seems like it's a story that's been told dozens of times, it hasn't.

Too tired to cook dinner one night, Elaine asks Paul to barbecue. After some joking around with lighter fluid, Paul begins seducing Elaine by their barbecue. What happens next results in a fire that Elaine and Paul hope to purify her and start her anew: but which ends with both hilarious and devastating results. (Lingers on the theme that you can't run away from your troubles; they just follow you.)

I won't spoil anything, but the characters encountered include: a very, very sexy cop; the perfect housewife who puts Elaine to shame until Elaine really gets to know her; a "date" who manages to convince Paul to alter even his private area, among other humorous characters.

A.M. Homes brings these characters to life--and you can relate to them. Humorous, delightful. Even the end, when a tragic incident occurs involving a school hostage situation, when I was crying, still, I was thanking A.M. Homes for delivering such a powerful and beautiful novel.

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