Hot Best Seller

Music for Torching

Availability: Ready to download

Paul and Elaine have two boys and a beautiful home, yet they find themselves thoroughly, inexplicably stuck. Obsessed with 'making things good again', they spin the quiet terrors of family life into a fantastical frenzy that careens well and truly out of control. As A. M. Homes's incendiary novel unfolds, the Kodacolor hues of the American good life become nearly hallucino Paul and Elaine have two boys and a beautiful home, yet they find themselves thoroughly, inexplicably stuck. Obsessed with 'making things good again', they spin the quiet terrors of family life into a fantastical frenzy that careens well and truly out of control. As A. M. Homes's incendiary novel unfolds, the Kodacolor hues of the American good life become nearly hallucinogenic: from a strange and hilarious encounter on the floor of the pantry with a Stepford-wife neighbour, to a house-cleaning team in space suits, to a hostage situation at the school. Homes lays bare the foundations of marriage and family life, and creates characters outrageously flawed, deeply human and entirely believable.


Compare

Paul and Elaine have two boys and a beautiful home, yet they find themselves thoroughly, inexplicably stuck. Obsessed with 'making things good again', they spin the quiet terrors of family life into a fantastical frenzy that careens well and truly out of control. As A. M. Homes's incendiary novel unfolds, the Kodacolor hues of the American good life become nearly hallucino Paul and Elaine have two boys and a beautiful home, yet they find themselves thoroughly, inexplicably stuck. Obsessed with 'making things good again', they spin the quiet terrors of family life into a fantastical frenzy that careens well and truly out of control. As A. M. Homes's incendiary novel unfolds, the Kodacolor hues of the American good life become nearly hallucinogenic: from a strange and hilarious encounter on the floor of the pantry with a Stepford-wife neighbour, to a house-cleaning team in space suits, to a hostage situation at the school. Homes lays bare the foundations of marriage and family life, and creates characters outrageously flawed, deeply human and entirely believable.

30 review for Music for Torching

  1. 5 out of 5

    Snotchocheez

    My second shot with A.M. Homes' brand of familial dysfunction was much better than my first (the decidedly one-note short story collection Things You Should Know). This one, a particulary more ferocious novel Music for Torching is, at its finer moments, as good as anything written by a few of her East Coast-based Pulitzer-winning kings of dysfunction fiction predecessors (John Updike and John Cheever immediately come to mind), though refreshingly with a female-centric perspective. While I gene My second shot with A.M. Homes' brand of familial dysfunction was much better than my first (the decidedly one-note short story collection Things You Should Know). This one, a particulary more ferocious novel Music for Torching is, at its finer moments, as good as anything written by a few of her East Coast-based Pulitzer-winning kings of dysfunction fiction predecessors (John Updike and John Cheever immediately come to mind), though refreshingly with a female-centric perspective. While I generally loathe books that feature relationships wracked by infidelity (c'mon authors, there are other ways of portraying familial dysfunction without racing to the obvious) there's something with this couple, Paul and Elaine, that beg a little deeper examination. White Plains NY-adjacent, 2.3 children-bearing Paul and Elaine are utterly average, the perfect middle class, cocktail- and dinner-party-throwing paradigm,, but are completely bankrupt in feelings for each other. (Ok, that's not true: they despise each other. Elaine hates Paul for his all but overt line-up of neighborhood vajayjay, Paul hates Elaine for moralizing and overall bitchitude). They ate completely stymied and seemingly running headlong into divorce-land when they come up with the ridiculously bizarre idea to shake up the marital stasis: burn the house down while barbecuing. Paul and Elaine are loathsome creatures (Paul, of course, quite a bit more loathsome than Elaine), but Ms. Homes gives them just enough humanity that you actually care they are trying something, anything to save their marriage, even as it becomes increasingly clear their actions are futile. This book just about got 4 stars from me, but the ending (which ordinarily I'd applaud for depicting karmic comeuppance for characters behaving badly, was just too WTF, too ugh-eliciting to embrace. Still (not counting the crud ending) Ms. Homes travels down a well-beaten path that I rarely enjoy traveling down, and succeeded in keeping me in it to the end.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Makenzie Schultz

    I'm really torn in my opinion of this book. As more time goes by since I've finished it, as I think about it more, I like it better than I did when I had first finished it. When I first finished this book I was absolutely shocked by the outcome, I put the book down and was incredibly confused, and really upset. But I knew that I didn't dislike the book, I hadn't been able to put it down. A.M. Homes' style of writing is mesmerizing, and the characters are all just so terrible and so lifelike in t I'm really torn in my opinion of this book. As more time goes by since I've finished it, as I think about it more, I like it better than I did when I had first finished it. When I first finished this book I was absolutely shocked by the outcome, I put the book down and was incredibly confused, and really upset. But I knew that I didn't dislike the book, I hadn't been able to put it down. A.M. Homes' style of writing is mesmerizing, and the characters are all just so terrible and so lifelike in their bad qualities, everything is so descriptive and real. I had really liked the book throughout reading it. It was only in the last few pages that my opinion started to turn, the ending didn't feel like it fit in this book. Even though, looking back, there were some hints that something might happen, some event at least similar in intensity to what happened. But nothing felt wrapped up to me, and I don't mean to say that every book needs a clear and concise ending, but when I say that nothing felt wrapped up I really mean that absolutely nothing was finished when the book ended. So I'm torn. Throughout the majority of reading I liked the book, and then I was really upset by the ending. I feel like it needed more, like the characters need to learn from the ending rather than having the book finish in the middle of the events. I'd like to read more about these characters, to see if this event changed them in any way like nothing else seemed to.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mulligan

    Delightfully devastating. With this book, A.M. Homes paints a haunting picture of suburbia. The main characters, Paul and Elaine, have managed to keep up with the Joneses in their seemingly perfect suburban town, but their lovely house, friendly neighbors and two boys have left them with a life filled with boredom and despair. They want to make things good again in their lives, yet are caught in a shame spiral that begins with a failed attempt to burn down their house and ends with a hostage sit Delightfully devastating. With this book, A.M. Homes paints a haunting picture of suburbia. The main characters, Paul and Elaine, have managed to keep up with the Joneses in their seemingly perfect suburban town, but their lovely house, friendly neighbors and two boys have left them with a life filled with boredom and despair. They want to make things good again in their lives, yet are caught in a shame spiral that begins with a failed attempt to burn down their house and ends with a hostage situation. Homes does a terrific job of creating painfully honest characters with terribly unfortunate lives to whom the reader can actually relate. Both the writing and plot entertain throughout and make you never want to set foot in a cul-de-sac again.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Auguste

    Few writers are as incisive and savagely funny as Homes when it comes to dissecting that dysfunctional beast that is family. I just love her. Η τύπισσα πρέπει να μεταφραστεί στα ελληνικά ΧΤΕΣ. Είναι απόλαυση σκέτη.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Tammy

    It was very difficult for me to assign a rating to this book. On one hand - it is very well written. That is usually enough to earn 4 stars from me. I do love a well-turned phrase. On the other hand - it was very difficult to read. The characters - straight across the board - are very unlikeable. It was hard for me to care about what happened to them. To make matters worse, every now and then I would see a little glimpse of myself or of other people I love. Never enough to make me think that I - o It was very difficult for me to assign a rating to this book. On one hand - it is very well written. That is usually enough to earn 4 stars from me. I do love a well-turned phrase. On the other hand - it was very difficult to read. The characters - straight across the board - are very unlikeable. It was hard for me to care about what happened to them. To make matters worse, every now and then I would see a little glimpse of myself or of other people I love. Never enough to make me think that I - or they - was/were 'just like' that character - far from it - but enough to make me uncomfortable. Uncomfortable. That is the one word I would choose if I had to write a one-word review. The story revolves around a suburban couple in their 40's. Dissatisfaction with their lives prompts them to make a rash decision which sets the events of the rest of the book in motion. Said events are over the top, but only just slightly so - making it not exactly realistic, but not exactly madly fantastic, either. Without spoiling anything, the ending is shocking - and worse than even these unlikeable characters deserve.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia

    I'm only saying this was 'okay' because the book was well written and there were the odd amusing moments. I didn't enjoy the story; it was basically a series of "poor me" moments that culminated in an event that I thought was awful and unnecessary. I didn't enjoy the characters, again because they were all so pre-occupied with feeling sorry for themselves, despite their largely cushy lives. The characters are awful to themselves and to each other. I realise that this is the point of the book - t I'm only saying this was 'okay' because the book was well written and there were the odd amusing moments. I didn't enjoy the story; it was basically a series of "poor me" moments that culminated in an event that I thought was awful and unnecessary. I didn't enjoy the characters, again because they were all so pre-occupied with feeling sorry for themselves, despite their largely cushy lives. The characters are awful to themselves and to each other. I realise that this is the point of the book - that the lives of those who have supposedly achieved the American dream are not perfect - but the book explores the theme in a really obvious, annoying and gratuitous way.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    I hated this book and everyone in it. If it wasn't for a class I wouldn't have finished it. When I was done reading it I literally threw it at the wall. I will never be able to hurt that book the way it hurt me.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Smith

    OH MY GOD is exactly what I said to my empty living room when I finished reading this novel by A.M. Homes. After Revolutionary Road and Little Children this is the third successive novel i've read dealing with suburban life in America. Paul and Elaine this time are the unhappy couple and a little bit crazy, certainly depressed, completely selfish, mostly unlikeable and somehow and i've no idea how but Homes makes you care about these two strangely believable characters. The story starts when the OH MY GOD is exactly what I said to my empty living room when I finished reading this novel by A.M. Homes. After Revolutionary Road and Little Children this is the third successive novel i've read dealing with suburban life in America. Paul and Elaine this time are the unhappy couple and a little bit crazy, certainly depressed, completely selfish, mostly unlikeable and somehow and i've no idea how but Homes makes you care about these two strangely believable characters. The story starts when they burn down their house on a whim, seemingly just for the craic by kicking over the barbeque. The house isn't completely destroyed just some superficial damage and a hole in the dining room wall. They end up staying at Pat and Georges house, Pat being the stereotypical stepford housewife who isn't as most people aren't, all that she seems (it is very funny and very weird when that little plot thread comes to a head) and their two kids Sammy and Daniel are shipped off to two friends house (Sammy staying with Nate the son of Mrs Apple, one of the women Paul is having an affair with, and Daniel with the Meaders who are the traditionally normal family but seem kind of odd against the cacophony of strange characters we meet). The rest of the story then deals with this anything but normal family attempting to get back to normal, to rebuild and improve their house and well lives too. I think this novel is about how people are never who they portray on the surface and that really everyone is a little bit crazy but even if it's about nothing but an entertaining story then that's more than enough. Homes writes the kind of things other people are afraid to say out loud and she writes it well. I have a sad little confession, when I read a book I write down the sentences/quotes I particularly like. I couldn't do that with this novel, because I pretty much particularly liked every line in it. It's very funny, it's very dark, it's very twisted and it's very excellent. It may not be to everyones liking however, I imagine a good barometer would be if you like American Beauty then this you will love. Finally, I wished more books had endings like this one, she's some writer. If the one advantage of being dark and twisty is getting to love novels like this then I say embrace the dark and twisty, it's occasionally worth it.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Theacrob

    Just started. Not sure if it's great literature or total crap. Update. Total crap CONFIRMED. This book is desperate to be Delillo's White Noise, but it fails with such misery that I'm surprised I haven't gouged out my eyes and accidently had lesibian intercourse. Not necessarily in that order. Take my advise and read White Noise if you are looking for modern Americana.

  10. 5 out of 5

    M

    I can't in good conscience give this fewer than three stars, because it held my attention, was at times strikingly funny and/or insightful, and was a definite show of talent - but so many times I wanted to throw it across the room and/or give it one star, so, I am settling for three with misgivings. Let's start by saying that I am a realist. I like my fiction as unfictiony as possible. What I can't handle is fiction via fun house mirrors, ie, scenarios and people so outlandish they cannot be real I can't in good conscience give this fewer than three stars, because it held my attention, was at times strikingly funny and/or insightful, and was a definite show of talent - but so many times I wanted to throw it across the room and/or give it one star, so, I am settling for three with misgivings. Let's start by saying that I am a realist. I like my fiction as unfictiony as possible. What I can't handle is fiction via fun house mirrors, ie, scenarios and people so outlandish they cannot be real or relatable yet the storyline and overall writing is acting as if it's real. Sort of like watching the Simpsons (which I love) but with real people, not cartoons. Suddenly, not so funny anymore. MFT takes on the ever popular and painfully cliched topic of Les Suburbs, seemingly nice families and homes that are riddled with unrest, affairs, and quiet desperation. This is suburbs on crack, and everyone is beyond the realm of real, be they too unlikable or too perfect or too troubled. Overall you feel like the characters (if not the author herself) are on crack and therefore nothing actually seems upsetting, or it's all upsetting, because it all falls short of seeming actual. The basic premise is a rather clever one - unhappy Elaine and Paul (who are always flirting with macabre in their unhappiness - we first meet them washing up in the kitchen, and Elaine holds a knife to Paul's neck and grazes it. Mm yup that is unhappy, certainly, and all the odder that it doesn't strike either of them as particularly worrisome, or change the tenor of their marriage) decide whilst barbecuing one early summer evening to tilt the grill (after pouring lighter fluid on the house) and have the whole thing burn down. I like this as a symbol - indeed, the houses we build are often traps and represent our own undoing - but the book split off in to too many odd parts after that, so that even if you could go along for the ride (and admittedly this is difficult for me, as Homes seems to want me to feel bad for people who seem to only feel bad for themselves, and anyway they all seem like morbid puppets so why should I care??) there are too many twists and turns to really stay with you as a story. So, anyway, they burn the house, but instead of feeling better they end up further messing up their marriage and children and whatever else. I wonder about the following. First, is there a value to shock value, by which I mean, so many times I hear, "This was disturbing" or "This evoked a strong reaction so s/he gets credit for that" and I wonder if this is really true, like, is Homes a celebrated writer because she can really gross me out and perplex me with her unfeeling and mildly creepy characters? But shouldn't I like the people, or care, or root for them? I mean, what is talent? Is it making you feel, period, or is it making you feel something you like feeling? The other thing is, this book made me reflect on the writers I love, specifically John Irving. What I love about John Irving, aside from his wit and literary prowess and beautiful language and you know everything else, is that he presents a fascinating world that is ALMOST entirely real except when it isn't. He gives us a slanted world that is quirky and strange yet oddly believable. Well, doesn't Homes do that, and yet Homes kind of disgusts me while John Irving makes me happy to be literate. So I guess it's not just the ability to "tell the truth but tell it slant" as much as it's... I don't know, still having something pulsing in your story that is human, rather than destroying everything that is? Or something? This review (such as it is - thank you, Homes) would not be complete without saying what the bleep to the ending. Yeah. Really. What was that??? So if nothing else grabbed you, that ought to at least make you curious. I know I read through to the end in small part because of that.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nico Blackheart

    I saw this book on a recommendation list and figured I would give it a try since I like quirky dark humor in the spirit of Running With Scissors. Homes' style is dry, witty, and leaves nothing to the imagination. Where most other authors in this genre of starkly depressing humor use flowery language to skirt around the issues presented, Homes uses very simple English to get her points across, and most of the time it makes for a refreshingly human read with minimal pretense. Despite the fact that I saw this book on a recommendation list and figured I would give it a try since I like quirky dark humor in the spirit of Running With Scissors. Homes' style is dry, witty, and leaves nothing to the imagination. Where most other authors in this genre of starkly depressing humor use flowery language to skirt around the issues presented, Homes uses very simple English to get her points across, and most of the time it makes for a refreshingly human read with minimal pretense. Despite the fact that not much actually happens in the book, it's fast paced and constantly keeps you wondering just what will happen next. This is very "slice of life". It's simply a series of terrible events in a family's life that aren't too far fetched from things that could really happen. A few scenes are over the top and definitely reserved for fiction, but overall this is a believable and touching book, even when it's crass and disturbing. The ending leaves more to be desired, it's left on an uncomfortable cliffhanger, but so are many moments in real life. In real life no one's story is wrapped up happily at the end to make up for all the bad, so I guess the omission of an epilogue works for Music For Torching. (view spoiler)[The last chapter kills off the most innocent and lovable character of the book, which in itself is devastating, on top of all the other constant twists and turns. (hide spoiler)] I'll give Homes the benefit of the doubt, not everything in life is picture perfect, despite how we all try. This is especially evident in the character Pat, someone striving for perfection who ends up losing herself to her pent up desires before the eyes of the dysfunctional family she's taken into her home after the "accidental" fire that sets up the events of the book. I'd recommend it to others who are fans of the likes of Augusten Burroughs and David Sedaris. It's a bit less poetic and sentimental than the works of those authors, but what it lacks in verbose language it makes up for in gritty relatable honesty.

  12. 5 out of 5

    julieta

    Wow! What a book! it's intense, and crazy, like a night out with non stop action and crazyness going around. It doeasn't give you much hope in marriage or suburban life, but it is very very fun! I love A.M Homes!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Pablo Guzmán

    A wild ride through the dark anxieties of a suburban family. Elaine and Paul, wife and husband, think they hit rock bottom. They’re stuck. They can’t get out of the hole their life has become. So they set their house on fire, take the kids, and spent the night in a motel room. The first chapter of this book was published as a short story in The New Yorker. It does feel like a very good story, to be honest. But the aftermath, how they navigate through this second chance they have, is just as thri A wild ride through the dark anxieties of a suburban family. Elaine and Paul, wife and husband, think they hit rock bottom. They’re stuck. They can’t get out of the hole their life has become. So they set their house on fire, take the kids, and spent the night in a motel room. The first chapter of this book was published as a short story in The New Yorker. It does feel like a very good story, to be honest. But the aftermath, how they navigate through this second chance they have, is just as thrilling and engaging. It’s not a satisfying read though. There are epiphanies, but no so much character development. And it’s supposed to be like that. AM Homes purposely portrays the emptiness, the depression, the inertia of modern American life. What do you after you’ve reached the ideal of adult life? A great house, a good job, a loving family. Are we, or in this case, the characters, suppose to ask for something else? The author also dismantles other aspects of the American way of life: bullying, school shootings, insurance companies, and the river of secrets and compulsions that runs behind the perfect suburban facade. Sounds heavy, but Music for torching is a comedy. A savagely funny and sharply written one.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Robin Umbley

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. I found this book at the airport; concerned, I had the owner paged and when she arrived at the gate she said that she had intentionally left the book on a chair because she thought it was a horrible book and didn't want it and was leaving it for someone who might. At that, I thought I might test her assessment for myself. My verdict: how could something so beautifully written be so dreadful? I agree with the person who willfully abandoned this book. It's horrible. Elaine and Paul, a married coup I found this book at the airport; concerned, I had the owner paged and when she arrived at the gate she said that she had intentionally left the book on a chair because she thought it was a horrible book and didn't want it and was leaving it for someone who might. At that, I thought I might test her assessment for myself. My verdict: how could something so beautifully written be so dreadful? I agree with the person who willfully abandoned this book. It's horrible. Elaine and Paul, a married couple with children are bored with each other and their lives. It's no wonder because they are utterly vapid, uninteresting, and mind-bogglingly lacking in self-awareness. They are the most unsympathetic protagonists I've ever encountered in a novel. I wanted to slap them for their continuous stupidity and lack of backbone. Toward the end, the two of them sort of come to their senses but I never cared if they did. The ending, while suspenseful, makes no sense. We never know if Elaine and Paul resolve their issues with each other. There are some same-sex dalliances or wanna be dalliances with both of them and I spent the book wanting them to each go off with their respective same sex flames: for Elaine to end up with Pat and for Paul to end up with his college buddy because it seems that underneath it all, they prefer relations with their respective genders. The problem is tha they are lacking in the self-awareness to even understand that. Yeah, suburban conformity has always been a nightmare. This is no revelation. And I'm no prude but the ridiculous abundance of gratuitous sex seemed pulled right out of a reality show like some incarnation of the "Real Housewives" franchise. And the ending seems like "Real Housewives of Westchester County go to Sandy Hook." The juxtaposition is just bizarre. I'm sure there are lots of upper middle class conformist people like Paul and Elaine in suburbia who, for whatever reason, make a life for themselves in this style because they think they should, not because it suits them. Was this written for people like them? I don't know who the target audience is. It isn't me, that's for sure. I gave it two stars up from one because it IS well-written. But I think I may put the book back in the airport. It's wasting space on my shelf.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kusaimamekirai

    This is my first book of 2017 and I can't imagine anything that follows it will be quite the same. This is the story of Paul and Elaine. They are profoundly and irreparably unhappy with just about every facet of their lives. Early in the story they are BBQing in their backyard yard when they decide to spray their house with lighter fluid, tip the grill over, and torch their house. They have no reason or overriding goal other than simple and complete nihilism. That their house doesn't actually b This is my first book of 2017 and I can't imagine anything that follows it will be quite the same. This is the story of Paul and Elaine. They are profoundly and irreparably unhappy with just about every facet of their lives. Early in the story they are BBQing in their backyard yard when they decide to spray their house with lighter fluid, tip the grill over, and torch their house. They have no reason or overriding goal other than simple and complete nihilism. That their house doesn't actually burn is a metaphor for everything else that is incomplete and unfinished in their lives. What it does accomplish however is a setting in motion of profound consequences and misery. As you can guess, this is a pretty dark story. One of the darker books I've read in a long time(and I like dark stories). I was struck in particular by just how miserable these characters are and how hopeless they feel. They are extremely unloveable human beings and yet one can't help feeling sympathy for them. As Elaine says to Paul, "we're all we have, and we're not enough". That is truly who these characters are. Alone even in the presence of each other.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Edmole

    I have been rewatching the Sopranos from the start. Like the Sopranos, this is a study of selfish kids of baby boomers who have themselves had kids who are now caught in the maelstrom of their indulgent selfishness. AM Homes first novel, Jack, is dark but hopeful, as are her last two, May We Be Forgiven and This Book Will Save Your Life. But there's no hope in this book. These are people who have everything they need and do most of what they want and don't enjoy it and don't know what to do with I have been rewatching the Sopranos from the start. Like the Sopranos, this is a study of selfish kids of baby boomers who have themselves had kids who are now caught in the maelstrom of their indulgent selfishness. AM Homes first novel, Jack, is dark but hopeful, as are her last two, May We Be Forgiven and This Book Will Save Your Life. But there's no hope in this book. These are people who have everything they need and do most of what they want and don't enjoy it and don't know what to do with it. It's a very well written book, but I didn't enjoy living with the people in it. In the Sopranos there's charm and gags to alleviate the horror of people's true selves. Nothing here. Quick tip. I bought this for the mother of a one year old without reading it on the strength of how much I like AM Homes. It was not a good book for the mother of a one year old to read. It's not David Peace exactly, but don't read it if you're not 100%. Ed

  17. 4 out of 5

    Peggy

    Okay, I was cleaning out my bookcases and this book was shelved as though it had been read. I read the synopsis and had no memory of this book. I started reading the opening pages, sure it would come back to me. Fifty pages in, I'm totally hooked and very sure that I had not ever actually read it. That was at maybe 5-something pm. I just finished it in one marathon read and am blown away and ready to order everything else she's written. To recount the plot makes it sound like every late 20th cen Okay, I was cleaning out my bookcases and this book was shelved as though it had been read. I read the synopsis and had no memory of this book. I started reading the opening pages, sure it would come back to me. Fifty pages in, I'm totally hooked and very sure that I had not ever actually read it. That was at maybe 5-something pm. I just finished it in one marathon read and am blown away and ready to order everything else she's written. To recount the plot makes it sound like every late 20th century suburban midlife crisis piece of crap ever written. Let me say unequivocally: it is original and a bit hysterical and otherworldly in a worldly way. In short, its own amazing thing with an ending that drops you off so abruptly you will actually blink your eyes. At least I did.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mike Polizzi

    (2.5) Today's suburban dweller is a different type of beast. One can read Homes' account of the Weiss family and find the heartbreaks and frustrations rendered by Cheever, Updike and Yates ghosted over with a dash of Delillo. The characters totter on the edge of chaos. An apt portrait of the thrill seeking, self gratifying set. Written in clean and crisp sentences with episodic momentum, the novel has the feeling of a vaguely entertaining TV show: distanced, cool, impeccable. No place for traged (2.5) Today's suburban dweller is a different type of beast. One can read Homes' account of the Weiss family and find the heartbreaks and frustrations rendered by Cheever, Updike and Yates ghosted over with a dash of Delillo. The characters totter on the edge of chaos. An apt portrait of the thrill seeking, self gratifying set. Written in clean and crisp sentences with episodic momentum, the novel has the feeling of a vaguely entertaining TV show: distanced, cool, impeccable. No place for tragedy, no place for outrage, things simply are.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mizah

    I had to force myself to finish this almost plot-less book. There is no clear sense of time- for all those affairs and drama to happen in the span of one week, I mean really?! Everything was just so unexpected and crazy that eventually crazy became normal. And it's disturbing on so many levels, though I'm sure it somewhat reflects the problems of suburban Americans and the flaws of the American Dream. The only character that I genuinely cared for is the one that Homes killed.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Valerie Lavoie

    One of the worst books I've ever read. If a book could be written in a minor key, this would be the result. This could be beautiful, but there's no character development, the editing is disappointing with inconsistent details all over the place, and the ending? The ending is ridiculous - it's as if the author came up against deadline and needed to end it. I wish I would have bailed on this book in the first chapter, like I'd originally wanted.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Anna

    Three thoughts: 1. How do these people have so much sex? 2. The feeling of ennui, and floating through your life--well, I only wish AM Homes could have given a way of fixing it, instead of just capturing it so well. 3. *Do Not Read* if you are thinking about pursuing the stereotypical suburban lifestyle...and have an inkling of a reservation about it.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Katie Mansfield

    I'm speechless. The ending... WHAT?! I loved the book almost the entire way through. A.M. Homes has a writing style I really appreciate and enjoy. But the ending! How could she do that? I can't decide if I want to cry or burn my book in the Weiss Family barbeque.

  23. 4 out of 5

    William Dale

    This book holds up! Love it!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    After being rather disappointed with May We Be Forgiven, I actually enjoyed Music for Torching, although I wasn't overjoyed with it. Again, I can tell that Homes really, really likes Don DeLillo, and also makes several trips into Richard Yates country. After all, it starts with two sudden acts of random violence in a posh New York suburb, and goes on ad nauseam through extramarital affairs, accidental lesbianism, insurance fraud, and so forth. Is it at the caliber of Yates or Cheever or Updike w After being rather disappointed with May We Be Forgiven, I actually enjoyed Music for Torching, although I wasn't overjoyed with it. Again, I can tell that Homes really, really likes Don DeLillo, and also makes several trips into Richard Yates country. After all, it starts with two sudden acts of random violence in a posh New York suburb, and goes on ad nauseam through extramarital affairs, accidental lesbianism, insurance fraud, and so forth. Is it at the caliber of Yates or Cheever or Updike writing about these same things? Or is the style at the same level as DeLillo's? No and no. Is it still a worthy distraction? I suppose.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Paula

    I wanted to like this book so hard after falling in love with Homes' "May We Be Forgiven" but I just couldn't. Every character was just so easy to hate, and the writing fell flat to me compared to some of her other work.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Kirstie

    I just didn’t get this book at all. Not my kind of thing. American dark humour Don’t bother with it

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jerry Balzano

    Shocking, entertaining, disturbing. About a 4.1. I'd consider a higher rating, except that I did feel "manipulated" by the author. Which of course one always is ... but one doesn't wish to FEEL that way.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Renee

    Sadly, this book was gravely under-whelming. I expected more from the brilliant mind that produced The End Of Alice. Then again, maybe one cannot live up to such a book? This was like American Beauty (the movie) on crack. Everything was haphazard, random, dysfunctional - are people really like this? The ending was completely unexpected, although, when I think about it... the only ending I could really see was some type of destruction. What was the point of this book? What did I come away with? An Sadly, this book was gravely under-whelming. I expected more from the brilliant mind that produced The End Of Alice. Then again, maybe one cannot live up to such a book? This was like American Beauty (the movie) on crack. Everything was haphazard, random, dysfunctional - are people really like this? The ending was completely unexpected, although, when I think about it... the only ending I could really see was some type of destruction. What was the point of this book? What did I come away with? An aversion to the cracked out suburbs? Was there a message? I think not. I think the author liked American Beauty a little too much and decided to try her own hand at it. I cannot even decide who I hate more, Elaine, Paul, the extended suburban friends? Every single person in this book was clueless, selfish, emotionally manipulative, dysfunctional, and incapable to true meaningful relationships. And, all of this led no where. I can see tragic relationships that teach something. Or some type of beauty in a certain neurosis... but, not here. It failed to hit any of those notes. Bummer.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Polly James

    I have NO idea what rating to give this book. On the one hand, it's beautifully written, in A M Homes' characteristically-introspective tone, (and with her trademark flashes of black humour) but on the other, it's probably the most depressing book I've ever read – and so I hated it. I've loved most of A M Homes' other books, especially "May We Be Forgiven" and "This Book Will Save Your Life", but while both the latter and "Music for Torching" could be said to carry the same overall message about I have NO idea what rating to give this book. On the one hand, it's beautifully written, in A M Homes' characteristically-introspective tone, (and with her trademark flashes of black humour) but on the other, it's probably the most depressing book I've ever read – and so I hated it. I've loved most of A M Homes' other books, especially "May We Be Forgiven" and "This Book Will Save Your Life", but while both the latter and "Music for Torching" could be said to carry the same overall message about the importance of living (rather than just enduring) your life, "Music for Torching" makes you feel that any effort you made to to do so would ultimately be so pointless that you might just as well hang yourself instead. In short, on the quality of the writing and the characterisation, this book deserves four stars at least, but as to whether I enjoyed it or not? 2 stars, and that's being generous. If you must read it, then do follow it immediately with "This Book Will Save Your Life" to cheer you up a bit – and if you've never read any of A M Homes work before, then for God's sake, don't start here.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Cashman

    In Thoreau's day, people led lives of quiet desperation. There is nothing quiet here. (p. 93) "Should I call what's-her-name?" Elaine turns to Sammy. "What's Nate's mother's name?" "Mom?" Sammy says. Daniel hits him. "Butt plug." "Help me, what's her name?" Elaine asks Paul. Nope, nothing quiet here. (p. 189) Paul notices that the color of her eye shadow is Fiction, her lipstick is called Sheer Fraud. (p. 195) "'If nothing else, it seems like the one thing we do well—we fight and we c**k. That's how we In Thoreau's day, people led lives of quiet desperation. There is nothing quiet here. (p. 93) "Should I call what's-her-name?" Elaine turns to Sammy. "What's Nate's mother's name?" "Mom?" Sammy says. Daniel hits him. "Butt plug." "Help me, what's her name?" Elaine asks Paul. Nope, nothing quiet here. (p. 189) Paul notices that the color of her eye shadow is Fiction, her lipstick is called Sheer Fraud. (p. 195) "'If nothing else, it seems like the one thing we do well—we fight and we c**k. That's how we know we're still married.'" Ay-up. Rather desperate. There are some great scenes, vignettes, lines. As others have written, the ending is inconclusive on several levels. I finished this book and thought: wow, this author is a good writer but one sick puppy. Oddly, this inspires a different reaction in me from John Waters' "Serial Mom" - both critiques of suburbia, both pointed and witty. Maybe there is a certain absence of affect in Homes' novel which I find leads me to a "flat" reading of it?

Add a review

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Loading...
We use cookies to give you the best online experience. By using our website you agree to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy.