I'm obsessed with A. M. Homes. I have a compulsive need to read her work like a music geek, devouring everything I can get my hands on. I had a similar thing with Dennis Cooper a few years back, though his style eventually grossed me out after a while... The start of my Homes addiction was The End of Alice. It's a bleak book, and one of the best I've ever read. To begin to describe it will start to ruin it, as I was handed it by a friend (one who I trust as he introduced me to A Home At The End of The World) with the simple words 'I think you'll like this'. No explanation. I was swept up by it in the way you might casually stumble into the road and be swept up by an oncoming truck.
I've yet to hit the same perfect high as The End of Alice - possibly because it was how I lost my Homes virginity - but May We Be Forgiven has come pretty close with a few heart-stopping, book-dropping moments of shock. This Book Will Save Your Life left me very cold, but I've savoured her short stories in short, selfish sittings. I still think of a chubby girl masturbating in her back garden when we have humid weather and I can feel sweat on my skin.
Music For Torching hits the right spot with an opening mix of the brutal and banal, that toxic combination of ennui, resentment and underlying violence that fascinates me as a reader. She paints tragic, pathetic lives made brave through self awareness and a kind of redemptive perversion. Sure, you can look from the outside and think how fucked up these characters are, but they have impulses and they act on them. They're miserable but they're also - if only momentarily - satisfied. There is an incredible (I don't want to throw in any spoilers) what-I'll-call 'sex scene' that had me howling on the top deck of the 253. It manages to capture all the inherent comedy of sex, all the rubbing, licking, sucking leading up to the sticky punchline.
I felt like I was having an affair when I read this book, snatching moments where I could; sitting outside my flat on the grass while a protagonist and her neighbour have sex, perched on a fire exit at work as someone else gets a tattoo, reading the final chapter in the bath. The ending takes a sudden, wide camera angle from the rest of the novel's suffocating claustrophobia, and makes it feel ripe for a cinematic interpretation. Thanks to a dependable, reliable source (wikipedia) it appears that most of her novels are in film development. I want Julianne Moore to play Elaine.