Music for Torching Background

Music for Torching Background

AM Homes is an American novelist born on December 18, 1961 in Washington, DC. After graduating high school, she attended Sarah Lawrence College and later earned her MFA at the University of Iowa. She started her literary career by writing short stories, which were published in The New Yorker, BOMB Magazine, McSweeney’s, and Granta. Homes’ first novel entitled Jack was released in 1989 and deals with themes of repressed sexuality. She went on to write many more books, one of which is Music for Torching.

Music for Torching tells the story of Paul and Elaine, a typical suburban couple who attempt to reject the monotony of their lives by acting in self-destructive ways. In the first chapter, they set fire to their house due to the intense boredom of their everyday routines. Throughout the novel, Paul and Elaine fall into a frenzy of trying to live in the most thrilling manner possible.

When it was published in 1999, Music for Torching received great praise and acclaim from critics and audiences. It dealt with a very common theme of family dysfunction in suburbia, but Homes tells it in such a way that is refreshing for audiences. As Publishers Weekly states, “The dark underbelly of the average American neighborhood may seem an obvious theme, and Homes's vision of marital dysfunction is long on sardonic humor and short on profundity. But the denouement to which this disquieting tale carefully builds is powerful enough to seem coextensive with the latest, and most distressing, real-life suburban horrors.”

Since Music for Torching, Homes has published two other novels, This Book Will Save Your Life (2006) and May We Be Forgiven (2012). She now lives in New York City and has taught creative writing workshops at various schools, including Columbia University, New York University, and The New School.

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