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Domestic Disturbance


Critics may call her work fearless, but she doesn’t see herself that way at all. “The problem with having an active imagination is that you end up living in fear,” she says. “Basically, I’m terrified all the time. When I was a child, I thought when you were 9, you died. I’m very aware of the fragility of things now, as I watch my parents get older and I have this little girl who I just adore.”

Although she concedes “there was nothing about my life that looked like what it should look like to decide you’re going to have a child,” she was determined to make it happen, through a difficult conception and two miscarriages. Then, two months from term, she fractured a disk in her back. She attended the premiere of the film made from her story collection The Safety of Objects in a wheelchair; that’s also how she got to her baby shower at the artist Laurie Simmons’s studio. (She lay on a sofa, tanked up on steroids, as the likes of Laurie Anderson and Sofia Coppola filed past, kneeling down to talk to her.) She says she has no memory of her daily conversations with Simmons, during which she spun the idea for a three-act puppet musical that Simmons is realizing as a 40-minute film starring Meryl Streep. (The Music of Regret makes its debut at the Museum of Modern Art on May 24.)

Homes’s work has rarely been comfortable or uplifting. This time, though, “I wanted to write a book that left people feeling better.”

Even now that she’s back on her feet, life with a child has been challenging, especially adjusting to a new level of intimacy. “I’m not somebody who’s good at being in relationships,” she admits. “It’s not something that comes naturally to me. I find relating to another person intensely exhausting—like, bone-marrow exhausting. I love having a child, but it’s hard.”

“Mommy, wake up!” her daughter will implore when she discovers Homes lost in thought. Motherhood has meant not only a recalibration of the amount of time the author can spend “in my own head” but also that she can’t go out every night anymore. Typically, she says, she falls asleep when her daughter does. “There goes the dinner, the opening. I wake up right around the after-party, check my e-mail, and go back under again. And I don’t really mind. The same party will be going on ten years from now.”


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