When it comes to family life and modern technology, the bizarre can run hand in hand with the mundane, especially if the family in question is rich. Take the Los Angeles house in ‘Hello Everybody’, one of the stories in A M Homes’s new collection. In a peculiar space called ‘the dent’ (I had to read the description twice to understand its configuration) there is an entertainment system that responds to a sensor worn by each member of the family. When Cheryl’s mother walks through the dent, ‘the channel on the television changes, the background music shifts, the lighting dims, Carole King begins to sing’. When she’s five feet away, ‘a quiet mechanical voice, like a small frog, says, “Revert, revert”’ and everything returns to the previous setting.
Cheryl’s bemused friend Walter wants to know what happens ‘if you’re all in the room at once’. Cheryl replies: ‘There’s a hierarchy of who tops who – oldest to youngest.’ Is this a real device or a satirical invention? The effect, a creepily clammy cosiness, is very Homes.