September 01, 1997 12:00 PM

by John Thorne

Do keyholes wink at you? Does the coat tree wave goodbye? Home Body is a book for domestic dreamers, for anyone who likes to stare and stare at the familiar until it turns strange. A pocket-size anatomy of the home from cellar to attic, served up in 20 quick, quirky reveries, Thorne’s whimsical book transforms the ordinary household into an enchanted landscape crowded with odd and wonderful objects we once knew as stove, sink or chest of drawers.

Thorne’s mini-essays are personal and eccentric. He likens chairs to dogs—they “wish only to please”—and beds to horses: “A mattress on a floor is only a pad; lifted up and set on legs, it becomes a body: taut, muscular, supple.” In a flight of fancy, the bathtub becomes a sailboat (think of the shower curtain as the sail). He calls the mirror the precursor of the telephone, radio and television, all devices that give the illusion of company when we’re really on our own. In one of Thome’s most ingenious turns, he compares doorways and stairways—both of them, he reminds us, “frame the border between those countries we call rooms.” There are home truths here, in odd disguises. (Ecco, $15)

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