Rebecca Miller's Personal Velocity
offers a wry take on work, sex, and relationships in the lives of seven people in search of what it means to be a 21st-century woman. Sharp and intimate, these stories are a capsule wardrobe of contemporary American femininity, from off-the-peg urban identities prepackaged by a designer label to battered, homeless survivors whose lives are held together only by their own emotional stamina. Greta, a cookbook editor, dumps her husband for fame and pointy alligator flats; Louisa, an artist, squeezes out her lovers faster than paint from a tube; and pregnant Paula picks up a young hitchhiker on a rainy night.
Miller brings a clear and unsentimental eye to her characters, and pleasing brevity of style and compressed drama to her prose. Flawed and admirable, terrified and fearless, cavalier and overanxious by turns--the vagaries of personality are encompassed in this poised debut. Many a reader may catch a fleeting glimpse of her own contradictory reflections in Miller's intense snapshots of modern women. --Rachel Holmes, Amazon.co.uk
From Publishers Weekly
Reading this slim collection is a bit like watching the Lifetime channel with the sound off: recognizable character types are identifiable by their physical appearance and habitats and the dramas they play out are presented with little elucidation. In the seven sketches in this debut, contemporary women (and one girl) from various backgrounds tussle with work, relationships and identity. Representing the affluent are frustrated and insecure Julianne, married to a much older famous poet; troubled nine-year-old Nancy, who contends with a dissatisfied socialite mother and a father who barely notices her presence; and Greta, a young editor in New York whose newfound success is incompatible with her marriage. Then there is flaky artist Louisa, tumbling from one affair to the next; and Paula , pregnant and in denial, who tries to help a young hitchhiker on a rainy night. Rounding out the group is working-class Delia, an abused wife who relies on her sexuality, and Bryna, a farmer's wife who likes to imagine herself being interviewed for Redbook (and who has brief walk-ons as a cleaning woman in two of the other stories). Miller does know something about the people in these worlds (she is particularly tuned into the shorthand, insider chat of rich bohemians), but the affectless prose not to mention the author's penchant for describing her characters' breasts and buttocks doesn't allow for much character development or resolution, and often reads like flat reportage. Some grit and a few moments of poignancy are in evidence, but the collection provides little insight into the unique inner workings of seven very different women. Agent, Sarah Chalfant, the Wylie Agency. (Sept.)Forecast: Miller, a director and the daughter of Arthur Miller and photographer Inge Morath, received critical raves in 1996 for her indie film, Angela. Look for strong initial presence with a first printing of 35,000, a major ad campaign and 13-city author tour.
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