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Alongside his achievements in 20th-century drama, Miller (1915–2005) published four previous works of fiction. This collection brings together six pieces that appeared in magazines at the end of Miller's life; all, in their ways, celebrate redemption through love. The blocked, aging writer of "The Bare Manuscript" hires a flesh-and-muscle six-foot-tall model, hoping to tap into the sexual vigor of his early genius by inscribing new work directly onto her body; what unspools are the sad story of his marriage and tender memories of courtship. In "Beavers," a country homeowner is mesmerized by the astounding energy of the beavers that appear one day in his pond, and whose redundant work seems to parallel the futility of human effort, yet also to bravely mimic human emotion. "The Performance" finds the Jewish head of an American tap-dancing troupe, in Berlin just before WWII, invited to perform in front of Hitler himself. A 13-year-old boy's life is transformed by getting a new puppy, or rather, by his sexual initiation with the woman who gives him the dog in the opening "Bulldog," while in the closing title story, an older man discovers a couple making love on the beach, triggering a flood of recollection. Miller's late work showcases inimitable writing and precipitous depths of longing. (May)
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Arthur Miller was born in New York City in 1915 and studied at the University of Michigan. His plays include All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953), A View from the Bridge and A Memory of Two Mondays (1955), After the Fall (1963), Incident at Vichy (1964), The Price (1968), The Creation of the World and Other Business (1972) and The American Clock. He has also written two novels, Focus (1945), and The Misfits, which was filmed in 1960, and the text for In Russia (1969), Chinese Encounters (1979), and In the Country (1977), three books of photographs by his wife, Inge Morath. More recent works include a memoir, Timebends (1987), and the plays The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (1991), The Last Yankee (1993), Broken Glass (1993), which won the Olivier Award for Best Play of the London Season, and Mr. Peter's Connections (1998). His latest book is On Politics and the Art of Acting. Miller was granted with the 2001 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He has twice won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, and in 1949 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.