The BookBrowse Review

Published June 22, 2022

ISSN: 1930-0018

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Book Jacket

by Rebecca Miller
12 Jul 2022
192 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux
Genre: Short Stories
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Rebecca Miller returns to short fiction for the first time since her collection of stories, Personal Velocity, with the arresting, darkly prescient Total.

But to get back to my subject. Of the little moment when I went the wrong way, from promising young woman to flotsam, to extraneousness―like the strands that rub off a ribbon and that you cut away.

Each of the seven stories in Total is a full world, painted with vivid strokes, one whose people and questions stay with the reader long after the story has ended and the book has been closed. Joad, one of the first characters we meet, finds onionskin pages crammed in a locked desk drawer while refurbishing a Hudson Valley farmhouse with her husband; the terrifying words on the fragile paper haunt Joad and their home, the woman who wrote them looming over them like a malevolent spirit. Innate in her words is the power of the act of creation and the ability of language to link people across time.

Rebecca Miller, the author of The Private Lives of Pippa Lee and Jacob's Folly, returns to short fiction for the first time since her beloved collection of stories, Personal Velocity. The author and award-winning filmmaker has "the soaring eye of the epicist and the sly instinct of the satirist" (The New Yorker), and her talents are on full display in Total. From Dublin to Martha's Vineyard, from the comforting mundanities of motherhood to a technologically infected near future that mirrors our present with dark prescience, each voice and life captured in this collection is utterly unforgettable.

"Seven stories focus on the many guises of obsessive (though not particularly sexual or romantic) love, and Miller's tone is disarmingly matter-of-fact throughout...A beautifully constructed, acutely felt, morally honest collection." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Slim but powerful...Author and filmmaker Miller (Jacob's Folly, 2013) adeptly encapsulates these women's experiences." - Booklist (starred review)

"In Miller's alluring collection (after the novel Jacob's Folly), protagonists search for connection and pleasure in strange, sometimes destructive ways...Miller brings a cinematic eye to her descriptions (a parking garage's "final floor" offers a "vivid sky") and plenty of drama to the situations. These stories are full of surprises." - Publishers Weekly

"Miller's new collection shows her in many moods and modes, from wistful to comedic to speculative. What a pleasure!" - Jeffrey Eugenides, author of Fresh Complaint

Rebecca Miller is the author of the short-story collection Personal Velocity, her feature-film adaptation of which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance, and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (FSG, 2008), which she also adapted for the screen. She lives in New York and Ireland with her family.

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