Miller is cognizant of the complexity that can still breathe inside familiar stories. She helps us reconsider their elasticity, to see from different angles how they pulse with life ... Miller dips into the otherworldly, though as with most dystopias we’re offered these days, the world feels close enough to ours ... The stories hew closely to the psyches of their characters, a confessional first person or close third that sometimes roves, and it’s in this proximity that Miller lets us see the nuances of these lives ... Miller has an incredible dexterity in the deployment of individual histories: a whole list of love affairs, past losses, leaps in time, delivered efficiently and effectively within the larger narratives ... This, more broadly, is the accomplishment of this collection. You’ve read stories of this ilk before, but Miller knows and is playing with the ways that familiarity is also comfort, also proof of all the ways stories and lives infinitely repeat. You’ve never quite seen them inhabited by these versions of these characters, nor at the tenor of these sentences, with these deftly deployed layers of surprise.
The protagonists in this slim but powerful short story collection are almost exclusively female: adolescent girls on the cusp of womanhood, daughters of difficult mothers, young women navigating complicated romantic and professional relationships, and mothers consumed with and feeling consumed by their children...Author and filmmaker Miller adeptly encapsulates these women’s experiences.
The protagonists are mostly women, privileged, if not necessarily wealthy, members of the liberal elite...Their passion often centers around children...The opener, 'Mrs. Covet,' concerns Daphne, an overwhelmed mother of three, one a newborn, who feels ambivalent about her new nanny; threatened by the nanny’s competence, Daphne also luxuriates in her novel freedom from parental responsibility until a crisis awakens her fierce maternal protectiveness...The mother in 'Vapors' is taking her 2-year-old for a walk when she runs into an old lover...When a teenager decides to rescue her younger sister from the institution where their well-meaning, quietly distraught parents have placed her, her plans go awry, but the telling is more sweet than bitter...There's family tragedy, comic class conflict, and an unexpected offer of money...A beautifully constructed, acutely felt, morally honest collection.
In Miller’s alluring collection, protagonists search for connection and pleasure in strange, sometimes destructive ways...Daphne in 'Mrs. Covet' is a mother of two, pregnant with a third...The family hires a cleaning lady named Nat, hoping for some order, but after Nat moves in, something disastrous happens...In the speculative title story, people have transcendent phone sex on devices called Total Phones, and the force field of an early version of the phone leads to birth defects... 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.