A few words about book's author
Sue Miller is the bestselling author of While I Was Gone, The Distinguished Guest, For Love, Family Pictures, Inventing the Abbotts, and The Good Mother. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Since her iconic first novel, The Good Mother in 1986, Sue Miller has distinguished herself as one of our most elegant and widely celebrated chroniclers of family life, with a singular gift for laying bare the interior lives of her characters. While not strictly speaking autobiographical, Millers fiction is, nonetheless, shaped by her experiences. Born into an academic and ecclesiastical family, she grew up in Chicagos Hyde Park and went to college at Harvard. She was married at 20 and held down a series of odd jobs until her son Ben was born in 1968. She separated from her first husband in 1971, subsequently divorced, and for 13 years was a single parent in Cambridge, Massachusetts, working in day care, taking in roomers, and writing whenever she could. In these early years, Millers productivity was directly proportional to her ability to win grants and fellowships. An endowment in 1979 allowed her to enroll in the Creative Writing Program at Boston University. A few of her stories were accepted for publication, and she began teaching in the Boston area. Two additional grants in the 1980s enabled her to concentrate on writing fulltime. Published in 1986, her first novel became an international bestseller. Since then, success has followed success. Two of Millers books (The Good Mother and Inventing the Abbots) have been made into feature films; her 1990 novel Family Pictures was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award; Oprah Winfrey selected While I Was Gone for her popular Book Club; and in 2004, a first foray into nonfiction — the poignant, intensely personal memoir The Story of My Father — was widely praised for its narrative eloquence and character dramatization. Miller is a distinguished practitioner of domestic fiction, a time-honored genre stretching back to Jane Austen, Henry James, and Leo Tolstoy and honed to perfection by such modern literary luminaries as John Updike, Flannery OConnor, and Richard Ford. A careful observer of quotidian detail, she stretches her novels across the canvas of home and hearth, creating extraordinary stories out of the quiet intimacies of marriage, family, and friendship. In an article written for the New York Times Writers on Writing series, she explains: For me everyday life in the hands of a fine writer seems ... charged with meaning. When I write, I want to bring a sense of that charge, that meaning, to what may fairly be called the domestic.
Good To Know
Here are some fascinating outtakes from our interview with Sue Miller: I come from a long line of clergy. My father was an ordained minister in the Presbyterian church, though as I grew up, he was primarily an academic at several seminaries — the University of Chicago, and then Princeton. Both my grandfathers were also ministers, and their fathers too. It goes back farther than that in a more sporadic way. I spent a year working as a cocktail waitress in a seedy bar just outside New Haven, Connecticut. Think high heels, mesh tights, and the concentrated smell of nicotine. Think of the possible connections of this fact to the first fact, above. I like northern California, where weve had a second home were selling — its just too far away from Boston. Ive had a garden there that has been a delight to create, as the plants are so different from those in New England, which is where Ive done most of my gardening. I had to read up on them. I studied Italian gardens too — the weather is very Mediterranean. I like weeding — its almost a form of meditation. I like little children. I loved working in daycare and talking to kids, learning how they form their ideas about the worlds workings — always intriguing, often funny. I try to have little children in my life, always. I want to make time to take piano lessons again. I did it for a while as an adult and enjoyed it. I like to cook and to have people over. I love talking with people over good food and wine. Conversation — its one of lifes deepest pleasures.