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Mary Miller Books In Order

Publication Order of Standalone Novels

The Last Days of California (2014) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Biloxi (2019) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Mary Miller is a renowned fiction writer from the United States, who has written a few successful standalone novels. She is particularly popular for writing coming-of-age stories. Miller has written the short story collections Always Happy Hour and Big World. The first full-length novel penned by her is called The Last days of California. Published by the Liveright publishers, this book tells the tale of a 15-year-old girl who sets off on a road trip with her family starting from the South up to California under the guidance of her evangelical father. During its first phase of publication, the book successfully sold all the 25 thousand copies of the initial print. Miller’s Big World sold around 3,000 copies up to the beginning of 2014. Her debut novel was recommended by a number of newspapers such as the New York Times, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Los Angeles Times, Oprah’s Book Club, etc.

The book critic from NY Times, Laurie Muchnick, has described the book as a terrific debut novel. Laura Pearson from Chicago Tribune mentioned that it had the perfect pitch to match the observations and attitudes of an adrift teenage girl and unfussy & vivid prose. The book critic Sam Sacks from Wall Street Journal gave a mixed review to the book stating that he felt disappointed to see that the author’s insight into the characters didn’t extend to the religious belief’s subject. Josh Cook from Star Tribune has also given it a mixed review saying that there are plenty of good scenes in the book, but there was something missing in the story as a whole.

Author Miller was born and brought up in Jackson, Mississippi. She completed her graduation from Texas University’s Michener Center for Writers. She has served as a Writer-in-Residence for John & Renee Grisham at Ole Miss. Miller’s stories have appeared in many literary journals, including McSweeney’s Quarterly, Mississippi Review, Oxford American, American Short Fiction, etc. As of today, she resides on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi and serves as a faculty of a low residency MFA Program at the Mississippi Women’s University. Miller has stated that she has received a great boost and inspiration from writers like Heather Lewis, Maggie Nelson, Frederick Barthelme, Mary Gaitskill, Joy Williams, Hemingway, Sarah Manguso, Beth Nugent, Denis Johnson, etc.

Many critics have praised Miller for creating captivating characters with whom readers tend to engage very well. Miller’s stories always seem beautifully and generously fortifying. She doesn’t try to dazzle the readers with twisting and turning plots, rather her stories are so original and captivating that the readers tend to get dazzled automatically. Miller feels that her writing has become tidier over the years. About her style of writing, she says that she likes to use sentences that reflect her feelings and thoughts. Miller is proud of being a Southerner and having a Southern touch in her writings. She even likes the Southern people more than others because they value humor, rhythm, and storytelling.

In addition to reading and writing stories, Miller is fond of music as well. She believes her liking for music is because she belongs to a family full of musicians. During the Christmas holidays, Miller likes to sit down with her siblings around a bonfire and play guitars and sing along. When she was studying at Michener Center, Miller was mainly involved in writing plays. It was mandatory for her and other students to choose a secondary genre. Over the course of three years, Miller penned several plays, however, they didn’t interest her very much. For a short while, she even tried her hand at writing stage directions, but they too didn’t do well. For Miller, the path that leads to an outcome is more important to the outcome itself. She likes to enjoy the journey of creating something much more than the creation. As a reader, Miller shows a particular interest in the way of people’s living and the things they carry out in their day to day lives. She considers herself to be a ruminator and a thinker, which tend to bring out many interesting things in her. During her spare times, Miller likes to talk long walks with her dog. Overall, she is very happy to have gotten noticed for her work and wishes to keep producing exciting stories in the future as well.

The debut book written by author Mary Miller is entitled ‘The Last Days of California’. It was released in 2013 by Liveright publication. It features the lead character in the role of a fifteen-year-old girl named Jess living in California. At the book’s beginning, it is mentioned that Jess waits for the world to come to an end. Her family thinks that the Second Coming is about to happen, resulting in the return of Jesus. So, they decide to go on a tour and save as many people as they can before the unexpected happens. When Jess’ evangelical father packs the family’s stuff in a van to drive to California, Jess also follows him. She has a mother, who is suffering from a health issue for a long time, and a rebellious & secretly pregnant sister.

Along with them, Jess keeps handing out religious tracts to the non-believers wherever their van stops during the ride. And as the journey is about to get completed, the beliefs of Jess start fraying. The evolved understanding & mentality makes Jess realize the fractured state of her family. She starts taking the following decisions with logic and reasoning. Along with describing a story of religious beliefs, the book also describes the love between sisters. Unlike Jess, her elder sister Elise is bold, beautiful, and wild. Jess loves Elise a lot but doesn’t appreciate her not being serious about her social and physical gifts and treating them casually. On the other hand, Jess is socially awkward, not as popular as Elise, hardly understands jokes, and is very shy to meet new people.

Another popular book written by Miller is the short story called ‘Big World’. It was published in 2009 by the Short Flight/Long Drive publication. The characters of this book appear to be lonesome and autonomous. They wish to establish a connection with the people around them but seem cynical about their ability to do so. This book also tells the story of two sisters, who keep landing in trouble all the time. Their mother is dead and there is no one to look after them except their father. The girls keep navigating through the rooms of their big house and their father chases them all around. Miller was again praised for her efficient and unapologetically honest writing.

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