A debut short story collection that weaves tales of young women―deeply flawed and intensely real―who struggle to get out of their own way. They love to drink and have sex; they make bad decisions with men who either love them too much or too little; and they haunt a Southern terrain of gas stations, public pools, and dive bars.
Miller's collection won't appeal to readers who want short stories to have a beginning, a middle and a tidy ending. Hers are often snapshots of a day or a moment, with no beginning or definite end. We usually see the train wreck coming - the doomed relationship, the terrible idea, the cap popping off the sixth beer - but Miller doesn't take us all the way there. Her stories are more subtle than that. Unsatisfied and unsure what to do about it, her characters sabotage themselves in quiet ways as we listen in ... After 10 or 12 of these stories, Miller's protagonists all begin to seem like subtle variations of the same woman...But the repetition and the similarities ultimately don't matter, simply because Miller gets these characters so right - their appetites and boredom, their insecure internal monologues. The places are dead-on, too.
The stories have a Southern flavor that deliver on the publisher's promise of a book with savage Southern charm and hard-edged prose. That promise created an expectation of well-crafted tales, which the author delivers. But don't expect a lot of charm from strong women with a sense of humor. Instead, it can be a bit of a slog to sort through the stories of women in modern relationships that leave them dead inside ... It's frustrating to read about women mired in the illusion that they have such an abundance of days remaining in their lives that they can afford to waste them. If this sounds like a negative review, it's actually the opposite. The best literature illuminates the human condition and provokes contemplation. Miller puts readers inside the experiences of these women, has us stand in their socks, make their mistakes and survive.
All of the innominate girlfriends, wives, roommates, teachers and even a children’s shelter worker offer similarly unfettered commentary. The stories begin to flow together through recurring objects...There are recurring characters as well. The title story revisits the same threesome described in 'At One Time This Was the Longest Covered Walkway in the World,' though the reprise is more lucid, as though the protagonist hasn’t had as much to drink. Taken as a whole, this harrowing yet ultimately enjoyable collection is less about the conventions of storytelling — exposition, climax, denouement — and more of a meditation on the stories a person tells herself.