Sue Miller

Brief lives, a family epic, and an indelible adventure.



Beginning with The Good Mother, Sue Miller has built a career on novels about female protagonists whose comfortable lives are upended by the turbulence, passion, and ambivalence lurking beneath the surface of domestic complacency. Her recent novel, The Lake Shore Limited, addresses similar themes as a headstrong playwright watches her latest drama unfold on and off the stage. This week, Miller recommends an eclectic trio of books that share an attentiveness to the tragicomic variety of human experience.


Books by Sue Miller




The Outermost Dream: Literary Sketches

By William Maxwell


"The Outermost Dream by William Maxwell is a delicious book, a series of short partial biographies of characters as diverse as E. B. White and Colette, as Eudora Welty and Lord Byron and Samuel Butler's godawful father. Elegantly written by Maxwell in response to his reading of biographies, collected letters, memoirs, or diaries, these accounts of mostly literary lives are completely engaging on one level, probing and thought-provoking on another."



A High Wind in Jamaica

By Richard Hughes


"Cross a wacky seafaring adventure--Conrad gone awry via inept piracy--with an exploration of the consciousness of a child as radical and insightful as that provided by Henry James in What Maisie Knew, and you have A High Wind In Jamaica by Richard Hughes. The tone is sui generis and always surprising--here lingering desultorily on the slow delights of a Caribbean childhood, there dispensing with the accidental death of a child in one short, shocking sentence. By turns funny, ironic, and brutally sad, this is a complex and astonishing novel."



The Children's Bach

By Helen Garner


"The Children’s Bach by the Australian writer Helen Garner is a family saga told in 96 brilliant pages. There is real drama here--illness, infidelity, abandonment, despair--but almost none of it is explicit. Garner's compressed, elliptical style brings us life as it's lived in those small moments that by implication reveal the larger story. As a writer, I'm amazed by this book every time I read it. And that's often."


July 23: Jessica Mitford died on this day in 1996.

Crime fiction legends Dennis Lehane and Michael Connelly discuss the new book that unites their beloved sleuths Patrick Kenzie and Harry Bosch.

Books, CDs, DVDs to know about now
Paradise and Elsewhere

Canadian short story marvel Kathy Page emerges as the Alice Munro of the supernatural from these heartfelt tales of shapeshifting swimmers, mild-mannered cannibals, and personality-shifting viruses transmitted through kisses.


When a persuasive pastor arrives in a sleepy farm town, his sage influence has otherworldly results (talking sheep, a mayor who walks on water). But can he pull off the miracle of finding kindly local Liz Denny the love of her life?  Small wonder looms large in this charmer from Andre Alexis.

The Hundred-Year House

When a poetry scholar goes digging through the decrepit estate of his wife's family to uncover a bygone arts colony's strange mysteries, he awakens a tenacious monster: his mother-in-law. A wickedly funny take on aging aristocracies from author Rebecca Makkai (The Borrower).