Girls and Paper and Tassels by Mary Miller
I honestly haven't read much of Mary Miller's work. I did hear her read from her collection, Big World, a month or so back. I was impressed by the hard-hitting risks Miller took in her prose. My friend Amy bought the book and loves it.
I have to say I reacted poorly to these at first. I thought there was going to be some male-bashing stuff going on. That was the baggage I brought to the text. However, I returned and found something far more complicated.
What comes through here and in the short story she read that night in Powell's is a near-confessional rawness. In this age of memoir, Miller makes a fiction which cuts to the quick with an unblinking honesty most memoirists can only dream of .
In these pieces, Miller writes in the 2nd person. Like many people, I hate 2nd person. But, she pulls it off. Consider the first two sentences of Girls:
He shows you his drawings, sketchbooks full of naked women. Women who were live at some point, who let him draw them before they became a story he would recount to you.
She starts with immediate action and attention-grabbing elements. At least my attention was grabbed by a sketchbook full of naked women and not so much by the 2nd person aspect. Then, the second sentence is largely descriptive and brings us back to "you" at the end. So, she's not banging us over the head with YOU straight away.
Considered together, we are left with a very emotionally complex picture. We have a woman who in the first instance seems skeptical and cynical. In the second flash, we have a woman who is passive. Yet, both are captive to a sense of fate. They will be with this guy no matter what, it seems. The author winks at us, telling us that the narrator is a fool, that she is deluding herself, drugging herself to take the pain that fate has brewing.
As reader, we sit and watch the wheel turn. We know this girl, we've seen her go through one bad relationship after another. We wonder why. Perhaps it's just her fate and she's just along for the ride.
So, go take a gander. I could probably write a full essay about these two shorties.
Great Flashes. I give 'em a weeks worth of crisp, sunny, fall days.