Like Sue Miller’s bestselling novels, this collection of short stories explores the treacherously shifting ground of erotic and family relationships with deftness and depth. The title story is about a young man who takes up successively with three daughters of the most fashionable family in town. In other stories, whose characters range from a young girl in the first blush of sexual curiosity to a stricken dowager whose seizures release a brutal and sometimes obscene candor, Sue Miller presents a compelling gallery of contemporary men and women with hungry hearts and dismayed consciences.
“Graceful prose and some cleverly kinky twists make for provocative reading.”
— Los Angeles Times Book Review
“[Miller’s] writing is rich, her perceptions acute.”
“[Sue Miller] has a genius for understanding sexual behavior, and for transforming it into art.”
— Hilma Wolitzer
“Compelling…What [Miller] offers…is a distinctive sensibility a candid exploration of the frail and gritty truths about trying to love without harm or reprisal.”
— Boston Globe
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Lloyd Abbott wasn’t the richest man in our town, but he had, in his daughters, a vehicle for displaying his wealth the some of the richer men didn’t have. And, more unusual in our midwestern community, he had the inclination to do so. And so, at least twice a year, passing by the Abbott house on the way to school, we boys would see the striped fabric of a ten stretched out over their grand backyard, and we’d know there was going to be another occasion of social anxiety. One of the Abbott girls was having a birthday, or graduating, or coming out, or going away to college. “Or getting her period,” I said once to my brother, but he didn’t like that. He didn’t much like me at that time, either.
By the time we’d return home at the end of the day, the tent would be up and workmen would be moving under the cheerful colors, setting up tables and chairs, arranging big pots of seasonal flowers. The Abbotts’ house was on the main street in town, down four or five blocks from where the commercial section began, in an area of wide lawns and overarching elms. Now all those trees have been cut down because of Dutch elm disease and the area has an exposed, befuddled air. But then it was a grand promenade, nothing like our part of town, where the houses huddled close as if for company, and there probably weren’t many people in town who didn’t pass by the Abbotts’ house once a day or so, on their way to the library for a book, or to Woolworth’s for a ball of twine, or to the grocery store or the hardware store. And so everyone knew about and would openly discuss the parties, having to confess whether they’d been invited or not.