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.
Author Biography: Sue Miller is the acclaimed author of Inventing the Abbotts, The Good Mother, Family Pictures, and For Love.
From Publishers Weekly
In this collection of 11 stories, Miller exhibits the same insight into character and gift for describing contemporary relationships evidenced in The Good Mother. "The Birds and the Bees" and "Ernest" express the same subtle knowledge of a child's sensibilities and fears displayed in that novel. The mothers in "Leaving Home" and the title story learn that they cannot protect their children from the hurts of the world. No happy marriages exist here (the only one of long duration, in "Appropriate Affect,"is revealed as a sham), and the protagonists of most of the stories are individuals trying but failing to connect emotionally in a society where "all the rules have changed." In "Travel" and "Slides," men take photos of their lovers naked, pictures which survive the breakup of their relationships to provide a record of disillusionment and pain. These themes come together in the best of the tales, "The Quality of Life," which movingly articulates the stresses of trying to behave responsibly as a parent while satisfying the need for sexual compatibility. Though Miller has sympathy for all her characters, her moral vision is clear.