Homely Girl, A Life: And Other Stories

Homely Girl, A Life: And Other Stories

by Arthur Miller
     
 

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In his long career, Arthur Miller has charted some of the most hidden aspects of the American character, and made us recognize ourselves. With Homely Girl, A Life, he turns his attention to a smaller, more intimate, canvas, but one that in its deceptive delicacy still encompasses a vast range of human fears, ambitions, and desires. Janice—the eponymous

Overview

In his long career, Arthur Miller has charted some of the most hidden aspects of the American character, and made us recognize ourselves. With Homely Girl, A Life, he turns his attention to a smaller, more intimate, canvas, but one that in its deceptive delicacy still encompasses a vast range of human fears, ambitions, and desires. Janice—the eponymous homely girl—has hated her face ever since she was a child and her mother held up Ivory Snow advertisements to her, saying, "Now that is beauty." Homely she is, but also fiercely herself. Still,it is not until she falls in love with a blind musician that she feels her full nature unfold in this exquisite portrait of a woman finding a language to describe herself.

Flanked by two stories also set in Manhattan, "Fame" and "Fitter's Night," Homely Girl, A Life pays homage to a city constantly reinventing itself—and to the classic Miller themes of work, honor, and identity.

"Chekhovian . . . deserves praising to the top of the highest skyscraper for its humanity, wit, depth" —A.N. Wilson

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Miller demonstrates his mastery of literary realism-of the psychological and moral conflicts of flesh-and-blood characters rooted in their milieu-in his second collection of short fiction. The eponymous novella is new to print; a second novella, as well as the other selection, a short story, date from the 1960s. ``Homely Girl, A Life'' follows protagonist Janice Sessions from 1937 to the late 1970s, charting her struggle to wrestle free from her Manhattan bookdealer husband, Sam Fink, a Communist Party activist whose unquestioning Stalinist faith she ultimately rejects. Told by her mother that she is physically unattractive, Janice rejects what she considers her parents' bourgeois materialism, but she discovers a sense of identity and freedom only after she divorces Sam and moves in with a blind classical musician. In ``Fame,'' which is little more than an anecdote, a wealthy and acclaimed Broadway playwright runs into a former high-school classmate in a bar-an encounter that reveals celebrity as a gilded cage in which ordinary human contact is impossible. In the much more substantial ``Fitter's Night,'' ex-gangster Tony Calabrese, now a shipfitter in Brooklyn's naval yard during WWII, is in his 40s, locked in an angry marriage to a woman ``he had never seen... naked, which was as it should be.'' Though a philanderer and a loser, Tony, undertaking a hazardous emergency repair on a damaged destroyer, manages to redeem himself for one shining moment. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Although he is one of the most important playwrights of the 20th century, Miller's prose work remains relatively unknown. This collection of three short stories is to be published in conjunction with his 80th birthday (October 17). The stories, two of which have been published previously, explore the same basic themes that permeate his dramatic works-identity, honor, and work. In the title piece a woman whose mother rather disparagingly compared her with a model in an Ivory Soap ad ("Now that's a beauty") struggles to find herself against a backdrop of 1930s Socialist chic conformity. It is not until she meets and marries a blind musician that she begins to blossom. The two remaining stories (both written in 1966) are also gems of characterization. While prose is not what Miller will be remembered for, he exhibits in this collection an adroitness with the medium. Publicity surrounding his birthday should generate renewed interest in his corpus, making purchase of this collection a good choice for public libraries, as well as academic libraries wanting to offer comprehensive coverage of Miller's life's work.-David W. Henderson, Eckerd Coll. Lib., St. Petersburg, Fla.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780140252798
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
01/28/1997
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
128
Product dimensions:
5.14(w) x 7.76(h) x 0.35(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

What People are saying about this

A. N. Wilson
Chekhovian…deserves praising to the top of the highest skyscraper for its humanity, wit, depth.

Meet the Author

Arthur Miller was born in New York City in 1915 and studied at the University of Michigan. His plays include All My Sons (1947), Death of a Salesman (1949), The Crucible (1953), A View from the Bridge and A Memory of Two Mondays (1955), After the Fall (1963), Incident at Vichy (1964), The Price (1968), The Creation of the World and Other Business (1972) and The American Clock. He has also written two novels, Focus (1945), and The Misfits, which was filmed in 1960, and the text for In Russia (1969), Chinese Encounters (1979), and In the Country (1977), three books of photographs by his wife, Inge Morath. More recent works include a memoir, Timebends (1987), and the plays The Ride Down Mt. Morgan (1991), The Last Yankee (1993), Broken Glass (1993), which won the Olivier Award for Best Play of the London Season, and Mr. Peter's Connections (1998). His latest book is On Politics and the Art of Acting. Miller was granted with the 2001 Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters. He has twice won the New York Drama Critics Circle Award, and in 1949 he was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

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