Inventing the Abbotts and Other Stories

( 2 )

Overview

Sue Miller's stories from a chapter in the moral history of our time

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 ...

See more details below
Paperback
$12.67
BN.com price
(Save 15%)$14.99 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (65) from $1.99   
  • New (6) from $3.50   
  • Used (59) from $1.99   
Sending request ...

Overview

Sue Miller's stories from a chapter in the moral history of our time

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.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this moving and articulate collection of 11 stories, the author of The Good Mother describes individuals trying, but failing, to connect emotionally in a society where ``all the rules have changed.'' PW praised Miller's ``insight into character and gift for describing contemporary relationships.'' (June)
Library Journal
This collection follows the author's impressive debut, The Good Mother ( LJ 5/15/86). In the title story a young man tells the absorbing tale of his elder brother's involvement with three sisters of small-town social prominence. Other stories also reflect Miller's intense preoccupation with the delicacy of relationships among parents, children, wives and husbands, the married and divorced, lovers. ``The Quality of Life'' depicts emotional complexities within a family marked by separations and rivalries. ``Tyler and Brina,'' ``Travel,'' and ``Expensive Gifts'' all concern the tentative dependence and isolation of women, their strengths, the needines of their men. Readers of Miller's novel will again appreciate her fastidiousness and clarity, her sobering vision of the moral dilemmas of modern middle-class life. Mary Soete, San Diego P.L., Cal.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060929978
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 1/8/1999
  • Series: Harper Perennial
  • Pages: 192
  • Product dimensions: 5.31 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.43 (d)

Meet the Author

Sue Miller

Sue Miller is the bestselling author of While I Was Gone, The Distinguished Guest, For Love, Family Pictures, Inventing the Abbotts, and The Good Mother. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Read More Show Less
    1. Hometown:
      Boston, Massachusetts
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 29, 1943
    2. Place of Birth:
      Chicago, Illinois
    1. Education:
      B.A., Radcliffe College, 1964; M.A.T., Wesleyan U., 1965; Ed.M., Harvard U., 1975; M.A. Boston U., 1980

Read an Excerpt

Lloyd Abbott wasn't the richest man in our town, but he had, in his daughters, a vehicle for displaying his wealth that 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 Abbotts' house on the way to school, we boys would see the striped fabric of a tent stretched out over their grand backyard, and we'd know there was going to be another occasion for 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.

My brother Jacey usually had been, and for that reasonwas made particularly miserable on those rare occasions when he wasn't. I was the age of the youngest daughter, Pamela, and so I was later to be added to the usual list. By the time I began to be invited to the events under the big top, I had witnessed enough of the agony which the whimsicality of the list cost my brother to resolve never to let it be that important to me. Often I just didn't go to something I'd been invited to, more than once without bothering to RSVP. And when I did go,. I refused to take it seriously. For instance, sometimes I didn't dress as the occasion required. At one of the earliest parties I attended, when I was about thirteen, I inked sideburns on my cheeks, imagining I looked like my hero of the moment-of several years actually Elvis Presley. When Jacey saw me, he tried to get my mother not to let me go unless I washed my face.

"It'll look worse if I wash it," I said maliciously. "It's India ink. It'll turn gray. It'll look like dirt."

My mother had been reading when we came in to ask her to adjudicate. She kept her finger in the book to mark her place the whole time we talked, and so I knew Jacey didn't have much of a chance. She was just waiting for us to leave.

"What I don't understand, John," my mother said to Jacey—she was the only one who called him by his real name-"is why it should bother you if Doug wants to wear sideburns."

"Mother," Jacey said. He was forever explaining life to her, and she never got it. "This isn't a costume party. No one else is going to be pretending to be someone else. He's supposed to just come in a jacket and tie and dance. And he isn't even wearing a tie."

"And that bothers you?" she asked in her gentle, high-pitched voice.

"Of course," he said.

She thought for a moment. "Is it that you're ashamed of him?"

This was hard for Jacey to answer. He knew by my mother's tone that he ought to be above such pettiness. Finally, he said, "It's not that I'm ashamed. I'm just trying to protect him. He's going to be sorry. He looks like such a jerk and he doesn't even know it. He doesn't understand the implications."

There was a moment of silence while we all took this in. Then my mother turned to me. She said, "Do you understand, Doug, that you may be the only person at this party in artificial sidebums?"

"Yeah," I answered. Jacey stirred restlessly, desperately. He could see where this was heading.

"Do you understand, honey, that your sideburns don't look real?" Her voice was unwaveringly gentle, kind.

Well, I had thought they might almost look real, and this news from someone as impartial as my mother was hard to take. But the stakes were high. I nodded. "Yeah," I said.

She pressed it. "That they look, really, as though you'd drawn them on?"

I swallowed and shrugged. "Yeah," I said again.

She looked hard at me a moment. Then she turned to Jacey. "Well, darling," she said. "It appears he does understand. So you've really done all you can, and you'd better just go along and try to ignore him." She smiled, as though to try to get him to share a joke. "Just pretend you never saw him before in your life."

Jacey was enraged. I could see he was trembling, but he had boxed himself in with his putative concern for my social welfare. I felt the thrill of knowing I was causing him deep pain.

"Mother," he said, as though the word were a threat. "You don't understand anything." He left the room, slamming the door behind him.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 2 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(1)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(0)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

(0)

Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation

Reminder:

  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

 
Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 8, 2002

    love it up

    the best book i've ever read. a cobination of love, reality, and you'll never be able to put it down!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 15, 2001

    perfect stories

    i normally do not like reading short stories, so i was hesitant to pick this book up. i am so happy i went against my likings - these stories were enjoyable and easy reads. most short stories leave you questioning the end, these only leave a smile.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews

If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
Why is this product inappropriate?
Comments (optional)