Presence

Overview

An unforgettable collection of a master storyteller?s final works

Throughout his life, Arthur Miller, one of the foremost dramatists of the twentieth century, wrote highly regarded fiction?from his early novel Focus to two collections, I Don?t Need You Anymore and Homely Girl. In Presence, a posthumous gathering of his last published stories, he reveals the same profound insight, humanism, and empathy that characterized his great dramatic works. The six stories included here ...

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Overview

An unforgettable collection of a master storyteller?s final works

Throughout his life, Arthur Miller, one of the foremost dramatists of the twentieth century, wrote highly regarded fiction?from his early novel Focus to two collections, I Don?t Need You Anymore and Homely Girl. In Presence, a posthumous gathering of his last published stories, he reveals the same profound insight, humanism, and empathy that characterized his great dramatic works. The six stories included here have all appeared in major publications and each displays all the assuredness of an artist in his autumnal prime. Presence is a gift that all fans of Miller?s work, as well as readers of contemporary fiction, will applaud.

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Editorial Reviews

Jeremy McCarter
After weaving through Miller's writing for decades, nostalgia moves front and center in Presence, a collection of stories he wrote in the years before his death in 2005, at 89. Originally published in The New Yorker, Harper's and elsewhere, the six stories have been arranged along the arc of a life, from a young Brooklynite's sexual awakening, through a middle-aged writer's creative and marital woes, to an old man's beachside ruminations. There's a wide streak of autobiography here, as in so much of Miller's work. But where his memoir, Timebends, often looked back in anger and frustration, the tone of these stories is gentle, wistful…
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly

Alongside his achievements in 20th-century drama, Miller (1915–2005) published four previous works of fiction. This collection brings together six pieces that appeared in magazines at the end of Miller's life; all, in their ways, celebrate redemption through love. The blocked, aging writer of "The Bare Manuscript" hires a flesh-and-muscle six-foot-tall model, hoping to tap into the sexual vigor of his early genius by inscribing new work directly onto her body; what unspools are the sad story of his marriage and tender memories of courtship. In "Beavers," a country homeowner is mesmerized by the astounding energy of the beavers that appear one day in his pond, and whose redundant work seems to parallel the futility of human effort, yet also to bravely mimic human emotion. "The Performance" finds the Jewish head of an American tap-dancing troupe, in Berlin just before WWII, invited to perform in front of Hitler himself. A 13-year-old boy's life is transformed by getting a new puppy, or rather, by his sexual initiation with the woman who gives him the dog in the opening "Bulldog," while in the closing title story, an older man discovers a couple making love on the beach, triggering a flood of recollection. Miller's late work showcases inimitable writing and precipitous depths of longing. (May)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Los Angeles Times
A glimpse of an artist hard up against his ninth decade, still deeply preoccupied by that most particular and elemental aspect of the human condition—the workings and uses of desire.
The Boston Globe
[Miller's] sensibility . . . speak[s] powerfully throughout.
Library Journal

One of the greatest playwrights of America's 20th century leaves a posthumous gift of short stories filled with some kind of longing-for love lost, inspiration, sexual satisfaction, illusions, or the ability even to have them anymore. Out of the six stories that this collection comprises, standouts include the coming-of-age "Bulldog," in which a teenage boy finds more than he bargains for when he enters a woman's apartment to purchase an advertised puppy; "The Performance," the chilling story of a Jewish dancer's encounter with Hitler in pre-World War II Germany; and "The Bare Manuscript," about a dried-up writer who finds an unusual way to revive his muse. These subtle, elegantly written, and thoughtful stories, all of which have appeared in major publications, such as The New Yorkerand Harper's, are highly recommended.
—Jyna Scheeren

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780143114222
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 12/2/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 176
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 7.70 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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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