Mary Miller

Mary Miller's short story collection, Big World, was published by Short Flight/Long Drive Books in February 2009. Her stories can be found in and forthcoming in Mississippi Review, Oxford American, Black Clock, McSweeney's Quarterly, Versal, Indiana Review, Hobart, and New Stories from the South 2008. She is an associate editor at Quick Fiction.

what are you reading now

I’m having trouble getting into a new book at the moment so I’m reading about five things. It’s sort of annoying. I’m reading James Baldwin’s Another Country (novel), Who Do You Love by Jean Thompson (story collection), Holy Cow by Sarah MacDonald (memoir), Pank 3 (literary magazine), and a book on worry because I worry a lot. This list couldn’t be any more scattered or random.

classic you’ve been meaning to read

Is Carson McCuller’s The Heart is a Lonely Hunter a classic? I’ve always been meaning to read this. It’s on my summer reading list.

last book to bring you to tears

I’m a huge James Frey fan. I don’t care about the whole memoir scandal thing. I just finished reading his novel, Bright Shiny Morning. It took me a while to get into, but then I didn’t want it to end. I don’t know if it made me produce actual tears because I don’t cry because I’m so tough, but it made me feel achy and sad. The only problem I have with reading James Frey is that I’ll start to write like him if I’m not careful. I’ll forget all the rules of punctuation and start running my sentences together and other crazy shit.

FYI: James Frey is on Facebook! I just friended him.

book you borrowed and never returned

One day I drove across town to my cousin’s house to babysit her kids and it was really early in the morning for me, like 8:30, and when I got there one of her kids was sick or something and she didn’t need me. I was kind of pissed. I mean, she could have called. Anyway, she started telling me about this great book she’d just finished called The Kite Runner. I worked at a bookstore at the time and refused to read anything popular because it was so annoying, how people are like cows and they all have to read the same thing at once and if someone dies they all rush out to get the memoir he wrote about his father, but she offered to let me borrow it and I wanted to get something out of the whole thing so I said yes. She wrote her name in it so I wouldn’t forget to give it back. I still haven’t read it.

guilty pleasure reading

Some of my favorite books feel like guilty pleasures because of the cover art. Kim Addonizio’s In the Box Called Pleasure, for example. The cover is a close-up of a woman’s feet in black stilettos and her ankles are cuffed together. It’s a small book and easy to carry around but it looks like I’m reading porn. I don’t appreciate that really.

book you’ve planted on a coffee table to impress someone

Collected Stories of William Faulkner

best american short stories, pen/o. henry prizes, or the pushcart prize anthology

I love BASS and the Pushcart Prize Anthology. If I had to pick one, I’d go with Pushcart because it doesn’t all come down to one guest editor. Like BASS on the year Salman Rushdie picked is not as good as BASS on the year Ann Patchett picked, in my opinion. Of course, I’m partial to women and I don’t like Rushdie, so this makes sense.

collected stories of

Hemingway, Amy Hempel

if you could subscribe to only one literary journal

Tin House

best thing you’ve read online recently

I’ve been reading some good stuff at Fictionaut, but I guess not everybody is on Fictionaut. Here are a few things I like a lot:

"Cake" by Glen Pourciau
"Home Says" by Mazie Louise Montgomery
from Forever No Lo by Teresa K. Miller

most anticipated upcoming release

I’ve preordered Fox Force 5, a chapbook collective featuring Elizabeth Ellen, Suzanne Burns, Brandi Wells, Lydia Copeland, and Andrea Kneeland (Paper Hero Press). I’ve already read Andrea’s section, Damage Control, and it’s amazing. So, so good.

recommended reading list:

Short Story Collections by Contemporary Female Writers

- Amanda Davis, Circling the Drain

- Judy Budnitz, Flying Leap

- Kuzhali Manickavel, Insects Are Just Like You and Me Except Some of Them Have Wings

- Heather Sellers, Georgia Under Water

- Kim Addonizio, In the Box Called Pleasure

- Susan Minot, Lust and Other Stories

- Mary Gaitskill, Bad Behavior

- Mary Gaitskill, Because They Wanted To

- Christine Schutt, Nightwork

- Lisa Glatt, The Apple’s Bruise


  1. Great list of short story collections, thanks for leading me towards some new names. I love Judy Budnitz and Kuzhali M, so softly surreal and wondrous!

  2. Mary you should try the new collection GIRL TROUBLE by Holly Goddard Jones. Great stuff, reminds me of your work. I got to know her at Murray State where I'm doing my low-res MFA.