Big World by Mary Miller

Big World

Fiction. Mary Miller's BIG WORLD is the second book and first work of fiction to come out of Short Flight/Long Drive Books, a publishing arm of the independent literary journal Hobart. The characters in Mary Miller's debut short story collection BIG WORLD are at once autonomous and lonesome, possessing both a longing to connect with those around them and a cynicism regarding their ability to do so, whether they're holed up in a motel room in Pige...

Details Big World

TitleBig World
Release DateFeb 17th, 2009
PublisherShort Flight/Long Drive Books
GenreShort Stories, Fiction

Reviews Big World

  • Jim
    I've been a fan of Mary Miller's work since an essay I wrote appeared alongside her short story "Leak" in Oxford American. That story opens Big World and introduces the reader to the funny-if-it-weren't-so-sad situations that her characters always seem to find themselves in. I wrote a short review which you can check out in The Believer. Here's a taste of the review:"Miller’s characters tend to be introverted women whose appetite for alcohol an...
  • David
    hobart's short flight/long drive books is producing enduring important works. they could shutter tomorrow and their first two works would be passed down from generation to generation through dusty used bookstores or from clicks on the internet, a paypal payment, and an addressed bubblewrap mailer. the tininess of this book compared to the modern paperback makes it stand out while quietly evoking the old dell mapback paperbacks with it's colored e...
  • Brian Alan Ellis
    I could say that Mary Miller’s Big World is a wonderful collection, which it is, and that the stories in it remind me of how I feel when reading stories by Charles Baxter (or Bobbie Ann Mason), and they are all excellent because Baxter (and Mason) seems to ONLY write excellent stories. I could say that if I taught a writing class, which is a wildly hilarious idea (the thought of me teaching anything!), I would add stories from Big World into th...
  • Lara
    An outstanding collection that strikes the perfect balance between humor and hard truth. The stories in this collection are each examples of Mary Miller's acute observation of both human behavior and emotion, and the liminal void that often wells between. This lacuna is where Miller excels, beautifully capturing the ways in which our intentions so often fail to align with actions, our desires with reality. My only complaint is that thematically t...
  • Roof Alexander
    Read this book now. Drop everything else. Miller's hopeless characters and bleak settings will make your nervously smile and crave cigarettes, whiskey, and cheap hotel rooms. The hilarious indifference of the narrator shines a light down on the darkness of the subject matter which deals a lot with death and bad/mediocre/awkward relationships. "I tried not to hold it against God. It wasn't God's fault that all the sick people in the world latched ...
  • Myfanwy
    Reviewed here:
  • Lori
    review to come
  • Carolina
    Grim and decadent, funny and dirty. I love it.
  • Edward Goetz
    Much like 'Always Happy Hour,' I thoroughly enjoyed this group of stories. Although thematically the two books are the same, it never feels redundant or the theme overused. I think that is because each story stands on its own, and feels 'authentic' and original.The thing I noticed in this book (and loved) was the way each story ended (which I'm sure is the same as 'Always Happy Hour'). In particular, when you look at the title story and 'Not all ...
  • Katie
    Tropic of Cancer and Big World, this month's two book club books. It's funny how neither really appealed to me initially. Henry Miller's book began aggressively with semen and spit splashed across each page. At the book's end, however, you could tell he had grown older. He had matured, but not in the conventional sense. Miller became reflective and a bit morose, which appealed to me more than the flippant discourse related to whores and prostitut...
  • Kevin
    A couple of these stories are phenomenal. Most of the stories in this collection involve women making bad decisions out of boredom or loneliness. A few of them were interesting for the way they relate moments that don't have typical story arcs, and yet they were still interesting and compelling. Really enjoyed Miller's style, though I did feel about half of the stories were forgettable. Still, would rank this as a very strong collection.
  • Justin
    A collection of short stories set mostly in the south about young women and teenage girls who are lost and trying to figure out if they even want to be found. Spare, unadorned, yet evocative prose that reads a bit like the stuff Carver wouldn't let Lish touch, but tempered with the big-eyed view of youth. In case you can't tell, I really dug it. Mary Miller can fucking write. Also I met her at a bar at AWP and she's hot and I kinda have a crush o...
  • Laura
    i devoured this in one sitting, couldn't put it down. i know everyone is sick to death of ray carver comparisons, but she's the first i've read who has traces of his greatness while still doing her own amazing thing. these are dark, almost gothic tales -- don't pick it up if you want a pick-me-up. do pick it up if you want some quality short stories. the cover/format is great -- like a pulp novel and so tiny you can slip it in your pocket.
  • Howard Parsons
    Mary Miller is one of the best writers out there right now, and Big World is all the proof needed. I read this collection four times in a row when I first bought it, and I've forced it on anyone and everyone who will listen. Not one story in Big World is anything less than remarkable.
  • lindsay
    well this book is extremely perfect and made me cry
  • Roxane
    Fantastic short stories; very sad and moving and lovely stuff. I thought Pearl was extraordinary.
  • Garry Evens
    Damn, this is a great collection. One of the best I've read in a while.
  • Brandon Will
    I just think she's amazing.You have to trust, sit back, and go where Mary Miller's stories take you. They go all over the place, following weird everyday whims, pushed and pulled by the forces of others and the confusing, often conflicting needs within the people they're about.But you always get the feeling that the characters feel like they are - or, in fact are - going nowhere. Maybe because they're just living, and when you're living a lot of ...
  • Andy
    I really liked Mary Miller's story collection Big World. The 14-30 yr. old female protagonists of these pieces are generally pretty screwed up from having bad parenting and/or profound tragedies to deal with and there is much escapist behavior in the form of drinking and casual sex going on but the narrative voice, which is consistent throughout, is witty, sarcastic, funny, a bit cynical but also frequently insightful making for a very engaging r...
  • Nik Perring
    From"... I've been dipping into, and really enjoying, Niki Aguire's 29 Ways to Drown, which is well worth a look. But mostly I've been reading Big World by Mary Miller and, well, it's gone straight onto my Incredibles list (for those reasonably new to the blog that just means books I think are incredibly good). I'm not going to review it because a) I've not finished it (and don't w...
  • Taylor Grieshober
    Mary Miller's characters are, for lack of a better word, raw. They put everything, all the ugly thoughts and observations, on the table. These women are fearless in admitting their desires, or as in most cases, their lack of desire. Some stories may be linked, but they stand on their own so effectively there is no need to flip back to find connection. All characters seem to reside in the same region of Tennessee, and have similar insecurities rev...
  • Shawn
    Excellent short stories. Miller has an excellent touch. My only beef with the book is that every single main character is, essentially, the same. Lost, wandering through life, little, if any, self-esteem, she takes whatever comes her way and doesn't much think of making any effort to get out of whatever sad life she is in. Each individual story is top notch, but an entire book of them is just a little much.
  • Ben
    As I read these stories, or more accurately, as I vacuumed them down, I was initially thinking, Faulkneresque, well, maybe, how about Carveresque, for sure, but then I thought, whatever, this collection is just fucking great, and quite Milleresque, a descriptor I expect we will be hearing more and more as time goes by.
  • Richard Thomas
    This was my introduction to her work and ever since I've been a huge fan. These stories are dysfunctional for sure, but told in an endearing fashion, as if this is YOUR family as well. A fantastic author, keep up with her work whatever you do. Thanks Aaron for reading this at the Chicago AWP off-site LDM. You enlightened me, brother.
  • Rupert
    Sweet Jesus, these are some good short stories! So much said with so little. Characters fully present and interesting. Best use of sexual activity for delineating character also. Most sex in books is kind of tiresome, but here it is used powerfully. Who is this writer?
  • Danuta Janiszewski
    I found this collection to a be a wee bit more satisfying than the collection in Always Happy Hour. I did enjoy reading and hearing from the same/similar characters though. The ED theme and body theme was still present but not as overwhelming. I think I also really enjoyed that some of these characters differed in perspective and likability and did not all assume the same disaffected, distant and gloomy tone.
  • Ashleigh
    I listened to "Always Happy Hour" by Marry Miller a year ago and loved it because it was different and I like short stories. I listened to "Big World" in hopes it would have the same writing style but different kinds of stories. I was disappointed that the stories were all very similar and mostly about women of the same type situations. Overall, it was an alright read.
  • Beth
    Mary Miller's stories are depressing but astonishingly truthful. I feel like we could be best friends.
  • Anna
    Mary Miller writes a good story. The eleven collected in her first full-length book, Big World (Hobart Pulp) are dark-edged little treasures, funny and biting, strange and sweet. Set squarely in the South, Miller's tales are first-person variations on the the gothic traditions of her landscape: tiny tragedies with a sugar coating.If I told you that death and deathly loneliness haunt the characters of Big World , you might recoil--but I hope you d...
  • Matt
    While I didn't adore this story collection as much as most everyone else who read it, the good stories are really damn good. I read enough to know that I'll probably seek out Mary Miller's novel, THE LAST DAYS OF CALIFORNIA, somewhere in the near future.I'm giving the book four stars instead of three because my favorite piece, "Fast Trains," is an incredible piece of fiction. It shined above all the rest for me, and should probably be anthologize...