Summer Reading

It's been said that behind every great man there's a woman, but Adrienne Miller kicks it up a notch

Summer Reading

The Coast of Akron

by Adrienne Miller

Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 390 pp., $25

It's been said that behind every great man there's a woman, but Adrienne Miller kicks it up a notch with Jenny, an ambitious young painter who falls in love with wannabe artist Lowell Haven, loses her ability to paint anyone but him, and allows him to sign all her paintings, skyrocketing him to Warhol-esque fame as a self-portraitist and leading to Lowell's affair with Jenny's best friend, Fergus. But that's only the backstory. The real protagonist is Merit, Jenny and Lowell's now-grown daughter, whose identity crisis plays out against those of her aging parents (and "Uncle" Fergus). Miller has a talent for idiosyncratic details (the Havens live in a castle in Ohio; Merit's statistician husband compulsively catalogues tire brands in parking lots), leaving it hard at times to find enough context to support them all, and while her use of symbolism is imaginative and sly, it's also frustrating when it drives the action rather than deriving from it. That said, who's not a sucker for idiosyncratic detail and rich symbolism? It's all worth it for lines like this: "I love him as if he were me. And Lowell loved me, too. How much? So much that he called me, 'Me.'"
  • Summer Reading

  • The Missing Person

    This auspicious debut, begun at the Michener Center for Writers, isn't a mystery yarn or a family gothic, a romance, or a satire of radical environmentalism. It's all of the above and then some.

    Dark Matter, Reading the Bones: Speculative Fiction From the African Diaspora

    For those new to speculative fiction in general and African-American writers of the form in particular, the newest 'Dark Matter' anthology, edited by Sheree Thomas, is the perfect guide

    The R. Crumb Handbook

    The familiar self-portrait on the front cover of 'The R. Crumb Handbook' offers a warning before you crack the spine:'I'm not here to be polite!'

    Contrabando: Confessions of a Drug-Smuggling Texas Cowboy

    He spent seven years smuggling marijuana into the United States over the border from Mexico and somehow lived to write about it

    The People of Paper

    Rarely does a novel succeed in strengthening itself through its own dismantling


    Ian McEwan's observation of human experience is unflaggingly acute
  • The Closers

    Michael Connelly's ace homicide detective Harry Bosch is back with LAPD after three years' retirement


    Anyone familiar with the musical output of John Wesley Harding (né Wesley Stace) knows that the artist possesses a sly wit and literary ear that sets him apart from his fellow folk singers

    Bitter Milk

    One big, crippling thought that makes you wonder how long John McManus has been waiting to confide it, this naturalistic first novel from the former Michener fellow and author of the short-story collections 'Born on a Train' and 'Stop Breakin Down' takes place in late-Eighties East Tennessee at the base of a ridge in the Smokies


    In 'Embroideries,' Marjane Satrapi again returns to the Iran of her youth, this time taking readers to a more intimate place, the space inhabited by women

    Also Recommended

    Some other summer reading possibilities ...

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The Coast of Akron, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, Adrienne Miller

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