The Last Days of California, our Top Shelf pick for January, is finally on our shelves! Author Mary Miller’s debut novel about a family on a road trip headed for the Rapture has met with considerable praise. Many of our booksellers have loved this story of the Metcalfs, as told from the point of view of fifteen year old Jess.
Arian: “This book, it would seem in some ways, is a bit of a love letter; to the South, the American road trip, and, most definitely, to being a girl. Mary Miller has taken every raw part of adolescence and written it down in authentic and beautiful detail. It’s a must read for anyone looking for accurate, strong and remarkable female voices in literature.”
Miller will launch the book here this Thursday, January 23 at 7pm with fellow debut novelist Sarah Cornwell, who will be here to read from her novel, What I Had Before I Had You. We’re thrilled to see Last Days receive so much attention and hope you’ll join us to celebrate both of these wonderful new novelists on Thursday.
P R A I S E F O R T H E L A S T D A Y S O F C A L I F O R N I A
Starred review in Publisher’s Weekly. “In Jess, Miller has created a narrator worthy of comparison with those of contemporaries such as Karen Thompson Walker and of greats such as Carson McCullers.”
Reviewed in [PANK]. “…Miller’s experience and expertise as a short story writer is showcased through her economy of language and choice of detail….”
Reviewed in Elle magazine. “Miller’s prose bestows a magnetic beauty on gas-station bathroom stops, Waffle House lunches, and the cast of overfed, overstimulated travelers the Metcalfs encounter along the interstates.
Vincent Scarpa for American Short Fiction: “The Last Days of California is that rare book that manages to invite a broad readership—accessible enough to be enjoyed by young adults, yet existentially inquisitive in ways that would give any enthusiast of literary fiction plenty to chew on—without sacrificing its allegiance to language or character or story.”
C O N V E R S A T I O N S W I T H M I L L E R
Miller on writing in Redbook magazine. “Write the story you want to write, not the story you think you ought to. Read the news. Really oddball stuff is happening constantly, everywhere, and you never know what will inspire you.”
Conversation with School Library Journal: “I was also trying to capture the way in which our minds work. Thoughts are fleeting, fickle. We can ponder death and God and french fries within ten seconds, though we may not be aware of it. Our minds chatter on and on whether we’re listening or not.”
Conversation with Full Stop. “In the first scene, Jess looks at the paper and sees that Honey, I Shrunk the Kids will be coming on that night and she gets all excited. Perhaps when I wrote this scene, Honey, I Shrunk the Kids was about to come on and I got excited. That’s probably what happened, though I can’t remember.”
Miller on writing, via Read to Write Stories. “My natural tendency in writing is toward misunderstanding and confusion. When people speak to each other, particularly those who know each other well, there is typically a lot of subtext…In life, this kind of sucks, but it’s great for dialogue.”
Miller on religion in Vol. 1 Brooklyn. “In the South, particularly in more rural areas, thirty people might get together to form a church and who knows what goes on there? I once worked in an office where three out of four of the men were preachers (this is an exact statistic; there were four men in the office and three of them were preachers).”
Signed copies of The Last Days of California are available to order via bookpeople.com.