If Mary Miller’s last novel The Last Days of California was a love letter to adolescence, her latest work is a series of love letters to arrested development–letters never sent, pushed to the back of the desk drawer.
In Always Happy Hour, Miller glorifies life’s unevents: the life that happens between life happenings. The stories are connected through first person female narrators who inhabit roughly the same age and economic bracket. Their voices are distinct, but not distinct from one another’s. This is a world where windows are not for looking in on protagonists, but for these women to crawl through. One narrator could slip through the window of one story and seamlessly into another. Through repetition of this similar voice, Miller develops a new archetype: the single female worrier, the insecure young woman who rejects the wisdom of maturity. And Miller isn’t the only one. She has literary backup: Roxane Gay’s Difficult Women and Lesley Nneka Arimah’s What It Means When A Man Falls From the Sky (on our shelves April 4, 2017) immediately come to mind.
Miller’s women have mundane worries about their bodies, drinking too much, getting stuck in ill-fated relationships, missing the bus. The same mundane worries that fill all our brains every moment of the day. “I close my eyes and think about this. I could do better, it’s completely within my ability … but we allow ourselves to neglect the most important things as we tell ourselves we’re doing our best.” California is a physical landscape of the American South; Happy Hour is one large emotional landscape, which might be more relatable than event-based narratives.
Join the New and Noteworthy book club this Thursday at 7 p.m. to discuss Mary Miller’s Always Happy Hour. In April, we discuss The Refugees the second work by Pulitzer Prize winner Viet Thanh Nguyen