New book: Brand New Human Being, by Emily Jeanne Miller ’95 (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
The author: A religion major at Princeton, Miller has taught creative writing and literature at George Washington University and National Cathedral School in Washington, D.C. Her short fiction has been published in the North American Review and The Portland Review. A former journalist in California and the Rocky Mountains, she earned a master’s degree in environmental studies from the University of Montana and an M.F.A. in fiction from the University of Florida.
The plot: In her debut novel, Miller explores marriage and family. The narrator of this story set in Montana is 36-year-old Logan Pyle, a stay-at-home dad. His wife, a lawyer, seems distracted and their four-year old son is “regressing” — using a bottle, sucking his thumb, and wanting to wear a diaper some days. At a party Pyle sees his wife kissing another man and decides to leave with his son. Eventually they end up at his late father’s cabin, where his father’s widow lives.
Opening lines: “My name is Logan Pyle. My father is dead, my wife is indifferent, and my son is strange. I’m thirty-six years old. My life is nothing like I thought it would be.
“The three of us plus one dog, Jerry, live in my childhood home, a sweet and sturdy Craftsman-style bungalow on a quiet block in a tree-lined section of a small Western city that was until the end of the last ice age the bed of a glacial lake. …”
Reviews: Brand New Human Being made Real Simple magazine’s list of seven “addictive summer novels.” Publishers Weekly called the book “touching. … When he walks in on Julie kissing another man, Logan snaps, seizing Owen and heading on a journey that forces him to confront lingering elements of his history with his father. … Miller explores Logan’s resentments and insecurities with sensitivity and nuance.”