Miller, Adrienne 1972(?)–

views updated

Miller, Adrienne 1972(?)–

PERSONAL: Born c. 1972, in Columbus, OH. Education: Graduated from Miami University (OH).

ADDRESSES: HomeNew York, NY. Office—Esquire, 250 W. 55th St., New York, NY 10019.

CAREER: Editor and writer. Gentlemen's Quarterly magazine, New York, NY, began as editorial assistant, became assistant editor, c. 1994–97; Esquire magazine, New York, NY, literary editor, 1997–.


(Editor) Esquire's Big Book of Fiction (short stories), Context Books (New York, NY), 2002.

(Editor) Esquire's Big Book of Great Writing: More than Seventy Years of Celebrated Journalism, Hearst Books (New York, NY), 2003.

The Coast of Akron (novel), Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2005.

SIDELIGHTS: Adrienne Miller has spent much of her career working with other writers as the literary editor of the gentleman's magazine, Esquire. Miller also wrote short stories in college, but she dismissed them as not particularly good. However, she later turned one of these stories into her first novel, The Coast of Akron. James Marcus, writing in the Los Angeles Times Book Review, commented that the book is "campy, complicated and almost unnervingly professional, as though Adrienne Miller had been knocking out this stuff for years."

The Coast of Akron is set in present-day Akron, Ohio, where Miller was raised, although the Akron depicted in her novel is a fictionalized version of the town. Parts of the story also take place in 1970s London. The plot revolves around internationally known painter Lowell Haven. Lowell, who only produces self-portraits, has not been working for about five years. Instead, he has focused his energy on throwing big parties.

Other characters revolve around Lowell and are used by Miller to explore complex ideas about family relationships. Among the cast of characters are Low-ell's ex-wife, Jenny Meatyard, who also works as an artist; their daughter, Merit, who is newly married, has a new stepdaughter, and is having an affair with a man she works with; and Fergus Goodwyn, Jenny's high-school friend and Lowell's long-time lover and benefactor. Curtis Sittenfeld, writing in the Washington Post Book World, commented: "Most of Miller's characters are deeply weird, and she describes their weirdness in such painstaking detail that it becomes not just recognizable but endearing."

The book, which also satirizes society and explores the affect of fame on its characters, was met with mixed reviews. In Library Journal Starr E. Smith dismissed the "episodic pacing and two-dimensional, stereotypical characterizations," while Chicago's Tribune Books contributor Adam Langer stated: "I found myself immersed in Miller's vividly described universe, so much so that even at the novel's most discursive moments, even at its most self-consciously quirky, I never stopped wanting to follow the lives of the splendidly realized characters who inhabit it."

In addition to Miller's own novel, she has also edited two anthologies of the fiction and nonfiction that have appeared in Esquire over the course of its history. About fifty short stories from both known and unknown authors are included in Esquire's Big Book of Fiction. A similar number of nonfiction and poems can be found in Esquire's Big Book of Great Writing: More Than Seventy Years of Celebrated Journalism.

Both anthologies received critical praise. A Publishers Weekly reviewer wrote of Esquire's Big Book of Fiction that "this isn't the place to find the latest crop of baby geniuses—it's a chance to rediscover some of the best of twentieth-century short fiction." In a Library Journal review of Esquire's Big Book of Great Writing, Robert L. Kelly acknowledged that "Esquire is to be commended for its journalistic know-how—praised, read, and, if so blessed, re-read."



Denver Post, May 22, 2005, Robin Vidimos, "Lives Built on Lies Too Good to Miss Out On," p. F12.

Interview, May 2005, Carolyn Murnick, "The Writer inside the Editor Busts Out," p. 42.

Kirkus Review, March 1, 2005, review of The Coast of Akron, p. 253.

Library Journal, July, 2002, Nancy R. Ives, review of Esquire's Big Book of Fiction, p. 124; February 1, 2004, Robert L. Kelly, review of Esquire's Big Book of Great Writing: More than Seventy Years of Celebrated Journalism, p. 86; April 1, 2005, Starr E. Smith, review of The Coast of Akron, p. 87.

Los Angeles Times Book Review, May 1, 2005, James Marcus, review of The Coast of Akron, p. R10.

New York Times Book Review, June 5, 2005, Elissa Schappell, "The Wild Midwest," p. 20.

Publishers Weekly, May 13, 2002, review of Esquire's Big Book of Fiction, p. 52; January 24, 2005, Robert Dahlin, review of The Coast of Akron, p. 113; March 7, 2005, review of The Coast of Akron, p. 47.

Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), May 1, 2005, Adam Langer, "An Imaginative, Eccentric and Moving Debut Novel," p. 3.

Washington Post Book World, May 22, 2005, Curtis Sittenfeld, "Restless in Ohio," p. T6.