Miner, Valerie 1947-
Miner, Valerie 1947-
Born August 28, 1947, in New York, NY; daughter of John Daniel (a sailor) and Mary (a restaurant waitress and cashier) Miner. Education: University of California, Berkeley, B.A., 1969, M.J., 1970; attended University of Edinburgh, 1968 and University of London, 1974-75.
Laney College, Oakland, CA, teaching assistant, 1969-70; University of California, Berkely, teaching assistant, 1967-69; instructor at Centennial College, Toronto, Ontario, and University of Toronto, both 1972-74, and York University, 1973; University of California, Berkeley, lecturer in humanities and field studies program, 1977-89; Arizona State University, Tempe, assistant professor, 1990-92, associate professor of English, 1992; University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, associate professor, 1992-95, professor of English, 1995-2006; Pacific University, Forest Grove, OR, core faculty, 2005—; University of Minnesota, professor emerita, 2006—; Stanford University, Stanford, CA, professor, 2006—. Lecturer at California State University, Hayward, 1977, San Francisco State University, 1977-78, and Mills College, Oakland, CA, 1980-81. Broadcaster in Toronto, Ontario, 1973.
National Feminist Writers Guild (founding member), National Book Critic's Circle (board of directors 1991-97, vice president and secretary 1992-93), Women against Violence in Pornography and Media (member of board of directors), Modern Language Association (MLA) (member, 1988-93, executive committee, 1994-95, writing delegate, 1992-94), Associated Writing Programs (board of directors, 1998-2003, vice president, 2001-02), National Union of Journalists, UK (member, vice chair), PEN West (cochair 1988-89), San Francisco Media Alliance, Theta Sigma Phi.
PEN Syndicated Fiction Award, 1986; Australia Council Literary Arts Grant, 1988; Virginia Center for Creative Arts fellowship, 1990, 1995, 2001, 2004, 2007; Blue Mountain Center Fellow, 1992; Common Rhythms fellow, Lila Wallace Readers Digest Foundation and Centrum Foundation, 1993-94; Travel Grant, Jerome Foundation, 1996-97; Audience Development Grant, National Endowment for the Arts, 1996; Heinz Foundation fellow, 1996; Distinguished Teaching Award, University of Minnesota, 1999; Leighton Colony fellow, 1993; McKnight Arts and Humanities fellow, 1993, 1998, 2005; Rockefeller Foundation residency, 1994; Yaddo Writing fellow, 1999; Fulbright Scholar Award, 2000; Virginia Center for the Creative Arts fellow, 2001; McKnight research fellow, 2002; MacDowell Colony Writing Residency, 2002; McGinnis-Ritchie Award for fiction, 2002; finalist for PEN creative nonfiction award, 2002, for The Low Road: A Scottish Family Memoir; Hugh J. Luke Award for fiction, 2003, for "Percussion"; Fulbright Senior Specialist Award, 2004.
Murder in the English Department, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1982.
Movement: A Novel in Stories, Crossing Press (Trumansburg, NY), 1982.
Blood Sisters: An Examination of Conscience, St. Martin's (New York, NY), 1982, Danish translation, published as Blodsostre, Hekla (Copenhagen, Denmark), 1984, Michigan State University Press (East Lansing, MI), 2003.
Winter's Edge, Methuen (London, England), 1984, Crossing Press (Trumansburg, NY), 1987, new edition with afterword by Donna Perry, Feminist Press at the City University of New York (New York, NY), 1996.
All Good Women, Crossing Press (Freedom, CA), 1987.
A Walking Fire, State University of New York Press (Albany, NY), 1994.
Range of Light, Zoland Books (Cambridge, MA), 1998.
After Eden ("Literature of the American West" series), University of Oklahoma Press (Norman, OK), 2007.
(With M. Kostash, M. McCracken, E. Paris, and H. Robertson) Her Own Woman (nonfiction), Macmillan (Canada), 1975.
(With Zoe Fairbairns, Sara Maitland, Michele Roberts, and Michelene Wandor) Tales I Tell My Mother (stories), Journeyman (London, England), 1978, South End (Boston, MA), 1980, Swedish translation, published as Sagor för Lilla Mamma, Arbetarkultur (Stockholm, Sweden), 1980.
(With Zoe Fairbairns, Sara Maitland, Michele Roberts, and Michelene Wandor) More Tales I Tell My Mother (stories), Journeyman (London, England), 1987.
(Editor, with Helen E. Longino) Competition: A Feminist Taboo? (nonfiction), Feminist Press (New York, NY), 1987.
Trespassing and Other Stories, Crossing Press (Freedom, PA), 1989.
The Low Road: A Scottish Family Memoir, Michigan State University Press (East Lansing, MI), 2001.
Abundant Light: Short Fiction, Michigan State University Press (East Lansing, MI), 2004.
Work represented in more than sixty anthologies, including Modern Commonwealth Literature, 1976; Canadians All, 1979; Take Back the Night: First Feminist Papers on Pornography, 1980; and Old Maids to Radical Spinsters: Unmarried Women in the Twentieth-Century Novel, University of Illinois Press, 1991. Also contributor to periodicals, including Mademoiselle, Saturday Night, New Society, Maclean's, New Statesman, Economist, Ploughshares, Virginia Quarterly Review, Georgia Review, Salmagundi, New Letters, Village Voice, Prairie Schooner, Gettysburg Review, Conditions, Women's Review of Books, Nation, and Feminist Review. Past member of editorial staff of Listener, Time Out, and the Writers and Readers Publishing Cooperative.
Work has been translated into Swedish and Danish languages.
Journalist and fiction writer Valerie Miner is the author of novels and short story collections that raise social, emotional, and philosophical questions. Through such novels as Blood Sisters: An Examination of Conscience and A Walking Fire, Miner draws the reader into tales that focus on such woman-centered issues as sexual violence, social advocacy, abortion, divorce, and lesbianism as they become manifested in the changing circumstances of her independent female protagonists. The author of numerous journalistic pieces, Miner's Rumors from the Cauldron: Selected Essays, Reviews, and Reportage was collected, as the author writes in the 1992 volume's introduction, as "my own small resistance to cultural amnesia. We can continue to imagine as feminists only if we can remember."
Blood Sisters, Miner's debut novel, focuses on the adult relationship between two cousins. Attempting to follow the path of their grandmother, an Irish patriot, the two women commit themselves to different political causes. Liz, a lesbian living a carefree existence, enacts her pacifism through her New Age religion; meanwhile, Beth, a schoolteacher, is active in groups fighting for an end to the British occupation of Northern Ireland. Personality conflicts between the two ensue after free-spirited Liz arrives in rain-soaked London in response to a job offer.
Movement: A Novel in Stories depicts the psychological, geographical, sexual, and political movement of a woman named Susan in story chapters that follow a chronological sequence. Miner punctuates the novel with vignettes about the lives of a multitude of women, thereby showing women's common experience. Murder in the English Department, unlike the promise of its title, was considered by critics to be a feminist statement rather than a work of detective fiction. Women's studies professor Nan Weaver is accused of the murder of a sexist male colleague named Angus Murchie; she cannot prove her innocence except by revealing facts told to her in confidence by a beautiful student: Murchie was stabbed to death in self-defense after attempting to rape the young woman. Noting that the male characters in the novel are portrayed negatively and that protagonist Nan, "admirable as she may be," does not capture the affections of the reader, Washington Post Book Review critic Jean M. White noted of Murder in the English Department that "Miner writes crisply and has a good ear for dialogue. Maybe she'll be satisfied to write a good story the next time out without stacking the deck to make her point and burdening her tale with editorializing."
Winter's Edge describes the friendship between two old women who live and work in San Francisco's Tenderloin. Calling the novel "depressing at times, and certainly no lightweight," a Publishers Weekly reviewer added that Winter's Edge "takes a thought-provoking look at human nature."
Among Miner's other novels is A Walking Fire, a portrayal of the extended aftereffects of the Vietnam War. In Range of Light the Sierra Mountains of California are the backdrop for a reunion of two high school friends. Though middle-aged, the women are still holding onto issues more than twenty-five years in the making, and the trip provides them with the opportunity to begin to heal old wounds. Booklist reviewer Whitney Scott found that the novel "has an emotional poignancy that [Miner's] fans will embrace." Venetia Porter wrote in a review for Lambda Book Report: "There is a lyrical subtlety to Miner's work that is slow to unfold, but the result is both seductive and at the end worth the journey." Miner "portrays [the setting] vividly enough to make the reader start packing for Yosemite," commented a Library Journal contributor.
After Eden, Miner's eighth novel, takes place in the aftermath of the death of fifty-year-old Emily's longtime partner. Even as Emily's friends rally around her and she settles into the group's shared California ranch, an unending array of obstacles threaten the new life she is making for herself. Although a Kirkus Reviews critic found the novel's characterizations "shallow," the reviewer appreciated Miner's "evocation of place."
Miner is also the author of several short story collections, including Trespassing and Other Stories and Abundant Light: Short Fiction. The stories in Abundant Light center on a theme of travel and displacement, exploring the definitions of home and family. In a review for Prairie Schooner, Elizabeth Horan remarked that Miner has a "gift for dialogue and for telling domestic details."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Backtalk: Women Writers Speak Out, Rutgers University Press (New Brunswick, NJ), 1993.
Contemporary Literature Criticism, Volume 40, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1988.
Feminist Writers, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1996.
Booklist, April 15, 1998, Whitney Scott, review of Range of Light, p. 1429.
Kirkus Reviews, January 15, 2007, review of After Eden, p. 46.
Lambda Book Report, July, 1998, Venetia Porter, review of Range of Light, p. 27.
Library Journal, March 15, 1998, Michele Leber, review of Range of Light, p. 94.
Prairie Schooner, winter, 2005, Elizabeth Horan, review of Abundant Light: Short Fiction, p. 183.
Publishers Weekly, September 27, 1985, review of Winter's Edge, p. 95.
Washington Post Book World, March 20, 1983, Jean M. White, review of Murder in the English Department, p. 11.
Valerie Miner Home Page,http://www.valerieminer.com (September 19, 2007).