A GLOBE AND MAIL BEST BOOK OF 2018
A QUILL & QUIRE BEST BOOK OF 2018
Inspired by the work of Alex Colville, the linked stories in K.D. Miller’s Late Breaking form a suite of portraits that evoke the paintings’ looming atmospheres and uncanny stillness while traveling deeply into their subjects’ vividly imagined lives. Throughout, the collection bears witness to the vulnerability of the elder heart, revealing that love, sex, and heartbreak are not only the domain of the young, and deftly rendering the conflicts that divide us and the ties that bind.
Husbands and wives struggle to communicate, romantic relationships flare and falter, parents and children navigate their complicated feelings, and older women struggle with diminishing status in a youth-obsessed culture while the threat of violence haunts young women and girls. Yet as the stories intersect and the characters’ lives are increasingly entwined, fear, guilt, estrangement, and the fact of death are met by courage, redemption and the fragile beauty of love, in all its myriad guises. Brilliantly observed, both tender and tortured, and in no way afraid of the dark, these stories confirm K.D. Miller as one of our best and bravest writers.
K.D. Miller is the author of two previous short story collections (Give me Your Answer and Litany on a Time of Plague), a novel (Brown Dwarf), and an essay collection, Holy Writ. Her newest work, All Saints, was shortlisted for the 2014 Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize and longlisted for the 2014 Frank O’Connor Award. She lives and writes in Toronto.
Praise for Late Breaking
"A deft, nuanced, and human collection of stories. K.D. Miller's gaze catches both humour and darkness in a wide variety of relationships. A thoroughly captivating book."—Rebecca Rosenblum
"An undercurrent of the surreal pulses through 10 linked stories...sensitive portrayals of the fragility of love and ubiquity of need." —Kirkus Reviews
"If K.D. Miller had produced nothing other than “The Last Trumpet,” the opening entry in this collection of linked stories, she would still have a place on any list of this year’s best fiction. Taking up themes of aging, loneliness, and regret, “The Last Trumpet” is one of the saddest, most affecting pieces of short fiction to appear in this country in recent memory. But that story is just the first blast in a collection that is consistently engaging and assured. The stories in Late Breaking—loosely tied together by recurring characters, a focus on aging and death, and the paintings of Alex Colville—are moving and beautifully written." —Steven W. Beattie
"In Miller’s capable hands . . . familiar themes become fresh, even raw, pulsing with sexuality and longing and anger or casting a cold eye on all the preoccupations of a younger self in a younger world . . . Late Breaking is by turns tender, comic (a number of the characters are writers, which offers opportunity for satire), sad, uncompromising, horrifying and redemptive. The Gothic (think Shirley Jackson and William Faulkner) is never far away. Best of all, for all the seeming familiarity of its themes, the stories are never predictable. Never."—Minneapolis Star Tribune
"In some stories, Miller takes off from the narrative suggestion of a specific painting. In others, she builds from the sense of relationship between people or simply the tone Colville of what depicted. The end result feels like a comprehensive narrative, the characters linked by more than their source material. A real standout." —Jade Colbert, Globe and Mail
"Miller's attentiveness . . . is touching . . . The stories themselves are rich with coherence, meaning, and suggestion, and part of what makes them so satisfying is the space they leave free for us to engage with them and find our own interpretation." —Quill & Quire
"Compulsively readable. Like an Alex Colville painting . . . the longer you look, you realize there's something darker going on underneath the surface. My favourite book so far this fall." —CBC Ontario Morning
"Each of the 10 stories is introduced by a haunting Colville image . . . These paintings, through mood and theme, serve as prompts for the stories, with characters often wandering in from one verbal canvas to another. Refreshingly, the stories feature people in their 60s experiencing big fat emotions that younger writers often deny them." —Toronto Star
"These are all rich and absorbing stories on their own, but even richer for how they also inform each other . . . K.D. Miller’s fiction seems to conjure whole worlds, with characters who seem to walk off the page . . . We get glimpses of these people, but they’re like the tip of an iceberg and there’s so much more going on beneath the surface. Which is something you could say about the people in Colville’s paintings too, and about each of these stories themselves, compelling and disturbing, and impossible to look away from, creating the most terrific momentum." —Kerry Clare
"These stories plumb the depths of sadness and despair but never lose sight of their obverse: the quiet resilience and dignity of the human spirit, which doesn’t fade with age." —Hamilton Review of Books
Praise for K.D. Miller
“One of Canada’s finest writers, able to probe deeper into the human heart than the best surgeon.”—National Post
“A quietly astonishing book of short stories . . . [Miller’s] genius, like that of Alice Munro, is wringing suspense—and poignancy—from the quotidian. [All Saints’] structure is as complex and delicate as origami. Plots and characters link in haunting and astounding ways. As a collection, the stories reflect the power and purpose of all communities, ecclesiastical or otherwise: read like a novel, they offer multi-faceted perspective and illumination. The result is a Canadian classic.”—Maclean’s
“[Miller] will no doubt inspire and affirm other artists—not to mention ordinary folks—who wrestle (in secret) with angels.”—Toronto Star
“It is a testament to Miller’s genius that she makes us care so much about her characters and their fates.” —Quill and Quire