Personal Velocity

Front Cover
Grove Press, 2002 - Fiction - 192 pages
52 Reviews
A Washington Post Best Book of 2001, Rebecca Miller's powerful debut, Personal Velocity, is the basis for her Sundance Festival award-winning film by the same name. Acclaimed by The New York Times as "the work of a talented and highly visual writer," the vibrantly fresh and lustrous stories in Miller's collection explore the multifaceted lives of women in seven arresting portraits. From within the secret self of each character we see the surprising shape of her life created as she hurtles through it. Modern and diverse, these women of different classes and ages struggle with sexuality, fate, motherhood, infidelity, desperation, and an overriding will to survive. We meet Greta, a cookbook editor who is chosen by Tavi, the hottest writer of his generation, to edit his new book. The book becomes a best-seller and Greta is propelled out of her marriage by her own ambition and success. The story, however, ends with a poignant flashback to the moment when one morning Greta realizes that ambition has grabbed her as she looks down at her kind, lackluster husband's wing-tip shoes. She suddenly knows she is leaving him and that their marriage is effectively over. Other characters include Paula, a pregnant twenty-one-year-old, who is on the run from the horror of a man who was hit by a car and died walking her home from a club the night before; Delia, an abused, working-class wife who goes into hiding with her children; and Louisa, a painter who moves rapidly from one lover to the next, acting out a self-perpetuating drama over which she has no control. Edgy, fearless, and beautifully spare, Personal Velocity marks the emergence of a singular new voice in American fiction. "Personal Velocity ... remind[s] us that good material is everywhere. [Miller is] a wonderful writer." -- Carolyn See, The Washington Post Book World "Rebecca Miller's debut story collection is a series of eye-opening portraits of women ... humane, always honest and always entertaining." -- Mark Rozzo, Los Angeles Times "Personal Velocity is a gutsy, striking debut." -- David Daley, The Hartford Courant "Each story is crafted with a cunning and precision that explores and often explodes the lives of Miller's subjects...." -- Laura Anderson, American-Statesman "Miller tackles her topics, and ours, with wisdom, sophistication, and guts." -- Glamour "If I were still teaching high school English, I'd order class sets of Rebecca Miller's Personal Velocity." -- Frank McCourt, author of Angela's Ashes

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Really compelling stories and evocative writing style. - Goodreads
It's very easy to read. - Goodreads
good writer, good director. - Goodreads

Review: Personal Velocity

User Review  - George Ilsley - Goodreads

Several stories, each with a female title character. The opening story "Greta" is perhaps the most compelling, lending the collection its title phrase. Unfortunately, the early promise is not kept and my interest level dwindled. Two and one-half stars. Read full review

Review: Personal Velocity

User Review  - Goodreads

Vague, unfulfilling and unsatisfying. I read this quickly. I kept thinking the stories were going somewhere. They do not. They just leave the reader hanging, left to wonder what next and what happened. Read full review

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About the author (2002)

Rebecca Miller has worked as a painter, actress, and director. She is the author of the short-story collection "Personal Velocity," her feature film adaptation of which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance; "The Ballad of Jack and Rose"; and "Angela,

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