Mary Miller apparently used her time well while here as the Grisham visiting writer, 2014 – 15, for now, following Small World and The Last Days of California, she has given us a new book of smart, compelling stories. These stories simmer with love, trouble, and sex. As Amelia Gray said, “For anyone who’s ever looked for love in all the wrong places, this shoebox full of beating hearts is for you.”— From Richard's 2017 Picks
Combining hard-edged prose and savage Southern charm, Mary Miller showcases biting contemporary talent at its best. Fast on the heels of her "terrific" (New York Times Book Review) debut novel, The Last Days of California, she now reaches new heights with this collection of shockingly relatable, ill-fated love stories.
Acerbic and ruefully funny, Always Happy Hour weaves tales of young women--deeply flawed and intensely real--who struggle to get out of their own way. They love to drink and have sex; they make bad decisions with men who either love them too much or too little; and they haunt a Southern terrain of gas stations, public pools, and dive bars. Though each character shoulders the weight of her own baggage--whether it's a string of horrible exes, a boyfriend with an annoying child, or an inability to be genuinely happy for a best friend--they are united in their unrelenting suspicion that they deserve better.
These women seek understanding in the most unlikely places: a dilapidated foster home where love is a liability in "Big Bad Love," a trailer park littered with a string of bad decisions in "Uphill," and the unfamiliar corners of a dream home purchased with the winnings of a bitter divorce settlement in "Charts." Taking a microscope to delicate patterns of love and intimacy, Miller evokes the reticent love among the misunderstood, the gritty comfort in bad habits that can't be broken, and the beat-by-beat minutiae of fated relationships.
Like an evening of drinking, Always Happy Hour is a comforting burn, warm and intoxicating in its brutal honesty. In an unforgettable style that distinguishes her within her generation, Miller once again captures womanhood in "a raw...and heartbreaking way" (Los Angeles Review of Books) and solidifies her essential role in American fiction.