The Nature of Longing

Stories by Alyce Miller


"Miller . . . [has a] talent for portraying adolescent moodiness and interracial confusion . . . Nicely subtle . . . Marvelously Southern in temperament . . . What Miller brings to her narratives of black culture is unique, not because the characters are extraordinary, but because she makes them so particular. Whatever our own experience, we recognize and understand them. Her characters are richly complicated and intriguing, and her language lively and fresh."
Washington Post Book World

"Alyce Miller's collection of stories explores the nature of longing, conditioned by absence, loss, disappointment, and difference. Impressive . . . With traditional narrative techniques and lyrical language, The Nature of Longing convincingly presents a variety of complex characters, all of whom yearn for what they lack—and in that lack define their common humanity."
New York Times Book Review

More / Hide


The eight stories in The Nature of Longing move beyond conventional boundaries of race and gender to explore the universal desire to belong. Avoiding easy answers, Alyce Miller probes the overlapping worlds of blacks, whites, gays, and straights, all caught in the ordinary human struggle to connect with parents, spouses, lovers, friends, and children. In the title story, a gay librarian in upstate New York is cruelly outed but finds comfort in the letter of a man he's never met. In "Color Struck," a black mother in East Oakland struggles with her inability to name, and thus to accept, her albino daughter. In "Summer in Detroit," a black man, visiting his ailing white grandmother, is forced to relive a personal tragedy that occurred during the 1967 riots. The novella that closes the book, "Dead Women," examines a young American woman's search in Europe for romance that lasts beyond desire. Miller gives substance to her characters' poignant longing, which manifests itself in unexpected ways.


Alyce Miller is the author of three books of fiction, and more than 200 stories, essays, poems, reviews, and articles in numerous magazines, including Ploughshares, Michigan Quarterly Review, Glimmer Train, Iowa Review, and La Petite Zine. She lives in Bloomington, Indiana.