The Nature of Longing

Alyce Miller
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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.