Personal Velocity by Rebecca Miller

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Rebecca Miller's powerful debut, Personal Velocity, explores the multifaceted lives of women in seven arresting portraits. Given a glimpse of 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 Thavi, 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. Other characters include Nancy, a psychologically troubled nine-year-old girl growing up within New York high society; Delia, an abused 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. Two stories, "Bryna" and "Julianne," recount the same night from different points of view. At Julianne's dinner party, filled with local celebrities, her housekeeper, Bryna, is working in the kitchen when a startling scene ensues. It draws the two women together and causes each to realize something about their own pain. Miller's fresh and lustrous prose is sure to bring her into the limelight of American fiction.

About Rebecca Miller

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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,
Published September 2, 2001 by Grove Press. 160 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Personal Velocity

Kirkus Reviews

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Filmmaker Miller debuts with seven spare, elegant stories delineating the haphazard choices that influence women's journeys through life.

May 20 2010 | Read Full Review of Personal Velocity

The Guardian

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Personal Velocity by Rebecca Miller 178pp, Doubleday, £10.99 Rebecca (daughter of Arthur) Miller is already a triple award-winner, but that was for a film, Angela.

Feb 02 2002 | Read Full Review of Personal Velocity

Publishers Weekly

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Miller does know something about the people in these worlds (she is particularly tuned into the shorthand, insider chat of rich bohemians), but the affectless prose—not to mention the author's penchant for describing her characters' breasts and buttocks—doesn't allow for much character developmen...

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AV Club

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It took nearly 70 years, but the iconic and overwhelmingly sensual image of a girl on a swing in Jean Renoir's classic pastoral A Day In The Country has been reduced in Rebecca Miller's Personal Velocity to the most banal signifier of female liberation imaginable.

Nov 22 2002 | Read Full Review of Personal Velocity

Entertainment Weekly

In Personal Velocity, the writer-director Rebecca Miller, adapting a trio of short stories from her 2001 collection, creates portraits of three highly distinct women, and virtually every second we spend with them tingles with discovery.

Nov 29 2002 | Read Full Review of Personal Velocity

Common Sense Media

Each of these characters has her own source of power, from Delia's sexuality to Greta's intellect to Paula's detachment, and each must use this power to attain her own "personal velocity".

May 02 2004 | Read Full Review of Personal Velocity

Deseret News

The problem might be more forgivable if the performances weren't so solid in this sullen drama, which comes from someone who should have known better — novelist-turned-filmmaker Rebecca Miller, the daughter of playwright Arthur Miller.

Jan 10 2003 | Read Full Review of Personal Velocity

Chicago Tribune

Even if you didn't know that writer-director Rebecca Miller had written the three short stories adapted for "Personal Velocity," you wouldn't have to watch long to realize this filmmaker is in love with the author's work.

Dec 04 2002 | Read Full Review of Personal Velocity

Time Out New York

Best Fiction film at Sundance 2002, Miller's film is based on three of her own short stories, each about a woman at a turning point in her life.

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Spirituality & Practice

Now she is married to Lee (Tim Guinee), a bland Midwesterner whose most outstanding quality is that Greta knows he'll never leave her.

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The Age

Still stands as one of the best examples of how good a digital video film can be.

May 26 2006 | Read Full Review of Personal Velocity

News Review.

The title may sound like a Steven Seagal movie, but this is really a super-serious art film about the separate lives of three different women: an abused wife (Kyra Sedgwick), a book editor (Parker Posey) and a pregnant teen (Fairuza Balk).

Dec 19 2002 | Read Full Review of Personal Velocity

News Review.

The title refers to individual approaches to life: “Everybody,” says one character, “has their own personal velocity.” (Serious and artistic enough for you?) The movie was written and directed by Rebecca Miller (daughter of playwright Arthur Miller) and is based on her book of short stories.

Dec 12 2002 | Read Full Review of Personal Velocity

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