A Year in Reading: Lydia Millet

December 3, 2007 | 3 books mentioned

Lydia Millet’s sixth novel, How the Dead Dream, is coming out in January from Counterpoint; a previous book, My Happy Life, won the PEN-USA Award for Fiction in 2003. She lives in the desert outside Tucson, Arizona.

coverI fell in love with a woman this year. It was a first for me and a novel called Jesus Saves is what did it – I fell in love with the author, Darcey Steinke. Jesus Saves was published in 1999 but I found it just this summer, at the back of a tiny library in Silver City, New Mexico, a town of roughly 10,000 souls where I spend my summers, and read it in a couple of dreamy, lying-in-bed days. There’s a child being tortured in the book, which is painful, especially for someone like me, pregnant and with a three-year-old little girl. There’s torture in there, and there’s religion; there’s sex and drugs. There’s a lot of garbage, a lot of litter in the woods where teenagers sneak off to be sordid. There are also unicorns and rainbows, though they don’t make you feel good. Finally it’s deeply beautiful, beautiful in the way of some of Denis Johnson, maybe, or various poets. Also the author’s photo, which you’re never supposed to notice if you’re reading books for the right reasons, was alarmingly beautiful, almost criminally, wrongly beautiful. All in all I fell in love. Since then I’ve read two of her other books. Still loving.

More from A Year in Reading 2007

has written more than a dozen books of literary fiction, most recently a novel called A Children’s Bible (W.W. Norton, 2020). She works as chief editor at the Center for Biological Diversity, an organization dedicated to fighting climate change and species extinction.

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