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The Miller Masks: A Novel in Stories

Isaacs, Neil David

1 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 156474308X / ISBN 13: 9781564743084
Published by Santa Barbara, CA, 1999
Condition: Near Fine Soft cover
From Monroe Street Books (Middlebury, VT, U.S.A.)

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Quantity Available: 1

About this Item

205 pages. Scarce. Pictorial stiff wrappers. Like new. Record # 450900. Bookseller Inventory # 450900

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Miller Masks: A Novel in Stories

Publisher: Santa Barbara, CA

Publication Date: 1999

Binding: Soft cover

Book Condition:Near Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: None

Edition: 1st Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

Book spans five decades of life in short stories of the lead character in this unique novel.

From the Publisher:

The Stories Behind the Masks

"Like a male Scheherazade, Isaacs offers irresistible story hooks to women, who act like soft (and sometimes sharp) pillows, amorous auditors to his nightly ruminations."

--Foreword Magazine, January 1999

The interconnected stories that make up The Miller Masks--A Novel in Stories by Neil D. Isaacs are fragments of the personality of its hero, Jesse Miller, and each reveals a mask this character wears. Jesse Miller is a freelance writer, a bicoastal Jewish academic, a husband, an ex-husband, a father, a son, a lover, a talker and teller of tales, a college kid, a college teacher, a tennis player, a man on the make, a man on the come, a man on the job, a man on the ropes and a man on the mend.

These stories span half a century of Jesse's life, focusing on epiphanies at every stage: the child caught dancing naked in his room by his older brother, the college kid urinating on a girls' dorm lawn to the applause of its denizens, the onset of crabs between affairs, the casting of parental ashes into the sea which brings a gift of love to the son.

Jesse doesn't wear all his masks at the same time, nor do all the aspects of this complicated character appear in every story. But in a sense he carries the whole package through life, so that, for example, his failed marriage to Rachel haunts most of his subsequent affairs. And affairs are a major leitmotif of this novel, along with a love of sports, a delight in games, and a fascination with storytelling itself.

The stories in The Miller Masks are told with a sassy style that echoes Woody Allen and Neil Simon. We're also reminded of these writers by Jesse Miller: here is a likable hero we can laugh with and at; a hero who reminds us of our foibles and our masks. Jesse Miller is a character with whom we can identify, but from a safe distance created by fiction and laughter.

Advance Praise for The Miller Masks

"I like it: Practically everything and everyone talks to me. Isaacs has an intellectual Seinfeld here. But where nothing happens with Seinfeld, much that is amusingly scary happens to Jesse Miller. He is an appealing loser and Isaacs makes the reader (me) care about him. an everhopeful everyman: young, middle-aged, old; the sonofagun never gives up and life all searchers he figures the next woman will be Rita Hayworth/Karen Horney. Don't we all? Dandy character. Mr. Isaacs is hugely intelligent, but does not get bogged down in his intellectual know-how; he compels you to turn the page. Intelligence and accessibility: now there's a very neat, very rare parlay."

--Irvin Faust, author of Jim Dandy and The Year of the Hot Jock

"The Miller Masks is an admirable portrait of a middle-aged man searching for his true self, his soul, amidst a confusing variety of screens and desires. The structure--a group of related stories--lends a surprising authenticity to the quest."

--Alan Lelchuk, author of American Mischief and Playing the Game

"Like Jesse in "The Ghost of Brewster McCloud," Neil Isaacs haunts the playing fields of America in hopes of claiming whatever spontaneity is left in this tv-timeout culture of ours. Sex and sports--two ways of keeping the boy alive. This is familiar but no less vital ground, and I read these stories with a deepening and finally urgent sense of involvement."

--Lamar Herrin, author of The Rio Loja Ringmaster and The Lies Boys Tell

"The author of many books about sports, Neil Isaacs shows in The Miller Masks that beneath our disguises we're all athletes, disparate bodies moving fast. A "Novel in Stories," Masks is like Winesburg, Ohio rewritten by Walker Percy."

--Tom LeClair, author of Passing Off

"What a book!the first pages of the first piece got me hooked and made The Miller Masks my week.In an age when postmodern theory says we can't have deeply realized subject matter in fiction, Neil Isaacs finds a way to let readers do what authors shouldn't" totalize a character. In this way Jesse Miller is as much our fabrication as he is Isaacs', and therefore all the more credible. The parts come together not because the writer is forcing them but because of our fascination with picking up pieces Jesse and his associates have strewn about. Not fragments, not a collage, not a picture puzzle, The Miller Masks is the mosaic of a life, a brilliant example of what fiction can really do. The form is terrific. "A novel in stories"--why didn't I think of that[It is] "a novel" in stories not because of the character per se, who can't do it alone, but because of the developing enrichment of perception, which is the reader's and is facilitated by the variations in form. What do I like most? Easy: the human portrait of Jesse Miller. "

--Jerry Klinkowitz, author of Short Season and Writing Baseball

"All those masks! Jesse Miller, the protagonist of Neil Isaacs's new novel, sports so many: ritual masks that contain and modulate a soul trying to escape, and ones that cosset and protect the self from prying, unblushing evil. You'd expect catchers' and goalies' masks here as well, there are so many games, so many balls in play. Still, the foremost mask on view is really a masque, as Jesse dances, bobs, and wheels his way from the Bronx of the 1930s to where we all are now.The Miller Masks is the novel as fancy footwork. This is a thumping novel, not of Freud's love and work, but of love and play. As Marty Glickman, no mean therapist, used to say, 'It's goodlike Nedicks.'"

--Michael Olmert, author of Baseline Jumper and Milton's Teeth and Ovid's Umbrella

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