Novelist and professor Miller (Advanced Fiction/Oklahoma State Univ., Tulsa; Family Correspondence, 2000, etc.) traverses Oklahoma, hoping to garner celebrity in unexpected places.
The author’s desire to be a popular dramatic actress was stoked by years of watching TV shows like The Edge of Night and Peyton Place, she recalls. But this kind of limelight was hard to find in tiny Tahlequah, a small Oklahoma town nestled in the foothills of the Ozark Mountains. After her mother died giving birth to her brother Mark, the author watched her father march through a series of subsequent marriages. Miller was raised by a charismatic grandmother, who provided more than a few thrills with her bad driving on their numerous day trips and her unique, progressive brand of childrearing. By the time Miller was of college age, she’d already enjoyed a short-lived stint at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City. Her Southern drawl proved problematic in contemporary theater, so she returned to Tahlequah, determined to make the best of small-town life. After the death of her beloved grandfather, books and writing became both a “consolation and inspiration.” In her mid-20s, with the publication of her 1981 debut novel Remnants of Glory, she finally found her niche, even as Mark faced criminal charges for drug possession. Teaching gigs at the local university became a nightmare after a frightening, persistent stalker made her life a living hell. Success with a local public-TV program, Writing Out Loud, featuring Miller’s interviews with popular authors and media personalities, brought her much-desired recognition, as well as a relocation to Tulsa. Emulating many other contemporary memoirists anxious to avoid James Frey’s problems, the author prefaces her text with a disclaimer asserting that it’s composed of “truth, filtered through memory.”
Serviceable, but chatty and oddly unremarkable.