Of course I’d been familiar with Arthur Miller’s plays for years, as well as his brilliant novel ‘Focus’ (which I’m sure will be rediscovered considering today’s political climate). However, I wasn’t aware of how many short stories the playwright had written over the course of his long career, so finding this book was a treat.
Many of the stories cover the same themes Miller covers in his plays: the plight of the everyman, the perils of fame, ruminations on ethnic and religious identity but there are also some surprises here (i.e. ‘The Performance’, whose premise I won’t give away. You have to read it). Another surprise was ‘The Misfits’, the story in which the 1961 film is based (the film is highly expanded from the short story version). Some of the stories didn’t resonate with me as much as some others but overall it’s a fantastic collection of short fiction, harkening back to a time when short fiction actually told a story.
Well, Miller is a master storyteller and a fine prose writer. It was interesting to see him expand on his ideas, beyond the constructs of his usual dialogue driven pieces, and witness how he approaches the two different mediums so differently. If you are an admirer of his plays then I highly recommend this collection. You won’t be disappointed.