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River Bend Chronicle

Praise for River Bend Chronicle


Shortlisted for the William Saroyan International Prize for Writing


“Funny and beautifully crafted . . . Miller’s affecting chronicle reveals the often messy ways that families fall apart and the way that writing acts both as remembrance and redemption.” —Publishers Weekly

“What Miller presents is a kind of forgiveness, brave, heroic, and largely uncharted by male writers . . . he lends empathy and strength to a story that could otherwise be just one of victimhood.” —ForeWord

“Miller’s memoir is gritty and well-told, an uncomfortable coming-of-age story that is as unique as it is universal.” —Wisconsin State Journal

“Melvillian in its packed facts, fascinating characters, stylistic virtuosity, and deep-diving ambition to understand destructive madness . . . a work that should be the gold standard for literary memoirs in the future.”
—Tom LeClair, Daily Beast

The author infuses the narrative fabric with a potion that elevates ordinariness to the level of Myth . . . this style, which at times has Joycean echoes, makes this memoir much more than a story of how to find the light at the end of the tunnel . . . [Miller is] one of the best contemporary Amercan writers.”American Book Review

“A remarkable but challenging book . . . Miller has laid bare a universe of tween emotions, revealing the trusswork and power grids of his hometown.” —Minneapolis Star Tribune

“We book reviewers dig and dig through the stacks of books. There are some very good ones. And now and then there’s a book like Ben Miller’s memoir about growing up during the 1970’s in the Mississippi River town of Davenport, Iowa. I felt like I had stumbled upon an old trunk up in the attic. When I opened it up I was delighted by the gleaming treasure inside.” —Vick Mickunas, host of Book Nook

“Ben Miller’s prose is incandescent, bittersweet, and hilarious. Few writers have given more compelling voice to their memories of a particular place. The Great American Midwest will never look—or feel—the same.”
Jackson Lears, author of Rebirth of a Nation: The Making of Modern America, 1877–1920

“Ben Miller’s writing has left a trail of clear and perfect images lasered permanently in my mind. His imagination is astounding in its breadth and detail, but it is the heart behind the words, the emotion he brings to the smallest moments, that makes me such an admirer of this writer and his work, and has me anxiously awaiting, and cheering for, the publication of River Bend Chronicle.”
Hannah Tinti, author of The Good Thief

“Ben Miller seems not so much to write his sentences as dowse his way into them, following the subterranean logic of language and creating the amplitude of his completely unique America. His prose is, at once, fetchingly lyrical and deeply comic—comic in a way that is eyes-open to the tragic sense of life. Reading his essays, I feel disconcertingly—but also relievedly—human.”
Sven Birkerts, author of The Other Walk and The Gutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age

“A wind around the mind is perhaps the best way I can describe Miller’s writing. What I love about his work (among other qualities) is the way it seems to harness and surf this wind, creating both the consciousness-on-the-page experience that often defines the best nonfiction, as well as a unique physicality and sense of place, or at least psychological architecture. You have to give yourself over to the writing’s own idiosyncrasies; but this effort is always rewarded with lines or images that give back ten-fold what they ask you to bring . . . His writing is just a joy to read. I've been waiting for this book for years.”
Steven Church, author of The Day After The Day After: My Atomic Angst