>Sue Miller

OFF TO RADCLIFFE AT A TENDER AGE

LOTTIE, THE RATHER TENTATIVE writer in For Love, must face, briefly, her mother's rage at a story she has written about her. It is not a moment drawn from life. "My mother died before I stalled publishing, and my lather was very supportive," says Sue Miller, 49. She pauses (which, with a gift for speaking in full paragraphs, she rarely does). "My grandmother read The Good Mother. She said, 'It wasn't exactly nasty, it wasn't exactly nice.' "

And though her portraits of troubled females suggest Miller herself might have survived a miserable adolescence, she says, "Mine was quite a different adolescence. I went to Radcliffe at 16. I was much too young, and it was very traumatic. I had a sense of not having a family at an early age."

Today her family consists of a 24-year-old son and her second husband, novelist Douglas Bauer. She lives in Boston but has given up the writing classes she taught at Boston-area colleges. "I did it for a while," she says, "but I worked in day care too. Then one day I didn't have it in me to say 'What a wonderful drawing!' again. It was the same with teaching writing: The sense of freshness was gone."

There has not yet been a movie sale of For Love, and Miller still has not seen the 1988 film of The Good Mother, starring Diane Keaton. "I have a sense of it though," she says, "a sense of it attempting honorably to deal with the book." She also doesn't want to see the recent ABC miniseries based on Family Pictures but admits avoiding may be harder: "My husband taped it."

  • Contributors:
  • Richard Lacayo,
  • Susan Toepfer,
  • Joe Treen,
  • V.R. Peterson.