My Brilliant Friends

Our Lives in Feminism

Nancy K. Miller

Columbia University Press

My Brilliant Friends

Pub Date: January 2019

ISBN: 9780231190541

232 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $28.00£22.00

Pub Date: January 2019

ISBN: 9780231548946

232 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $27.99£22.00

My Brilliant Friends

Our Lives in Feminism

Nancy K. Miller

Columbia University Press

My Brilliant Friends is a group biography of three women’s friendships forged in second-wave feminism. Poignant and politically charged, the book is a captivating personal account of the complexities of women’s bonds.

Nancy K. Miller describes her friendships with three well-known scholars and literary critics: Carolyn Heilbrun, Diane Middlebrook, and Naomi Schor. Their relationships were simultaneously intimate and professional, emotional and intellectual, animated by the ferment of the women’s movement. Friendships like these sustained the generation of women whose entrance into male-dominated professions is still reshaping American society. The stories of their intertwined lives and books embody feminism’s belief in the political importance of personal experience. Reflecting on aging and loss, ambition and rivalry, competition and collaboration, Miller shows why and how friendship’s ties matter in the worlds of work and love. Inspired in part by the portraits of the intensely enmeshed lives in Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan novels, My Brilliant Friends provides a passionate and timely vision of friendship between women.
In this astute, passionate, rigorously honest book about her friendships with three extraordinary women, Miller delineates the mysterious geography of those attachments we are not born into, but choose freely. The longing, pain, confusion, envy, and joy that inhabit the often unarticulated distance between "me” and “you” are so alive on these pages, they are still resonating inside me. I loved reading this book. Siri Hustvedt, author of A Woman Looking at Men Looking at Women
In My Brilliant Friends, Nancy K. Miller depicts the life-altering importance of deep and nourishing friendships between and among women. Through vivid details and Miller’s singular point of view, we witness her transformative relationships with Carolyn Heilbrun, Naomi Schor, and Diane Middlebrook and their enduring love, growth, and collective power. Min Jin Lee, author of Free Food for Millionaires and Pachinko, a finalist for the National Book Award
Of Nancy K. Miller's many illuminating books, My Brilliant Friends may be my favorite—for its sculpted lucidity, its lancing details, its interlocking plots, and its virtuoso attention to emotional ambivalence. Like Hilton Als's The Women, Miller's book is a classic triple-decker account of entanglement and rupture. She reminds us, with a witty yet mournful gracefulness, that every friendship is a complex work of art, demanding fastidious analysis and enraptured recounting. Wayne Koestenbaum, author of My 1980s & Other Essays
A new book by Nancy K. Miller is always a treat. This compulsively readable triptych of her friendships with Carolyn Heilbrun, Naomi Schor, and Diane Middlebrook will touch, delight, and enlighten anyone who has grown up under the influence of feminism. Susan Gubar, author of The Woman Writer and the Nineteenth-Century Literary Imagination
Nancy K. Miller writes with shimmering intelligence, grace, courage, and hard-won candor about her friendships with three other significant writers, all feminists, now all dead: Carolyn Heilbrun, Naomi Schor, and Diane Middlebrook. Miller herself is surviving cancer. Both heartbreaking and life-sustaining, My Brilliant Friends proves that death can be the mother of beauty. Catharine R. Stimpson, University Professor and Dean Emerita, Graduate School of Arts and Science, New York University
Nancy K. Miller has a gift for friendship and a mind for memoir. Reflecting on feminism, ambition, competition, and loss in these candid, tender stories of three passionate women intellectuals who died too soon, she has given a gift to readers who know the importance and complexity of female friendship. Elaine Showalter, professor emerita of English, Princeton University
I loved reading My Brilliant Friends. It’s a fascinating and revealing look at the texture—good and bad—of feminist friendships, and, crucially, academic life for women. It is also an inspiring testament to three remarkable feminists, each operating in her own style. An important book for generations of feminists—those established, and those to come. Hillary Chute, author of Graphic Women: Life Narrative and Contemporary Comics
A stunning elegy to the intimacy of friendships among women, and a book in which closeness is felt through the act of thinking. Maggie Taft, Booklist (starred review)
The result is a compassionate homage to the book’s three extraordinary subjects. My Brilliant Friends is not memoir as therapy, but memoir as monument....Unlike so many confessional documents, My Brilliant Friends is written in a genuinely exceptional circumstance by a genuinely exceptional person. Times Literary Supplement
A pellucid and absorbing study on the ambivalent and less frequently explored facets of friendship – the painful coexistence, for instance, of envy, competitiveness, and resentment, on the one hand, and love and admiration, on the other. Contemporary Women's Writing
Miller is a nimble writer, more than capable of exploring a larger world. And the world of women's friendships contain multitudes. Women's Review of Books
It really doesn't get much better than this for me. Nina Collins, What Would Virginia Woolf Do?
Miller’s book, a brave and beautiful act of storytelling, is itself a gift — to her brilliant friends, to feminism, to friendship, to the literary endeavor, and to all of her readers. Jenny McPhee, Los Angeles Review of Books
Prelude: The Art of Losing
1. Carolyn Heilbrun
2. Naomi Schor
3. Diane Middlebrook
Endpieces
Elegy : Ann Patchett and Lucy Grealy
Dialogue in a Garden: Patricia Yaeger
Notes on Loss
Notes
Acknowledgments

About the Author

Nancy K. Miller teaches life writing and cultural criticism at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She is the author of Getting Personal: Feminist Occasions and Other Autobiographical Acts (1991) and But Enough About Me: Why We Read Other People’s Lives (Columbia, 2002), as well as the memoir Breathless: An American Girl in Paris (2013).