If Only the Names Were Changed | Andrew Miller

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miller if only5.JPG

If Only the Names Were Changed | Andrew Miller

14.00

186 pages | Civil Coping Mechanisms

Columbus-based writer Andrew Miller presents a scathing critique of his own life, examining everywhere he went wrong and how he got there, leaving no stone unturned. Addiction, abuse, death, heartbreak—like Hemingway said, one can easily imagine Miller sitting down to write, and simply bleeding.

But what sets If Only the Names Were Changed apart from other memoirs is that Miller owns up to his mistakes. He recognizes his privilege, and constantly checks it, which is extremely refreshing coming from any white male writer. The book reads almost like Bukowski, only if Bukowski strove toward self-improvement. (Wouldn't that be nice?)

There's no doubt that Miller has led an interesting life, with its joyful highs and crushing lows (although here he tends to focus more on the lows). This we can expect from any memoir. But this book is worth a read because of his accessible prose that draws you in. And while you, the reader, can easily empathize with him, he invites you to be critical of him—and by extension, be more critical of other white men who fuck up, whether apologetically or not. With If Only the Names Were Changed you not only get some wonderfully told, page-turning stories, but you get some lessons in humility as well. What more could you want in a book?

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