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Desert Companion

Zeit: A book for this (or any) season

We want to say that Decemberlands, by local writer and occasional Desert Companion contributor Greg Blake Miller — a slim, highly readable volume of three short stories with holiday themes — would make a great stocking stuffer. But that would shortchange the book: By the time the recipient opens it on December 25, he or she will be pretty much holidayed-out. And it would be a shame to set aside a book that, really, isn’t about seasonal clichés.

“When I wrote these stories,” Miller tells us, “I had been thinking a lot about the tension between humility and grandiosity, and the way that life — especially family life — calls upon us from time to time to put our dreams on the back-burner and attend to the quiet business of taking care of the people around us. It’s not an easy thing to do, particularly in a culture that blurs the line between fame and fulfillment. It struck me that one role of the holidays in our culture has been, or ought to be, to remind us of this tug-of-war.”

Decemberlands’ stories range widely: from the Bronx in 1957 to 1859 England (hello, grown-up Tiny Tim!) to a timeless wilderness. “They were born,” Miller says, “like so many stories, out of images that lodged in my imagination: kid-musicians on the streets of Greenwich Village, Scrooge with the grown Tim in front of the Round Church in Cambridge, the sleigh’s crash-landing in the mountains. The image meets the idea, and you’re off and running.” Get your copy at

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