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Milk: A Novel

3.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  212 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
From a writer of remarkable depth and courage, a brilliant and haunting novel that explores the intersection of spirituality and sexuality.

Mary is a new mother transformed by the birth of her baby. She is infatuated with the tiny creature, yet feels abandoned by her husband. As her baby sleeps in his crib, she doesn't know whether to kneel in her coat closet and pray or fa
Hardcover, 144 pages
Published February 15th 2005 by Bloomsbury USA (first published 2005)
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(showing 1-30 of 359)
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Oct 15, 2012 Joe rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“I understand my soul is like a piece of God implanted in me, and while it’s the same substance as God, it’s much more cloudy because it’s so hard to be human.” --I'm not sure what I could write that would better entice you to read Steinke's Milk than that quotation from the brief novel. But I will add a warning of sorts: Milk, despite its title, does not offer a big-eyed, happy approach to religion. When I assigned this book as a reading several years ago, one student told me she threw it again ...more
Feb 19, 2008 Rachel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really did enjoy this book-- the characters were fleshed out in a rather uncommon and convincing way. I like reading fiction about spiritual and religious confusion. Even more, I like books that convey spiritual dilemmas in lyrical and sensual physical detail.

The only thing I didn't like about it was its kind of underlying New Yorkish glib hipness. Parts of it seemed almost condescendingly ironic, etc. At one point, Steinke has one of her characters make fun of Barbara Kingsolver's "middlebro
Aug 18, 2012 J rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you're a Mad Men fan, you'll probably like this book.

Follows the exploits of Mary, a religious-or-legitimately-crazy mother, John, a lost-faith-to-lust monk, and Walter, a failing, gay pastor. The events of their world are given in each character’s specific point of view, filling in their lives and telling how and why they interact with others the way they do. What is to be discovered is a painful decline of the self matched in detail with a new-dressed, wintry season culling sunlight from t
Oct 09, 2014 Corey rated it it was amazing
Darcey Steinke is one sharp writer and this is a hard-edged gem.
Catherine Handren
Ugh. I mean I read it. I guess it held my interest but let's just say it had a few problems. Like the ending for instance. I threw the book across the room.
G. Marie
Jan 27, 2014 G. Marie rated it it was amazing
I saw this little book on the library shelf while looking for another title on a Saturday afternoon. On my way home from the library I stopped at one of my favorite bars, one that gets good afternoon sunlight, and read the whole thing. On Sunday I reread my favorite parts. Today, Monday, I bought a copy on Amazon.

This is not a fun read. Everything is struggle, even (sometimes) joy. The story captures a couple months in the lives of a few people who live with as much awareness of their own and ot
Aug 01, 2010 tee rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: i-own
I don't know whether it is my aversity to anything religion/god-related, but I didn't really like this one by Steinke. Regardless of how I feel about christianity, I also found the writing a little detached and self-aware - most of the time I found myself focusing more on Steinke's sentence structure and vocabulary, than the actual book itself. I just couldn't lose myself in it. The characters didn't interest me and the plot - if you can call it that, seemed like a sketchy outline that needed to ...more
Lady Ethereal Butterfly
Milk was not my first experience reading Darcey Steinke’s work. I read Suicide Blonde by Steinke back in 2008, and adored it, so I was thrilled about reading another book with her mesmerizing ideas and fluid writing style. Milk is about the intersecting lives of three characters: Mary, new mother, who has some personal and emotional problems; John, a former monk, who seeks the pleasure of a woman’s flesh; and Walter, an Episcopal priest, who struggles with his homosexual desires. Milk combines r ...more
This is called Milk: A Novel, but maybe should be called Milk: Three Short Stories. I bought this because Darcey Steinke read at CalArts and said it was inspired by the idea that all sex is divine/holy. I liked this idea. I liked this book insofar as it was like looking at people through windows. But I found the writing to be very aware of itself. Or maybe I was very aware of it as writing. I really liked Mary as a character, but I wanted to be in her head more- Seeing her so much from the outsi ...more
Dec 21, 2015 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
beautifully written and rather thought-provoking... knda rambly and scattered, but that seemed to be intentional...
Aug 09, 2007 Heath rated it really liked it
At about 130 pages, this is a really quick read. I completed it between bedtime last night and this morning upon arriving at work. It's a fascinating story, a love triangle of sorts between a former monk, an Episcopalian priest, and a young mother whose world is unraveling. There's an oddly circular quality to the story, and I'm not sure I entirely understand what happened -- were their two children? Just the one? -- but the feeling of seeking and emptiness resounds strongly. An excellent first ...more
Chelsea Wells
Jan 23, 2015 Chelsea Wells rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quiet and haunting.
Jul 12, 2015 Lisa rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
No plot, no point
I'm biased because Darcey was my advisor during graduate school and I really love the way she writes about sexuality and sensuality. I am such a fan that it would be really easy to me to write this sappy review, but I won't. Darcey would expect more from me.

that said...

Fantastic. There really isn't a lot out there like this. In fact I would venture to guess a lot of stuff that's coming down the pike now owes a lot to this book. It's all that.
Jan 23, 2009 kaity rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I checked out this book because it's small and fits nicely on the elliptical machine at work.

It's sort of an R-rated Francesca Lia Block book, all about beautiful images with substance a little lacking. But I have a soft spot for lonely gay men and lonely single mothers so I didn't hate it.
Mar 14, 2010 Sara rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Best lines in the book: "Kathy's head moved up and down like the needle in a sewing machine, and her eyes were open, the pupils dilated big as dimes. On the nape of her neck was a small scar. Pleasure had been rerouted over humanity and he wanted to try and change that." (107)
Oct 19, 2007 Lydia rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: adults
Others in my book club didn't like this book because the 3 characters left them depressed about the human condition. I, however, thought it very interesting, slice-of-life, well written book. All the characters were longing for the milk of human kindness.
Timothy Hall
I don't know whether to think of this book as a reiteration of the Canaanite coupling of religion and sex or a presentation of Sensucht, in which the unconsolable longing for our true country and Father is dimly revealed through sexual desire.
Darcie Kileen
The author writes a lot about breastfeeding. A lot. More than I really cared to read, but I guess the title should have clued me in.

This book is a bit of a downer, but I enjoyed the theological themes that run throughout.
Jeff Laughlin
This is a depressing jaunt inside the minds of confused folk. people should read this lady's bookstuffs. This is not the one I would start with, but it is the one I would finish with-- that says a little, right?
Dec 08, 2007 Christopher rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This made me rethink my own spirituality. Fully perceptive on how our spirits and bodies are inescapable from each other. I've read it twice and every time I hit the last page, I want more.
Mar 22, 2008 Kristina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautiful prose. On first read, I found myself getting lost in Steinke's mastery of craft more than I was in the content. This is one I will want and need to read again...and again.
Sep 30, 2012 Rebecka rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Maybe I'm just not sophisticated enough, but I did not get it. What was the plot? Was this just observational? It was a story with no story really. I did not like it at all.
Jul 27, 2013 Danni rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2012
Another dollar store find. A mercifully short book, I found myself lookint at the characters with contempt rather than the empathy the author was very obviously gunning for.
Apr 19, 2011 Lori rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This was one of those very odd books. I bought it at the used book sale at a local library. Not sure I would recommend it unless you like quirky books.
Valeria Iglesias
May 05, 2013 Valeria Iglesias rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I loved it!
I have read a Spanish translation, though. And it was translated into Spain Spanish (I am from Argentina) I would like to re-read it in English.
May 21, 2008 Anthony rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
it's a quick read, but it leaves you thinking. i definitely recommend this book and am totally interested in hearing people's interpretations!
Aug 19, 2010 Christa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 50-book-10
Steinke is really amazing at describing realistic fantasies and awkward sexual encounters with a bit of the profane and the divine.
Kim Miller-Davis
Dec 28, 2012 Kim Miller-Davis rated it it was ok
An earlier reviewer said that she threw this book against the wall after finishing it. I felt like doing the same thing.
Sep 27, 2010 Narida rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book my first winter in Chicago. Passages from it still float through my head even now.
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Darcey Steinke is the daughter of a Lutheran minister. She grew up in upstate New York; Connecticut; Philadelphia; and Roanoke, Virginia. She is a graduate of Cave Spring High School, Goucher College, and the University of Virginia, where she received a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing. She also completed a Stegner Fellowship at Stanford University.

Steinke teaches creative writing at Princ
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