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Milk: A Novel
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Milk: A Novel

3.25  ·  Rating details ·  226 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
"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 fantasize about sex. She seeks refuge in her old friend Walter, a lonely gay Episcopal priest, who privately struggles with his own contradi ...more
Kindle Edition
Published (first published 2005)
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(showing 1-30)
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Dec 01, 2007 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
Oct 15, 2012 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
Aug 18, 2012 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 08, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Patricia Geller
Aug 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very short book with three main characters all searching for the meaning ofspirituality and it's connection to sexuality. Never read anything quite like it but found it compelling.
May 23, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Although I finished this book because it was a small book, hoping it would make sense. It didn't.
Booklover 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
Jan 16, 2008 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
Gail Marie
Jan 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 09, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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 10, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Mar 07, 2010 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)
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?
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.
Aug 30, 2007 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.
Jan 23, 2009 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.
Sep 30, 2012 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.
Oritte Bendory
Small and beautiful book with provocative ideas. Sexually charged and unabashed perspective of motherhood.
May 07, 2011 added it
Most Excellent
Aug 10, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book was depressing and almost seemed pointless. It had its moments though.
Sep 27, 2010 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.
May 21, 2008 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!
Apr 19, 2011 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.
Chelsea Wells
Jan 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Quiet and haunting.
Dec 18, 2015 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...
not as good as Jesus Saves.
Valeria Iglesias
Feb 06, 2013 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.
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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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