Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

July 12, 2022 @ 6:00 pm

Total and Reward System: A Virtual Evening with Rebecca Miller, Jem Calder and Jessie Gaynor


July 12, 2022
6:00 pm



Books & Books, Literati Bookstore and Community Bookstore present

A Virtual Evening with

Rebecca Miller and Jem Calder

in conversation with

Jessie Gaynor


Total: Stories and Reward System: Stories

(Farrar, Straus and Giroux, $25 and $27)

Tuesday, July 12, 6 PM ET | On Zoom


About the Books:

Rebecca Miller returns to short fiction for the first time since her collection of stories, Personal Velocity, with the arresting, darkly prescient Total.

From Dublin to Martha’s Vineyard, from the anxious comforts of motherhood to a technologically infected near future that mirrors today with dark prescience, each of the seven stories in Total is a world of its own, painted with vivid strokes, whose people and questions stay with the reader long after the story has ended. Joad, one of the first characters we meet, finds onionskin pages crammed in a locked desk drawer while refurbishing a Hudson Valley farmhouse; the terrifying words on the fragile paper haunt Joad and her husband, the woman who wrote them looming over the couple like a malevolent spirit. Her words embody the power of the act of creation and the insidious, untamable force of language once it has left one’s pen.

Rebecca Miller, the author of The Private Lives of Pippa Lee and Jacob’s Folly, returns to short fiction for the first time since her prodigious collection Personal Velocity. The author and award-winning filmmaker has “the soaring eye of the epicist and the sly instinct of the satirist” (The New Yorker), and her talents are on full display in Total. Each voice and life captured in these haunting stories is unforgettable.


Reward System is an exhilarating and beautiful book by an extraordinarily gifted writer. Reading these stories, I found myself thinking newly and differently about contemporary life.”
—Sally Rooney, author of Beautiful World, Where Are You

Julia has landed a fresh start—at a “pan-European” restaurant.
“Imagine that,” says her mother.
“I’m imagining.”

Nick is flirting with sobriety and nobody else. Did you know adults his age are now more likely to live with their parents than with a romantic partner?

Life should have started to take shape by now—but instead we’re trying on new versions of ourselves, swiping left and right, searching for a convincing answer to that question: “What do you do?”

Jem Calder’s Reward System is a set of ultra-contemporary and electrifyingly fresh fictions about work, relationships, and the strange loop of technology and the self. They are about a generation on the cusp: the story of two people enmeshed in Zooms and lockdowns, loneliness and love, devices and desires. Hyperaware but also deeply confused about who they are, Julia and Nick reveal the way we live now in a startling new light.


About the Authors:

REBECCA MILLER is the author of the short-story collection Personal Velocity, her feature-film adaptation of which won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance; The Private Lives of Pippa Lee (FSG, 2008), which she also adapted for the screen; and, most recently, Jacob’s Folly (FSG, 2013). Her other films include Angela, The Ballad of Jack and Rose, and Maggie’s Plan. She lives in New York and Ireland with her family.

JEM CALDER was born in Cambridge, and lives and works in London. His first two completed stories were published in The Stinging Fly and Granta.

About the Moderator:

JESSIE GAYNOR is a senior editor at Lit Hub whose writing has appeared in McSweeney’s, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, and elsewhere. Her first novel, The Glow, is forthcoming from Random House.