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‘The Movie Assassin’ by Sarah Miller

— Melissa Mesku

If she met a writer who was unsuccessful, she always thought either, “Oh, they are either extremely untalented, or they are still trying to be themselves—what an idiot.”

I have been diligently writing here once a week since the beginning of the year. This sunny summer, I also wrote for a different publication; next week I start at another one, a larger one. All this writing about craft happens concurrently alongside my “real” writing, mostly essays, which are being published in progressively larger publications. No one in the world gives a good goddamn, but to me, it feels like it’s going somewhere. Like I’m building something, or at least building toward something.

That was the feeling Sarah Miller had as a young writer, which she discusses in this beautifully wrought essay. Set in mid-nineties Philadelphia, it feels like lo-fi Gen-X noir: Trainspotting, high tops, The Folk Implosion, second tier alt-weeklies. That the audience knows what’s coming is what casts a pall over it. The lust for life overdosed. Print died. And the dream life (for Miller, cheap rent and a paying gig writing honest reviews) imploded along with it.

I haven’t yet seen my own sunny heyday recast as noir. But this week, reading about Miller building something, or at least building toward something, and then seeing where she took it, has cast a pall over my sunny horizon, one I can’t turn my eyes from.


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