A Litany in Time of Plague is K.D. Miller's first collection of short fiction. The `plague' of the title story is a reference not only to AIDS but to its ironic companion, loneliness.
Miller's child characters are like little aliens dropped into a world that wavers from incomprehensible to bewildering, and yet, there is a knowing in them, an attunement to the `voice under the voice' that is disquieting. In `This Is Important' in Litany in Time of Plague, Arley is being questioned by her mother and a policeman about the man who followed her home from Brownies in his car. As she listens to them, she remembers the man `who came out of the dark. He was like a piece of the dark' and, unlike the policeman and her mother, talked to her `in his real voice,' and treated her with respect and courtesy. `Nobody ever talked to me like that before.... It was harder to say no thank you that time.' The dark stranger comes to represent the answer to all the mysteries the grownups withhold from her, the knowledge of good and evil, like the serpent in the Garden of Eden. Only when she hears through to the need and fear beneath his voice, does she turn away.
Each of the characters in the ten linked stories comes to the end of his or her spiritual rope. Kelly attends a Requiem Mass where she adds her and her ex-husband's names to a list of the dead. Arley pursues a dangerous fantasy down one dark alley after another. Raymond learns that his inability to love is exactly matched by his need to do just that.