"These stories are incredibly charming, beautifully written, frequently laugh-out-loud funny, and even, a dozen or so times, profound. Miranda July is a very real writer, and has one of the most original voices to appear in fiction in many years. Fans of Lorrie Moore should rub this book all over themselves she's got that perfect balance of humor and pathos. There has been no more enjoyable and promising a debut collection in many a moon." Dave Eggers
"These delightful stories do that essential-but-rare story thing: they surprise. They skip past the quotidian, the merely real, to the essential, and do so with a spirit of tenderness and wonder that is wholly unique. They are (let me coin a phrase) July-esque, which is to say: infused with wonder at the things of the world." George Saunders, author of In Persuasion Nation
"Miranda July's is a beautiful, odd, original voice seductive, sometimes erotic, and a little creepy, too." David Byrne
"A woman gives swimming lessons in her kitchen of course! Miranda July can make anything seem normal in these truly original stories. She has first-rate comic timing and a generous view of the human condition. Maybe best of all, there's joy here, too, often where you would not expect to find it." Amy Hempel, author of The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel
Already a darling of the indie avant-garde, performance artist and award-winning film director Miranda July now storms the literary ramparts with a collection of transcendent short fiction that adds luster to her reputation. Peppered with startling (and sometimes shocking) plot twists, the 16 stories in this anthology feature lonely misfits riddled with eccentricities, longing for connection, and desperate to invent some happiness in a world that throws up barriers at every turn. As she did so memorably in her art house hit Me and You and Everyone We Know, July forces us to see the humanity in people who are less than lovable, laying bare their vulnerabilities with exquisite and unexpected tenderness. With rave reviews from respected literati like Dave Eggars, Rick Moody, and George Saunders, this debut collection seems poised to make a big splash.
… there are stories like “Something That Needs Nothing,” about two girls who run away together. This is July at her best — funny and insightful, offering moments of utter heartbreak through deeper, more sophisticated storytelling. The exploits of the narrator and her girlfriend, Pip, who “saw herself as a charming street urchin, a pet for wealthy mothers,” as they cope with a roach-infested apartment, break up and reconnect, are both tender and gripping. Even as the narrator discovers a talent for peeling off her clothes in a grimy peep-booth, one can’t help rooting for her, awkwardness and all.
The New York Times
It's a testament to July's artistry that the narrators of this arresting first collection elicit empathy rather than groans. "Making Love in 2003," for example, follows a young woman's dubious trajectory from being the passive, discarded object of her writing professor's attentions to seducing a 14-year-old boy in the special-needs class she teaches, while another young woman enters the sex industry when her girlfriend abandons her, with a surprising effect on the relationship. July's characters over these 16 stories get into similarly extreme situations in their quests to be loved and accepted, and often resort to their fantasy lives when the real world disappoints (which is often): the self-effacing narrator of "The Shared Patio" concocts a touching romance around her epilectic Korean neighbor; the aging single man of "The Sister" weaves an elaborate fantasy around his factory colleague Victor's teenage sister (who doesn't exist) to seduce someone else. July's single emotional register is familiar from her film Me and You and Everyone We Know, but it's a capacious one: wry, wistful, vulnerable, tough and tender, it fully accommodates moments of bleak human reversals. These stories are as immediate and distressing as confessionals. (May) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
A filmmaker (Me and You and Everyone We Know) and multimedia artist (www.learningtoloveyoumore.com), July brings her trademark whimsy to this debut story collection. The protagonists here are lonely dreamers, and what they dream about is often a little creepy: a territorial type, wondering whether she is getting her money's worth out of the patio she has to share, falls asleep while her neighbor has a seizure on the bench beside her; a middle-aged woman fantasizes about seducing Prince William to the sounds of Mike and the Mechanics; a disgruntled secretary goes to absurd lengths to befriend her boss's wife. Betrayals small and large seem to be the norm, and inappropriate sex abounds: student-teacher, therapist-patient, consensual incest, molestation. Some of these couplings are startling, but others are clich s that drag down an otherwise witty and unusual book. The best moments here are small-a spectacular failure in sewing class, an unexpected visit from a neighborhood boy, a lost dog named Potato-and as they accrue the collection becomes an exhilarating read.-Leora Bersohn, doctoral student, Columbia Univ., New York Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
An accomplished debut collection of 16 stories, simultaneously bizarre and achingly familiar. July wrote, directed and starred in the indie film Me and You and Everyone We Know, and the same slightly anguished humor informs these stories, peopled by misfits and loners not quite apprised of their own lowly status. The characters interact tentatively, inappropriately. They are dangerously lonesome people (despite their naive attempts to connect) who have a lot of awkward sex. In "The Sister," an old bachelor is fixed up by fellow factory worker Victor. Victor's sister Blanca is always just out of sight, misses dates, becomes the stuff of mythology between the two men-until it becomes clear on a drugged-out night what Victor's intentions really are. The longest of the collection, "Something That Needs Nothing," follows two lesbians after high-school graduation as they run away to Portland, Ore. There they rent a cockroach-infested studio and try to find work, preferably one servicing an older woman willing to support them. Things don't work out quite so dreamily, as one girl abandons the other to earn a living at Mr. Peeps Adult Video Store and More. "Mon Plaisir" traces a couple's decline from passionless (including some of the saddest sex possible-he "nurses" her while she masturbates) to mute, as they find they like each other more when they get work as extras in a movie. There are a number of evocative short pieces-a woman teaches some seniors how to swim, a teacher believes her teenage poltergeist lover has taken the form of one of her Special Ed students, a woman who has had a port-stain birthmark removed from her face wonders if her husband would love her if she still had it. Thestories have an otherworldly quality, but instead of being fantastical, they are emblematic of a modern loneliness in which the boundaries of normal behavior become useless, where the best that can be hoped for is a kind of aggressive voyeurism. A smart, original collection.