The First Bad Man
by Miranda July
Miranda July is seemingly quite good at most things. She’s an artist, a filmmaker, an actor and a writer whose work always portrays a sort of nervy, kooky, intelligent energy. I fell in love with the sweetness, care and piercing sincerity of her film Me You and Everyone We Know and have keenly followed her progress since.
In 2007 she published her first novel No One Belongs Here More Than You, which again turned out to be not only well written but also insightful and funny. Since then a ring of celebrity fans have swarmed around her like bees to honey. She has appeared in a music video by the recently resurrected ‘riot grrl’ band Sleater-Kinney. She’s been hailed as great and wonderful by Girls writer and star Lena Dunham. All of which is a perfect way of gathering cool points in today’s entertainment and art market, but at what cost for her artistic output?
Cheryl Glickman is halfway through a strange and seemingly unfulfilled life when a younger roommate is forced upon her. Cheryl deals with the intrusion in a very magnanimous manner even though the roommate, Clee, is to say the least a proper pain the arse. The two of them establish an aggressive interaction which one assumes only can lead to Cheryl’s ultimate downfall, if not death. Nevertheless, the relationship morphs and morphs and what at first seemed like plain wrong transforms to something nearly positive for them both.
The recurring themes are violence, power and conceiving offspring. It is a psychological novel, which queries the largest question of life – death – via these themes. Given that the author herself is a new mom, this is perhaps not so strange, and with that information in pocket it can at times seem a tiny bit wearing to those of us that have not gone through the procreating kerfuffle, whether by choice or not, to have to ponder these issues that are so important to (some) parents.
Nevertheless, this is mainly an offbeat novel that has come about with sometimes painfully honesty, and which is for sure an interesting read even if to this reviewer it’s not as interesting as some of the other stuff produced by this prodigious wearer of hats.