Book Review | The First Bad Man by Miranda July


firstI love Miranda July’s movies: Back and forth forever, you know? If you don’t know what I’m talking about, you should get on that, because Me You and Everyone We Know is one of the most bizarre, sweet, lovely, horrifying movies I’ve ever seen. Do you need a white guy’s opinion to believe me? Okay – Roger Ebert named it one of the top five movies of the decade.

So she’s a great filmmaker, but is she a great novelist? Oh holy cow is she ever! The audience for The First Bad Man is the exact audience for her movies so if you like her movies, you’re in luck. If you don’t, you should skip this.

The story is super bizarre from the beginning and just gets weirder. Our protagonist is a woman who’s lonely but doesn’t seem to know it yet. She has a lot of weird, complicated “systems” (re: rituals) and lives her life in a very specific and bizarre way, so when her bosses convince her (re: bully her) into allowing their daughter to live with her, well, things get interesting.

And by interesting I mean that this shit is FUCKED UP. At first it’s cutely weird. Then sort of puzzlingly weird. And then there came a point when I was like, “Holy shit, Miranda, really? This is FUCKED UP.” But I kept reading anyway because it’s not beautiful and lovely in spite of this fucked-upedness, it’s beautiful and lovely because of it.

If you want to read a book that will really get in your head, that will make you uncomfortable, and will make you look at the world just a little bit differently, then this is a book to pick up.

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