A book I always like to give away as a present is Miranda July’s first collection of short stories, “No one belongs here more than you”. They are all brilliant, weird, and heart-shaking in their own way. You can’t really go wrong with it, there is something for everyone in it, and it always tells you something new.
With July’s first novel, “The First Bad Man”, it’s a little different. Even though it says on the back cover that I need to buy this twice and give one to a friend, I hesitated to do so. Don’t get me wrong: I enjoyed reading it, and there were many scenes and ideas I really liked: The Globus Hystericus for example, which appears to be the narrator’s main concern at first. Her visits to the doctor weave a beautiful and sad connection between the characters, and strain a golden thread throughout the book. Miranda July has great talent to subtly create scenes and spaces—I immediately felt as a neighbor or observer, hanging around somewhere in the vast, sunny and empty streets of Los Angeles. In a way, the whole story felt a bit like a rumor being spread in the neighborhood—a rumor about this really strange person and her gardener, a story about violence, unrequited love and parenthood.
Before thinking about giving this novel away as a present, I do recommend to read it for yourself first. It’s not for everyone. Also: The german title is “Der erste fiese Typ”, and this just sounds so wrong and absolutely not how Miranda July would speak; you should read it in english if you can.
For the book launch, Miranda created an online store where she sold artefacts that make an appearance in the book. A broken vase, a long dress with many buttons, a spoon or an old envelope—by now it’s all sold. July always adds a layer to everything. I still love that about her.
Read also: My book review on Fridolin Schley’s “Wildes, Schönes Tier” (german)