“If you only read the books that everyone else is reading, you can only think what everyone else is thinking.”

HAKURI MURAKAMI

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March 17, 2020

Miranda July’s novel The First Bad Man is weird. I definitely liked it, but it’s really weird. There’s not really a single normal character in the entirety of the book. But maybe it’s not that characters are so weird, but it’s that the characters are so open about their peculiarities. The world that July presents, much like the worlds that she presents in her acclaimed shorter works of fiction and her films, is one where people are shockingly willing to disclose the intimate details of their private lives.

The story takes place in Los Angeles and the reader is given the perspective of Cheryl Glickman, a forty year old woman who lives alone and works for a nonprofit. The nonprofit is called Open Palm, an organization that mostly makes self-defense fitness videos. Cheryl is infatuated with Phillip, a sixty year old board member of Open Palm; she believes that she and Phillip have been in love in all of their past lives. She starts to, in her words, “show him some heat,” and when he seemin...

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