The instant New York Times bestseller is “astonishing…In one novel, Miranda July tells us more about our universal need to be loved, and our ability to love and be loved, than most earthbound authors will in a lifetime” (Vanity Fair).
In The First Bad Man, Miranda July tells the story of Cheryl, a vulnerable, uptight woman in her early forties who lives alone, with a perpetual lump in her throat, unable to cry. Cheryl is haunted by a baby boy she met when she was six; she also believes she has a profound connection with Phillip, a philandering board member at Open Palm, the women’s self-defense studio where she has worked for twenty years.
When Cheryl’s bosses ask if their twenty-one-year-old daughter Clee can move into her house for a little while, Cheryl’s eccentrically ordered world explodes. And yet it is Clee—the selfish, cruel blond bombshell—who teaches Cheryl what it means to love and be loved and, inadvertently, provides the solace of a lifetime.
“Brilliant, hilarious, irreverent, piercing—The First Bad Man powers past sexual boundaries and gender identification into the surprising galaxy of primal connection” (O, The Oprah Magazine).
This is a spectacularly original, unsettling, accomplished, and moving first novel with a tender and beguiling happy ending.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Eight years after the release of her short story collection No One Belongs Here More Than You, contemporary Renaissance woman Miranda July—an artist, filmmaker (Me and You and Everyone We Know), and the creator of the app Somebody—has published a debut novel that’s unabashedly strange and extremely compelling. We love the off-kilter humour and intriguing observations of July’s heroine, Cheryl Glickman. The 40-year-old single woman moves through life befuddled by other people, but she’s also uncannily good at telling the truth.
July (No One Belongs Here More than You) successfully transitions from short stories to her first novel, introducing eccentric 40-something Cheryl Glickman in a tale about role-playing. In addition to sexual fantasies featuring her senior co-worker Phillip, unmarried Cheryl also imagines a perennial connection with babies. Her world is flipped upside down when Clee, her boss's 20-year-old daughter, moves in until she can get on her feet. Cheryl's fantasies soon involve Clee with any man that passes by, and she becomes aroused when Clee plays along with self-defense scenarios. When Phillip starts a relationship with a 16-year-old girl, Cheryl grows closer with Clee, switching between roles as her enemy, sparring partner, mother, grandmother, aunt, and girlfriend. Other characters give, or refuse to give, their own performances, including Clee's parents, who refuse to act as grandparents when she gets pregnant, and Cheryl's therapist, who plays mistress to the other office doctor. Cheryl and Clee's simulated fights in the first half will remind readers of July's peculiar short-story style, but the book hits its stride in the second half when Cheryl helps Clee through her pregnancy. July's writing is strange and beautiful, with enough cleverness woven into the characters' strange fantasy lives to keep readers contemplating the family roles and games adults undertake.