Adrianne Mathiowetz's Reviews > No One Belongs Here More Than You

No One Belongs Here More Than You by Miranda July
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Jun 12, 08

Read in June, 2008

I love many of these stories for the same reasons I dislike others: a surreal, distanced narrative, startling plot turns, unexpected sexuality (between friends, sisters, ghost blob rapists -- what?), and the occasional, perfectly placed line: la. When it works, it's an epiphany in originality, a "how did she even think of that", meaningful and lovely. When it doesn't work, all of the above elements seem forced, formulaic, churned through the quirk machine.

July is at her best when the oddity is just under the surface: I loved "The Man on the Stairs" (there is an intruder in a couple's home late at night -- or, maybe not), "Something That Needs Nothing" (two teenage girls run away together and struggle to pay the rent, dabbling in the sex industry), Mon Plaisir (a couple constructs a new relationship around their roles as extras in a film), and Birthmark (a birthmark is removed, then reappears). And all of her stories have amazing first sentences. You could teach a creative writing class, having students write new stories from those beginnings.

But everything that is discouraging about the kind of fiction that gets published today is embodied in "The Swim Team". A young woman mysteriously relocates to a small town in the middle of nowhere, depressed, silent and unemployed: after an odd outburst in a convenience store (letting everyone know that you can't breathe underwater), she winds up teaching swim lessons to its senior citizens. Only, there aren't any bodies of water in this town. So she teaches the lessons in her kitchen, having the old folks push themselves across the linoleum floor, pressing their faces into bowls filled with saltwater. "Isn't this odd?" the story kept crying. "Now it's getting odder! Wait, what significance does all of this have, again? Never mind, more oddness!"

Some favorite lines:

"To my horror, I felt hunger. The body's expression of hope."

"We were always getting away with something, which implied that someone was always watching us, which meant we were not alone in this world."

"I hated my job, but I liked that I could do it. I had once believed in a precious inner self, but now I didn't. I had thought that I was fragile, but I wasn't. It was like suddenly being good at sports."

"She marveled at this, and I laughed and said, Life is easy. What I meant was, Life is easy with you here, and when you leave, it will be hard again."

"Inelegantly and without my consent, time passed."
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Todd (new)

Todd Johnson The website for this book totally kicked ass.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

It is funny...the quirk machine...you nailed it. We have been deluged. I have not decided if it is purposefully done (by her) or not. I guess it does not really matter though. The story either worked or it did not.

"Something That Needs Nothing" was definitely the star of the show for me.


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