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The First Bad Man

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  24,157 ratings  ·  2,999 reviews
From the acclaimed filmmaker, artist, and bestselling author of No One Belongs Here More Than You, a spectacular debut novel that is so heartbreaking, so dirty, so tender, so funny--so Miranda July--readers will be blown away.

Here is Cheryl, a tightly-wound, vulnerable woman who lives alone, with a perpetual lump in her throat. She is haunted by a baby boy she met when sh
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published January 13th 2015 by Scribner
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Mary Navas I had forgotten the fantasy until Zachary recalled it, but I think you've got the characters reversed. It's Cheryl running towards him. She is the sam…moreI had forgotten the fantasy until Zachary recalled it, but I think you've got the characters reversed. It's Cheryl running towards him. She is the same, engaged and loving actively, while Clee is passive. (less)
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Average rating 3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  24,157 ratings  ·  2,999 reviews

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Jul 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Oh my god this book is so totally weird and wonderful.

Reading this is kind of like watching an insane person dance. There's all these bizarre jerks and twists and feints that are completely implausible until they happen, and you open your mouth to protest but Miranda just says shh shh shh, it's going to be fine and somehow it is.

Despite being, plotwise, so bonkersly unlike anything you have ever thought of before, I don't mean to suggest that it's absurdist or surreal or Naked Lunch–ian or anyt
Jan 20, 2015 rated it it was ok
Typically when I don’t like a buzz book I delight in mocking word choices and flimsy chapters or the thin line separating the novel’s plot and the author’s bio. The book becomes a contender for worst-of-the-year and I quietly, okay not-so quietly, dare someone, anyone to write something worse.

When I don’t like a book by Miranda July, my second inclination is to assume that there must be something wrong with me.

I adore Miranda July The Artist and all the weird shit that brews behind those sligh
Jan 15, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
The first BAD book by Miranda July...not sure as it is the first and last I'll read by her. Bizarre is a good way to describe it. The main character Cheryl - mid 40's - faces anxiety with disturbing sexual fantasies. She suffers from OCD and is mentally unstable. She is unlikable and the story is just plain weird. Three quarters through and no improvement. It's a hands down loser. Throwing this one in the abandoned pile. ...more
Nov 16, 2014 rated it liked it
WOW! I have never turned on a book so quickly in my entire life. When I started it I was in LOVE with its unique, odd hilariousness. But then shit got REAL weird. Fantasy sex stuff that wasn't interesting or funny at all. Just as I'd be about to give up, July would go back to her normal funniness about something totally mundane (the Japanese "customs" of her bosses, the therapist) and I'd remember how enjoyable she is when she's just developing characters. In the end, I was really touched by the ...more
Barry Pierce
"I've been meaning to buy that one myself,"

"Yeah I saw Lena Dunham gave it a good review so I had to pick it up!"

-The interaction between the lady behind the counter in Waterstone's and I when I bought this book.

The First Bad Man is a novel that has been hyped for months. Literally every single of those "Reads to Look Out For in 2015" lists has had this one near the top. I must admit that this is my first experience with July's writing. I know she has some short stories floating around somewhere
Katie Parker
Miranda July, you wonderfully weird creature. This book is probably one of the craziest things I've ever read, but it works, absolutely and completely. She crafts sentences that make you think the world was missing something until they were written. She finds genuine humor in the sadness, and poignancy in the mundane.

"I wondered how many other women had sat on this toilet and stared at this floor. Each of them the center of their own world, all of them yearning for someone to put their love into
Dec 03, 2014 marked it as to-read
Shelves: gave-up
Waited for weeks to get it at the library. Checked it out first day. Forgot it at The Mill. Remember leaving it on the bar. Enjoy the free discard, Mill person. I am the 2nd bad man.
Feb 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: modern-lit, read-2019
I read this one for a 21st Century Literature group read.

I am struggling to decide on the rating because it is such an odd quirky mixture of styles, and I loved some parts and hated others. On the whole there are just about enough positives to justify 4 stars.

It starts brilliantly - the 40-something single narrator Cheryl has a distinctive voice that is often very funny. Things then become pretty dark and claustrophobic as her relationship with her young lodger Clee becomes confrontational, but
Paul Bryant
Jan 20, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: novels
If you take a chisel and gently chip off the elaborate encrustation of florid psychology that at times sends this novel moonwalking towards the field of dreams that is bizarro fiction but really only up to its multihued verges and peeking across, then what I think you get is the plot of the 1966 Swingin’ London film Georgy Girl blended with the lunatic character swerves and switcheroos from any Iris Murdoch novel garnished with the sweet suburban Miss Lonely atmosphere of Miranda July’s own gorg ...more
Book Mitch
i...i dont know...this was either brilliant or odd. or both. i need time to process
Jan 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: weird-stuff
In her debut novel, The First Bad Man, Miranda July presents the story of a lonely 40-something woman named Cheryl Glickman. Cheryl looks at the world in her own hopeful and peculiar way. She fantasizes about an older man who is busy seducing a teenage girl, she tries to make psychic connections to a long-lost baby named Kubelko Bondy, and she has therapy sessions with a woman who is not really a therapist and is actually having an affair with the therapist Cheryl should be seeing. When Cheryl l ...more
Anita Pomerantz
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I feel the need to give prospective readers of this book a quiz.

Do you like HBO's Girls? YES NO
Do you think you would like HBO's Girls on steroids? YES NO
Do you generally appreciate black humor? YES NO
Do you like performance art? YES NO
What if that performance art came in the form of a book? YES NO

Score each Yes with 1 point. Make sure you score at least a 4 before proceeding.

Seriously, this book is simultaneously whacked out, hysterical, disgusting, and oddly moving.

Initially I thought the book
Feb 24, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fave-fic
I'll admit, I am kind of Miranda July's target audience, and perhaps my glowing review won't be particularly surprising. Other than her film The Future (like, I'm sure it's brilliant, but if I wanted to be super sad about cats I'd just go to my local pet shop) I've been into everything else she's ever done and this probably isn't a super impartial review so take this with a gain of salt of whatever.

This book somehow perfectly captures all the sad ugliness that exists in a mediocre life, specific
Mar 14, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2015
Well, I finished it and...huh.

I will say that July is a talented writer but...the characters. Each and every character (up to and including the preemie baby) was just simply creepy, got under my skin (a tip of the hat to July, I guess). I'm OK with creepy in a book (Lolita), but this was just overboard and, yes, very obnoxious ("Look at my wacky cast of dysfunctional characters! Don't you see yourself and everyone you know in their quirks and calamities?" July seems to be shouting...and puts th
Apr 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
On a scale of 1 to 5, I'd rate it yellow. Or helicopter. It's likely perverse. It's probably clever. I'm a little too shell shocked to really be of any use with this review. If you do decide to read it, tell someone where you'll be and what time you'll be home. ...more
Jul 07, 2014 rated it liked it
Miranda July has such beautiful insights that resonate with one's sometimes secret inner thoughts. Like when she writes that she sits perfectly still while someone is talking about her because she "loves to be described". Or how she looks at babies to see if she has a secret connection with them that's stronger than that with their mother. These are the little things that can pass through the mind without a second thought, but here she brings them to a whole new level.

The characters have free r
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This book is bizarre. I was talking about it with a librarian who had read this and her short stories, and he said something that I'm going to put here and possibly misquote. Quirky characters and strange situations are more tolerable in short stories, because they are in and out, you can marvel at them but not have to live with them; in a novel it can cause agony to the reader as you dive deeper into strange people making confusing decisions. Agreed, agreed. I would probably like July's short s ...more
Lolly K Dandeneau
Oct 15, 2014 rated it really liked it
My brain is scrambled. This is the weirdest story I have read in years. The characters are all off their rocker, or maybe we are all just as strange deep down inside.
Cheryl is a bit disturbed and her hunger for Philip and the connections she sees with him are outlandish, so starts the novel as it spins madly into the strange and unusual. When her bosses need a place for their daughter Clee to live and chose her, her tight ship of a life will sink. Clee is a brutish knockout, in more ways than o
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
Auteurs like the evidently multi-talented Miranda July generally don't receive much attention 'round these here parts, so I was thrilled that our little library got a copy of this...yet the curious generic black cover, the riotous blaze of colors on the inside front and back covers, and Ms. July's stay-away-from-me-and-my-book photo all seem to non-verbally yet overtly communicate THIS IS ART! in a way that makes me scoff dubiously.

Shouldn't have scoffed. She's got herself a new fan here in Ala
Anndra Dunn
Apr 08, 2015 rated it did not like it
This is a book about Quirkily Insane and unlikeable caricatures doing Quirkily Insane and unlikeable things. Unfortunately the book wants you to root for its protagonist and this just isn't going to happen.

This was an exhausting read, maintaining a constant low-level unpleasantness. The authorial voice is arch and swithers between trying to present aspects of depression as slyly humorous - such as the protagonist explaining her system for managing her life, all going back to only having one set
Steven Godin
I must have been possessed by a bizarre ,self-loathing middle age women who has some pretty messed up sexual fantasies to get through this!, my God what on earth was going on here!, funny at times yes but in an oddball, screwed up way, and if Cheryl Glickman was not irritating enough what about Clee!, I guess half of me couldn't help but feel something for her, while the other half wanted to chuck her out the fucking window!. The first third was somewhat normal before sliding down a slippery slo ...more
Po Po
Jul 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I don't know whether to laugh or cry or scream at the top of my lungs as I ride a rainbow across the sky.

Sometimes a book just has "it" -- the connection that makes you feel as if the book is written especially for you.

It's one of those unputdownable books that puts the rest of the world on hold.

Of course there are quirky and endearing characters. And kinky shit (this IS written by the lady who came up with pooping back and forth forever.) But there's so much more.

It's an exploration of human
Feb 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: lit
Miranda July has produced a novel that is so Miranda July only fans of Miranda July could love it. Yes, it's got her character quirks, yes it's got some potentially inappropriate relationships, yes there are some quite bizarre moments and naturally there are some magical ways of seeing the world, especially the world experienced by Cheryl Glickman. But then almost out of nowhere she flips a switch and Cheryl starts to come of age in a pretty straight forward narrative of self discovery. Except i ...more
Feb 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
I am a big fan of Miranda July’s films (I loved You & Me & Everyone We Know) but I never dove into her fiction before. This book managed to evoke an ocean’s worth of heartache out of me, as what July manages to do is create characters that are so alien (and alienated) yet so emotionally real and resonant, it’s almost impossible to not empathize with them. And the truths she CONSTANTLY unveils, one after another like machine gun fire, are sometimes funny and sometimes sad, but they are always pro ...more
lark benobi
I didn't expect this novel, especially given the way it begins, to turn out to be a love story. I was surprised by it in so many ways, most of all for its exquisite depiction of human loneliness. Everyone is lonely in this story. Everyone tries to run away from the despair of their own lives by creating a script and playing parts they write for themselves and in which they are the hero, so that they can justify the most selfish and repulsive acts against others and to pretend for a while that th ...more
Tyler Goodson
Sep 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: six-stars, arcs
Cheryl is a forty year old woman living alone until, suddenly, she isn't. Clee is the girl half her age who is the reason Cheryl doesn't live alone anymore. What happens when these two collide might shock, and will definitely amaze, as July shepherds us through the astoundingly weird to the stunningly humane. Sometimes I stopped reading to talk to myself out loud about how good this book is. It is really, really good, and it contains every kind of love. Cheryl thinks her story might not be a Gre ...more
Francesca Marciano
Jan 16, 2015 rated it it was ok
Honestly, I really don't know about this. I'm not sure what she wanted to do with this book. It's as if July tries too hard to be quirky and weird, and it's not fun anymore. This trying too hard becomes annoying. The plot and the characters didn't make sense and I couldn't care less for any of them. She lost me after the first ten pages and I'm not sure why I didn't abandon the book earlier. Probably the fact that I loved her films and her short stories so much. Disappointed. ...more
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fiction, adult, 2015
This book just wasn't my cup of tea. I've read other works by Miranda July that I've thoroughly enjoyed, but this one just didn't do anything for me. It made me sad, and I definitely don't need to be any sadder this winter. I thought the concept was interesting but it was just too weird for me. I know that this will be an unpopular opinion, nonetheless it is my opinion and I will stand by it. ...more
Julie Ehlers
Jan 23, 2015 rated it really liked it
My feelings about this novel careened wildly as I was reading it. If you’d asked me what my possible rating for this book might be, at various points I would’ve said anywhere from 2 stars to 5. Any enjoyment I felt was usually tempered by exasperation at one thing or another—for one thing, I couldn’t get a handle on the narrator, Cheryl. She mostly seemed amusingly clueless, but would occasionally, jarringly, say something much wiser than I would’ve expected from her. At other times, Miranda Jul ...more
Apr 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
“I'm the first man,” she said.
“The one in denim?”
“The first bad man.”
It was the way she was standing when she said it – her feet planted wide, her big hands waiting in the air. Just like a bad man, the kind that comes to a sleepy town and makes all kinds of trouble before galloping off again. She wasn't the first bad man ever but the first I'd ever met who had long blond hair and pink velour pants. She snapped her gum impatiently.

This was my first reaction upon finishing The First Bad Man, a
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21st Century Lite...: The First Bad Man - Background (No Spoilers) (Feb 2019) 5 42 Feb 16, 2019 10:50AM  
Globe Tuesday Boo...: The First Bad Man 1 5 Oct 09, 2018 05:01PM  
Book Club: The First Bad Man 1 5 Jan 14, 2018 02:23PM  

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Miranda July (born February 15, 1974) is a performance artist, musician, writer, actress and film director. She currently resides in Los Angeles, California, after having lived for many years in Portland, Oregon. Born Miranda Jennifer Grossinger, she works under the surname of "July," which can be traced to a character from a "girlzine" Miranda created with a high school friend called "Snarla."


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