The First Bad Man

Miranda July. Scribner, $25 (288p) ISBN 978-1-4391-7256-8
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. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 08/25/2014
Release date: 01/13/2015
Genre: Fiction
Open Ebook - 256 pages - 978-1-4391-7260-5
Compact Disc - 7 pages - 978-1-4423-8068-4
Paperback - 304 pages - 978-1-4391-7257-5
Paperback - 978-1-4767-9472-3
Downloadable Audio - 978-1-4423-8069-1
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