This short story collection was recommended to me by a spiritually mindful person offering a certain voice to the smatterings of thoughts that hound me daily. He presented a nondescript cover with a long title. Miranda July? I had not been acquainted with her identity. Author notes provided a rounded picture: filmmaker, performance artist, and author. Recipient of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award for this short story collection, July (artist name, born Miranda Jennifer Grossinger) had distinction in being shown at two Whitney Biennials and Guggenheim. In mainstream lore, she starred in Me and You and Everyone We Know (2005) of which she wrote and directed. Both Cannes and Sundance Film Festival awarded a special jury prize to this film.
Her website’s password (you must guess – love) is another indicator that while her prose sometimes details a sexual encounter, it is purposefully hollow compared to the emotional and mental spaces behind each action. Raised in Berkeley, California, there is a feminist searching vibe that breaths through each narrator whether male or female.
Published in 2007 by Miranda July, No one belongs here more than you contains 16 short stories of sorrow and moments of loving for the beauty of inner lives. In the stories, notable successes or details of status are not highlighted as much as a keen desire to connect and harness meaning from the small episodes in life that are easily overlooked. Several of these shorts had initially been published in Zoetrope, The Paris Review, and Harvard Review among others. For “It Was Romance,” July focuses on the “air in front of our faces” comparing this three dimensional representation as being filled with intimacy and grace. Selections of importance by her perspective can be viewed as trivial without embracing the universality of pain and struggle humans share in achieving acceptance and expressing love of a higher order like that described by Erich Fromm in The Art of Loving.
Inescapable in all her stories is an overriding consideration for all sexual preferences and fetishes without it interfering with her main premise of being – “being” in the sense of living without fear. “Birthmark” is somewhat predictable in its arch, but well-meaning. Echoing sections of Jelinek’s The Piano Teacher, “Something That Needs Nothing” captures the intoxication of certain attention yet how it festers great distress. Most poignant of all these glimpses of oneself is “This Person.” In about four pages, July deconstructs an intensity and anxiety about accepting worldly prizes against a strong desire for self-preservation in a subtle manner. Has this person missed their chance to be loved by all? But, in what capacity do we understand this love?
Following this book, I intend to invest more intellectual and emotional time into July’s written and artistic creations. Modernization weakened connections humankind had barely obtained anyway, and July magnifies the wreckage.