No one belongs here more than you
This is my favorite read of 2008! ('tis an '07 release, but I only found it recently)
I would like to copy the review I just wrote for Mirka's Best Reads of 2008 thread, in hopes of engendering a larger discussion on this one topic that won't disrupt the flow of her thread. Maybe you can post here when you've had a chance to read it.
No One Belongs Here More Than You Stories by Miranda July
She's funny and quirky and occasionally profound and she writes flawed, furiously fucked up characters who do flawed, furiously fucked up things without making the reader feel like a voyeur on something dirty or inhumane or pointless. Just like Chuck's work, for all its black humor, has a rugged human-heartedness that resists easy sentimentalizing, yet still rescues the work from feeling merely perverse. Her work has that quality about it, but she gets there in her own unique and often startling ways.
Also, I love both the short story and the very short story as forms. These are the two genres that she writes in. Which means you'll probably spot Amazon reviewers nonplussed that she didn't take any one of these great stories and expand it into a novel. But if you love the Zen quality of the very short story, if you love the poetic compression and emotional distillation of say, Amy Hempel stories, then you should find these stories rewarding.
July is a filmmaker and performance artist as well as an author.
Also, when you order this book from Amazon, make sure to get her feature-length film:
Me and You and Everyone We Know
You can even buy it as a download and be watching it within minutes.
I ain't messing around. Even if you aren't blown away by the short film I linked to above, get the book and get the feature film. Yes, both. The short is interesting in its own strange little way, but it's no real measure of the other works. The book and the feature film are both much better than the short and are the best recommendations I have for the entire year. Both have an internal compass for mixing strange humor with provocative themes amidst the banalities of everyday life and exposing characters who seem like real people instead of idealizations. It's all carried out in a way that is unique to the author and gently takes the top of your head off when you're least expecting it and then peppers your brain with sweetness and longing. Buy these stories and read them as slowly as you can.
VP - Workshop Dog