Synopses & Reviews
“These delightful stories do that essential-but-rare story thing: they surprise
. They skip past the quotidian, the merely real, to the essential, and do so with a spirit of tenderness and wonder that is wholly unique. They are (let me coin a phrase) July-esque
, which is to say: infused with wonder at the things of the world.” —George Saunders, author of Tenth of December
Award-winning filmmaker and performing artist Miranda July brings her extraordinary talents to the page in a startling, sexy, and tender collection. In these stories, July gives the most seemingly insignificant moments a sly potency. A benign encounter, a misunderstanding, a shy revelation can reconfigure the world. Her characters engage awkwardly—they are sometimes too remote, sometimes too intimate. With great compassion and generosity, July reveals their idiosyncrasies and the odd logic and longing that govern their lives. No One Belongs Here More Than You is a stunning debut, the work of a writer with a spectacularly original and compelling voice.
"An accomplished debut collection of 16 stories, simultaneously bizarre and achingly familiar....A smart, original collection." Kirkus Reviews
"July's collection of stories is a gem of unconventional storytelling. Comparisons to Lorrie Moore only get the potential reader halfway there; one must add Karen Finley's meditations and Douglas Coupland's painful self-exploration." Booklist
"Some of these couplings are startling, but others are cliches that drag down an otherwise witty and unusual book. The best moments here are small...and as they accrue the collection becomes an exhilarating read." Library Journal
"Miranda July's is a beautiful, odd, original voice seductive, sometimes erotic, and a little creepy, too." David Byrne
"These stories are incredibly charming, beautifully written, frequently laugh-out-loud funny, and even, a dozen or so times, profound. Miranda July is a very real writer, and has one of the most original voices to appear in fiction in many years. Fans of Lorrie Moore should rub this book all over themselves she's got that perfect balance of humor and pathos. There has been no more enjoyable and promising a debut collection in many a moon." Dave Eggers
"These delightful stories do that essential-but-rare story thing: they surprise. They skip past the quotidian, the merely real, to the essential, and do so with a spirit of tenderness and wonder that is wholly unique. They are (let me coin a phrase) July-esque, which is to say: infused with wonder at the things of the world." George Saunders, author of In Persuasion Nation
"A woman gives swimming lessons in her kitchen of course! Miranda July can make anything seem normal in these truly original stories. She has first-rate comic timing and a generous view of the human condition. Maybe best of all, there's joy here, too, often where you would not expect to find it." Amy Hempel, author of The Collected Stories of Amy Hempel
"[T]he book is full of wistful, wonderful observations about the limits of connection, about the hopes and disappointments of intimacy....July has created a voice that is alive and winning and very funny as she struggles to answer their questions and, ultimately, ours." Los Angeles Times
"The problem with Ms. July's writing, of course, is that even her metaphors seem to indicate something about youth culture....Her voice is positioned as generational, and in fiction that can be distracting." New York Sun
"If the territory in No One Belongs Here More Than You seems familiar, her treatment of it is different, less coolly twee." New York Magazine
"July's is a distinctive aesthetic that, misread, can seem flip, pointless and cold....These stories are marked by an imagination that conjures the incredible, renders it mundane (often through sex) and captures an emptiness of modern spirit." The Oregonian
"July is a strange and compelling new voice; her worlds feel real and surreal and desperately sad and filled with what one character calls 'secret joy,' at the same time. And while there is often a frustrating air of utter self-absorption about many of these disconnected souls, their hearts are powerfully human." Seattle Times
"Subversively funny and provocatively honest, Actors Anonymous
is ostensibly about acting but it's really about a society where everyone's reduced to the roles they play. The novel's many narrators fight back against these roles in truly original, often hilarious, and deeply affecting ways. So should we all." -Gary Shteyngart, author of Super Sad True Love Story
“Electrifying to see a writer hold nothing back! This shape-shifting narrative extends a reader's sense of what a novel can be, can do. Franco plays with persona in ways that implicate a reader. The defiant humor is hard-won (including the best worst job interview ever), his take on irresponsible people is both eloquent and suitably scorching, the language is enviable: the seduction of a virgin is ‘like a bullet through a birthday cake. Franco's novel lures you in with indelible images, provocative mind games, and characters laid bare, then successfully strands you in a frightening place." -Amy Hempel
“James Franco puts on a James Franco mask and borrows formats from AA to create a fiction about the fiction of identity—especially as it pertains to actors and, by logical extension, writers. Is fame (the longing for it, the actuality of it) as entangled in the creative act as alcohol? Is acting (writing) an escape from reality or the only thing thats real for an actor (writer)? The illusion of reality and the reality of fiction hold hands in this novel in much the way that actors (and writers) steal from their lives to enliven their characters. The novel does not merely explore acting, it enacts it. This is a lively, strange, engaging, often funny, sometimes brilliant, and utterly fearless novel.” -Robert Boswell, author of Tumbledown, The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards, and The Half-Known World
Screenwriter, director, and star of the acclaimed film Me and You and Everyone We Know
, Miranda July brings her extraordinary talents to the page in a startling, sexy, and tender collection.
Award-winning filmmaker and performing artist Miranda July brings her extraordinary talents to the page in a startling, sexy, and tender collection. In these stories, July gives the most seemingly insignificant moments a sly potency. A benign encounter, a misunderstanding, a shy revelation can reconfigure the world. Her characters engage awkwardly they are sometimes too remote, sometimes too intimate.
With great compassion and generosity, July reveals their idiosyncrasies and the odd logic and longing that govern their lives. No One Belongs Here More Than You is a stunning debut, the work of a writer with a spectacularly original and compelling voice.
A funny, pitch-perfect autobiographical novel that reads like The Graduate meets Girls, with a freshness of language and outlook that brings to mind The Catcher in the Rye, by the creator of the popular Tumblr "Pitchfork Review Reviews."
David is a freshly minted NYU grad whos working a not-quite-entry-level job, falling in love, and telling his parents hes studying for the LSAT. He starts a Tumblr blog, typing out posts on his BlackBerry under his desk—a blog that becomes wildly popular and brings him to the attention of major media (The New York Times
) as well as the White House. But his outward fame doesnt quell his confusion about the world and his direction in it.
This semiautobiographical debut is a coming-of-age story perfect for our time. In A Sense of Wonder author Gideon Lewis-Krauss words, “If Tao Lin had been born to Gary Shteyngarts parents and spent his early twenties slaving for pageviews at NewYorker.com, he would have written something like this, the Bright Lights, Big City of the click-here-now generation.”
James Franco's debut novel is a dark, genre-bending work that mixes memoir and pure invention -- an audacious, obsessive examination of the addictions of celebrity, acting, and the making of fictions.
The actors in James Francos brilliant debut novel include a McDonalds drive-thru operator who spends his shift trying on accents; an ex-child star recalling a massive beachside bacchanal; hospital volunteers and Midwestern transplants; a vampire flick starlet who discovers a cryptic book written by a famous actor gone AWOL; and the ghost of River Phoenix. Then theres Franco himself, who prowls backstage, peering out between the lines—before taking the stage with fascinating meditations on his art, along with nightmarish tales of excess. “Hollywood has always been a private club,” he writes. “I open the gates. I say welcome. I say, Look inside
Told in a dizzying array of styles—from lyric essays and disarming testimonials to hilariously rambling text messages and ghostly footnotes—and loosely modeled on Alcoholics Anonymouss Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions, Actors Anonymous is an intense, wild ride into the dark heart of celebrity.
About the Author
Miranda July is a filmmaker, writer, and performing artist. Her work has been presented at sites such as The Kitchen, the Guggenheim Museum, and in two Whitney Biennials. She wrote, directed, and starred in her first feature-length film, Me and You and Everyone We Know, which received a special jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival and the Caméra d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. July's short fiction has been published in The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Harper's, and Zoetrope, and has been heard on Public Radio. Raised in Berkeley, California, she lives in Los Angeles.
Reading Group Guide
No One Belongs Here More Than You
Reading Group Guide
1. Many of the characters in Miranda July's stories are lonely, vulnerable and tentative, yet clearly the intent of the author is not to expose or ridicule them but to make them sympathetic to the reader. Are there characters in these stories who unexpectedly win your heart? Are there some whose behavior you cannot understand?
2. In The Shared Patio, the narrator explains that telling Vincent Chang "it's not your fault" was "really the only thing I had ever wanted to say to anyone, and be told" (pg. 7). What does she mean by this?
3. In The Swim Team, "Maria" tells Kelda that resisting putting her face into the bowl of water is "the body telling you it doesn't want to die" (pg. 16). What is it that divides the three elderly people in this story to sign up for swimming lessons?
4. The narrator in Majesty educates people on earthquake safety, engaging her own fears. And she dreams of Prince William? Yet she says "Life is just this way, broken, and I am crazy to hope for something else" (pg. 31), why does she have this dream? Is there a strange optimism in Miranda July's stories?
5. What does The Man on the Stairs represent? Why does the narrator think about the friends she dislikes and the boy at the gas station when she first hears him coming towards her room? Instead of waking Kevin or calling for help, why does she get out of bed and face him by herself?
6. "We do terrible things, we make wars, we kill out of greed. So who are we to say how to love" (pg. 43). Does the narrator in The Sister truly believe his argument for preferring teenage girls, or is this a rationalization that allows him to continue his behavior? When does he first realize Blanca doesn't actually exist? And why does he acquiesce to Victor?
7. What is the "dark shape" in Making Love in 2003? As an adult, why does the narrator believe this darkness has been transformed into her student, Stephen Krause? After discovering he has another girlfriend, why does she write "Peace" on the chalkboard?
8. In Mon Plaisir, what is the significance of Carl and the narrator practicing Buddhism, tai chi, macrobiotic diets, and favoring only things that are "MEANINGFUL" (pg. 148)?
9. In Birthmark, why does the narrator regret her decision to remove her "stain?" What did this mark represent to both her and others? When it reappears, why does her husband believe she'll finally want to have a child with him?
10. When and why does the relationship change between Deb and Lyon in How to Tell Stories to Children? Do you consider their family relationship in the best interest of the three adults, or the child? If her eyes are "triumphant" (pg. 201) when she brings Ed Borger home, what is Lyon trying to win?
11. In Something That Needs Nothing, "Gwen" noticed "We were always getting away with something, which implied that someone was always watching us, which meant we were not alone in this world" (pg. 75). Several of the characters in other stories also mention the idea of someone looking over them. Is this a way of assuring loneliness?
12. Are there any overarching themes that link these stories together? Did you find connections between the characters -- do they occupy similar worlds?
13. Discuss the sense of loneliness in this collection. Which characters feel isolated from the rest of society? Is this their choice? Do any of them change?
Enhancing Your Book Club Tips:
1. Not only is Miranda July an award-winning author, she's also an accomplished filmmaker and performer. Before discussing No One Belongs Here More Than You, watch her movie Me and You and Everyone We Know.
2. To find out more information about Miranda July's projects, visit her website at: www.mirandajuly.com.
3. Miranda and artists Harold Fletcher created a participatory website: http://learningtoloveyoumore.com/ Visit it and share what you thought with your bookclub!