Staff Shelf-Talker: The First Bad Man, Miranda July

first bad

Filmmaker Miranda July’s wonderfully weird first novel is a surprisingly earnest tale of motherhood wrapped up in pitch black humour. Following the middle-aged, eccentric Cheryl, it weaves together a cast of hypnotically repulsive characters to form a taboo busting pastiche of genres.

When Cheryl is prevailed upon by her employers to put up their twenty-year-old daughter – the attractive, unhygienic Clee – an intense bond forms between the two women that defies easy categorisation. The new cohabitants’ psychological war is punctuated by bizarre text messages from Cheryl’s obliviously lecherous colleague and questionable advice from her therapist, Ruth-Anne, who herself is engaged in the sort of ‘adult game’ that Cheryl finds herself drawn into.

The novel might not always be even – the precise observational humour that characterises the first two thirds of the book starts to wobble when July gets serious – but there’s no questioning July’s originality. Funny, unique and heartfelt, it’s a promising new direction for a prolific creative voice.


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