Award-winning filmmaker/artist Miranda July brings "(her) characteristic humor, frankness and emotional ruthlessness" to her debut novel The First Bad Man * * *. (Check out her short stories in No One Belongs Here More Than You that reviewers called "simultaneously bizarre and achingly familiar.")
Fortysomething Cheryl Glickman, managing director of Open Palm, a women's non-profit works from home at her bosses' suggestion. Tightly-wound and incredibly regimented, she lives alone and suffers from debilitating globus hystericus. Cheryl has been secretly in love with Phillip, one of her board members and fantasizes a sexual relationship. At times, she has reasons to hold out hope, until Phillip's tearful confessions.
When Cheryl's bosses ask if their 21 year-old daughter, Clee, can move into her house for a little while, Cheryl's eccentrically ordered world explodes. Gradually, Cheryl and Clee work out a bizarre arrangement in that they act out the staged scenarios in a series of women's self-defense videos, with Clee playing the part of the "bad man". Ultimately, it is the selfish and cruel Clee who bullies Cheryl into reality and, unexpectedly, provides her the love of a lifetime.
"Told in Cheryl's own confiding, unfiltered voice, the novel slides easily between plot and imagination, luring the reader so deeply into Cheryl's interior reality that the ridiculous inventions of her life become progressively more and more convincing."
Called "dazzling, disorienting, and unforgettable", The First Bad Man is a "spectacular debut novel that is so heartbreaking, so dirty, so tender, so funny...that readers will be blown away."
For open-minded readers ready for something new and unusual.
* * * = 3 starred reviews