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Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, Canada
My virtue is that I say what I think, my vice that what I think doesn't amount to much.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

The First Bad Man

This is performance artist/filmmaker Miranda July's debut novel. I'm familiar with July's work so I was prepared for oddness and I got plenty of it. Cheryl Glickman is a 40-something neurotic who lives a very regimented life on her own. She is afraid of losing control, believing that a momentary lapse of discipline will place her on a slippery slide into ruin.  She keeps just one place setting of dishes which forces her to wash them before she eats again thus preventing a pileup of dirty dishes in the sink which can only lead to homelessness and peeing in cups. She works for a firm that sells women's self defence/fitness videos and loves Philip, a lecherous older board member with the company. This love is unrequited. In fact Philip seeks Cheryl's permission to have sex with a teenager. Cheryl longs for a baby she once met and to whom she formed an inexplicable emotional connection. She has named him Kubelko Bondy. Poor lonely Cheryl.

Then Cheryl's bosses coerce her into taking in Clee, their 20 year old daughter, on a temporary basis. Clee turns out to be the houseguest from hell; she is surly, smelly and cruel. A strange and unlikely relationship evolves over time between the two women.

My reaction after reading The First Bad Man is as strange as the novel itself. I can't decide if it was too damn weird or just weird enough and I find myself unable to say whether I loved or hated it.

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