The First Bad Man by Miranda July

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The First Bad Man Source: Library

Five words from the blurb: weird, life, people, faults, love

The First Bad Man is a very strange book! I have to give it credit for its originality, but unfortunately I could only stand its bizarre characters for a limited amount of time. 

The plot focused on Cheryl, a forty-three-year-old single woman who has an odd outlook on life. At first I found her quirkiness amusing – I loved the initial scenes with the chromotherapist and was intrigued by the painfully awkward way she communicated with others. It was fascinating to read her thoughts and be able to see why her anxieties caused her to make bizarre life choices.

Unfortunately everything seemed to fall apart when Cheryl was forced to take in a teenage house-mate. The book lost its humour and become almost realistic. I wasn’t sure what to make of it at all! 

The writing was excellent throughout and there were some wonderful passages:

Try not to base your decision on this room, it isn’t representative of the whole world. Somewhere the sun is hot on a rubbery leaf, clouds are making shapes and reshaping, a spider web is broken but still works.

The dialogue was also especially good – it’s just a shame that the brilliance wasn’t maintained throughout.

Overall, it’s probably worth reading this odd little book, but be prepared for it’s patchy nature.

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4 Comments

  1. Eric says:

    It is a strange perplexing novel, but I enjoyed so many of its surreal qualities. It felt sometimes like a nightmare mixing humour and horror.

    1. Jackie says:

      Eric, I didn’t get the horror aspect – that is perhaps where I went wrong?! The end section felt realistic to me, but I can see why it could be a nightmare and I missed the satire element of that. Thanks for pointing it out!

  2. I should get this from my local library. I loved her collection of short stories No One Belongs Here More than You and her movie You, Me and Everyone We Know, but when I looked at the price of this very slim novel I just couldn’t do it. I also suspected that she might have trouble carrying off something as long as a novel for just the reasons you mentioned above.

    But, I could just go to the library.

    1. Jackie says:

      James, I haven’t read anything written by her before, but the fact you mention her good short stories makes sense. This book contained several excellent scenes, but they didn’t join up very well. I suggest heading to the library so you can see for yourself!

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