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Book Review: No One Belongs Here More Than You

It may seem a little farfetched,  but when I browse a bookstore for my next read, I imagine the process is similar in scope to meeting that special someone at a dating auction. I don’t want to take home just anyone; I want somebody special. It is one of the reasons why I find it irksome when asked for advice, booksellers will often give an answer similar to this:

“If you like horror, you should go with Dean Koontz or Stephen King. If you’re in the mood for a little romance tonight, Nicholas Sparks will do the trick.”

Thanks, but no thanks. As I said before, I don’t want to take home just anyone. I’m looking for something new and refreshing. I don’t want to read a book that is constructed of the same writing formula as its authors last forty titles, and I don’t necessarily want to take home a book that has been used and abused by mostly everybody out there. I want something special.

That is why when I see the bright yellow cover of Miranda July’s No One Belongs Here More Than You, my world takes on that slow-motion clarity witnessed in movies. An eternity passes between the instant where my eyes first graze its title to when the two-hundred page book of short stories is held in my hand. It only took the first few pages to convince me that it was the reason I had come to the bookstore that night.

Miranda July is a fierce writer, one who will not hold back when others might. She is not afraid to place her readers in awkward situations and see how they behave. It is safe to say that I learned more about the human experience from these sixteen short stories than I would have from twenty of most author’s novels.

Most of her stories are written about relationships: family relationships, romantic relationships, even the subtle relationships of strangers. In her effort to thoroughly explore the function of why these relationships work, or more often don’t work, July delves into the deepest crevices and pushes through the thickest growth simply to observe.

In her pages the reader will witness the lustful, daydream relationship of two neighbors, the unhealthy, incestuous relationship of a father and daughter, and even the relationship of a woman and the house she is afraid to ever leave. In all of her stories, July knows that it is what is beneath the surface that matters, and where other writers would turn away or lightly brush upon, July, camera-like, brings such matters into glaring focus.

Her stories are not for everyone. She is not a safe read. Her stories are often vulgar in content, and will most likely change your perception of at least one aspect of your life. But, if you’re anything like me, all of these reasons just make her far more endearing.