Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Sometimes we can only try to make sense of lonely.

I finally finished Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More Than You today. I like the collection a lot. It's got a very unique voice, and yet it feels comfortable, like someone talking to a friend. The stories are all stories filled with loneliness, and the sort of odd, quirky ways in which this loneliness manifests itself in people, how they deal with it. It's all about different people who find themselves trying very hard to connect, but the stories are imbued with that feeling of something missing and a longing to fill that space.

Her voice is consistent through all the stories, which actually makes it difficult to distinguish one from the other. Even though the characters are all different characters, the consistent voice makes it seem like it's all one person. Maybe even incarnations of the same person (Miranda July herself, maybe?).

The stories are funny, awkward, sometimes even uncomfortable and strange, but the characters, no matter what kind of weird things they do, always seem very very human.

I read most of the stories about a month ago now, so I won't be any good at reviewing any of them, but today, I finished up "Mon Plaisir" and "How to Tell Stories to Children", both which I really really enjoyed.

"Mon Plaisir" is about a couple who have drifted apart, consumed by their own lives in a way, and they go to be extras in a film. It's during this time of being extras, that they find that everything they've lost in their relationship comes naturally to them - but only when the cameras are rolling. They act the part well, but as soon as the director shouts "cut", the magic disappears. I liked the conception of this story, for that irony of being able to only be themselves when it's just acting, for being able to catch a glimpse of what it should have been. And offset, they finally see that they've completely lost everything in each other.

"How to Tell Stories to Children" follows a relationship between a woman and the daughter of her friends. Again, this is filled with this sort of aching love, and the strange way in which they all cope with their relationships with each other.

I think what is great about these stories is that so often in these stories, people are doing things for no good reason. Inexplicable. And yet, you get that deep down, there's the root of it, this sense of longing, trying to make up for it, trying to touch some one, somehow making things fit and belong.

What it is - humans do strange things. There's often no reason behind the things we do. But it seems to me that she believes as I do, that loneliness is one of those worst things that can happen. And we try so hard to avoid it, and yet we all feel it. So much humanity in these flawed, confused people, as the world happens to them and things fall apart - it's everyday life, and yet these people are doing their best to stay afloat in this world that often times holds no logic.

7 drops:

moonrat said...

do you think a debut novel can survive if it doesnt have, say, a plot?

i know this isn't directly related, but...

angelle said...

no. not unless, say, the whole POINT of it is it's aimlessness. like if the author is making some profound statement about the banality of life or something. but then it would have to be executed exceedingly well and written with a really unique voice. like it has to be incredibly beautiful or really funny and snarky and makes us willing to sorta just read 300 pages of pointlessness. that's tall order. most authors can hide behind a good plot if their writing is subpar, but i think the reverse is much harder to pull off.

i mean, in all seriousness. who the hell wants to read a book without a plot? i'm having trouble slogging through henry miller right now bc i still haven't yet arrived at his plot yet (i'm starting to suspect there isn't any, and it's just an entire book where he complains about how he's poor and hungry and in how many different ways can he describe female body parts and sex).


angelle said...

and you could argue many people love miller and that's all good and dandy, but these days i think there's a lot of things you can't get away with that you used to be able to. (even if everyone recognized austen now, i still think austen would have a hard time winning over agents with her openings these days)

moonrat said...

exactly. i agree.

now if only debut writers would stop sending me their think pieces.

moonrat said...

pho, pho pho pho pho

angelle said...

don't forget the thai iced tea.

orientalcracker said...

obviously i'm totally reading like a month's worth of posts in one hour.

anyway, it occurred to me that if i ever sent moonrat a ms, she'd throw it in the trash and never even send me a form rejection letter. it's a good thing i stopped this whole "writing" nonsense.

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