Sunday, 22 January 2012

55/111 - It Chooses You by Miranda July

Finding this new Miranda July book was purely an accident. I had been feeling disheartened about books for a while and decided to browse the Canongate website for some inspiration when I saw her name. I read her book of short stories, No One Belongs Here More Than You, when I was at university and I remember loving it, so I bought this without even really looking at what it was.

Several years ago, when Miranda was working on a film script she was having trouble finishing, she decided to start interviewing people from the PennySaver in LA, which is similar to the Free Ads - you list what you want to sell and your asking price.

The resulting project is around a dozen interviews with people who agreed to be interviewed and photographed, as well as pepperings of July's progress with her script and her own interjections.

Like NOBHMTY, I found this charming and funny and sad, and there were a couple of moments that were creepy and in all it exposed the loneliness and need for these people to tell their own story and feel like they have a story. The other day I was watching Bored To Death, which my brother got me for Christmas, and one of the characters says, "I'm in your movie, and you're in my movie and we each have our secret thoughts while the movie is going on, and to try to find a place of connection. Not being alone is very difficult."

I liked this sentiment - every day I look around me and I see people and I think, to them, they are the most important person in their world, and yet they're not even on my radar. I think this is what she's trying to get at with this book. Everyone thinks they are the most important person in the world, when in fact they are totally insignificant.

She also talks a lot about death - not just her own, but sometimes the death of the people she is interviewing. One woman is selling some old photo albums of a couple she never met, but who are dead, because they didn't have any children and she didn't want to see the photos discarded. She can't afford to go on her own holidays, so she looks at their holiday snaps and lives through them vicariously. Another woman selling a kitten mourns the death of her first husband of forty years, even though she's since re-married, it's clear that the second husband doesn't live up to the first. Then there'a a creepy guy who has all his possessions laid out for Miranda and her crew to come and see, and talks at them endlessly and they get scared that he won't let them leave.

The climax of the project is when they encounter a man selling some greeting cards, and when they arrive at his house he shows them all the filthy limericks he has written for him wife over the years. They end up making such a connection with him that Miranda decides that he should have a part in the movie, however he dies before he gets to see the end result.

I liked this a lot, I like all of her work and her projects. I should probably watch her films at some point...

Next: Palo Alto by James Franco

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