Review: The First Bad Man: A Novel by Miranda July

'Our fiction writing' / CC
Photograph: 'Our fiction writing' / CC

Genre: Dark Humour

Author: Miranda July

Publisher: Canongate Books

Publication Year: 2015


‘Quirky, middle aged Cheryl Glickman has her life turned upside down by an initially unwelcome room-mate, Clee.’


Cheryl Glickman is not a typical protagonist; middle aged, not a conventional beauty, neurotic, and extremely weird. Cheryl Glickman is a human being. A refreshing change compared to a lot of women within fiction. Her quirkiness is endearing and almost overwhelming as her personality slaps you in the face from every page. Her main concern to begin with is being a strong career woman and capturing the attentions of colleague Phillip. this all begins to fall apart, however, when another colleagues daughter becomes her supposedly temporary room-mate.

Twenty year old Clee is a nightmare of a house guest, messy, pungent, and violent. As Cheryl walks on eggshells around the young girl, wondering how to get herself out of this undesirable situation a strange game begins between the two of them. A physical, violent game that develops, and evolves changing both of them in ways they never expected. Further events take their story in another unexpected direction before diverging again to create an ending that could not have been anticipated.

The plot arc of this novel is excellently constructed, and brilliantly bizarre while staying rooted in reality. Despite the insanity of quite a lot of the story. The characters are almost cheap doxycycline pills unbelievable with certain characteristics seemingly on steroids such as the lechery of Phillip, the aggressiveness of Clee, and the weirdness of Cheryl. And yet they are believable. You can imagine crossing paths with these people, and you almost want to. Narrated by Cheryl, the writing style is original and odd as she is creating a deeply engaging read that packs a strong punch – in the same way Clee does. The style gives an intense pace to the novel, though the focus is on the relationships between this odd bunch and the insanity of that.

There are moments of laugh out loud humour, and heartbreakingly real moments of sorrow and warmth. I was so invested in the characters that I found intense joy at one point and then serious disappointment at another. I felt conflicted and confused as they did and by the end I was almost glad it was over so I could finally catch my breath. The First Bad Man: A Novel is a riveting read packed with emotion that is going to have me looking out for more of Miranda July’s writing. Although not until my brain stops spinning from reading this.


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Christine Lawler 42 Articles
Christine has a passion for literature and has been a closeted writer since childhood. Other passions include theatre, film, and all things geeky. She lives in Glasgow with a cat named Molls and a tortoise named Haruki Kabuki.

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