Book Review: The First Bad Man by Miranda July


The First Bad Man

I’ve posted before of my love of Dawn O’Porter – and when she recently started a page on Patreon where she posts lots of content she doesn’t post publicly (for a small monthly fee – less than a coffee shop latte!) I signed up straight away.  One of the things on there is a book club – and this was her suggestion for February / March – after she was given a copy of it by Louis Theroux.  Dawn said that fans of Eleanor Oliphant would love it – so I immediately purchased it. #followingtheherd #DawnOPorterinjoke

Here is the synopsis:

“From the acclaimed filmmaker, artist, and bestselling author of No One Belongs Here More Than You, a spectacular debut novel that is so heartbreaking, so dirty, so tender, so funny–so Miranda July–readers will be blown away.

Here is Cheryl, a tightly-wound, vulnerable woman who lives alone, with a perpetual lump in her throat. She is haunted by a baby boy she met when she was six, who sometimes recurs as other people’s babies. Cheryl is also obsessed with Phillip, a philandering board member at the women’s self-defense non-profit where she works. She believes they’ve been making love for many lifetimes, though they have yet to consummate in this one.

When Cheryl’s bosses ask if their twenty-one-year-old daughter Clee can move into her house for a little while, Cheryl’s eccentrically-ordered world explodes. And yet it is Clee–the selfish, cruel blond bombshell–who bullies Cheryl into reality and, unexpectedly, provides her the love of a lifetime.

Tender, gripping, slyly hilarious, infused with raging sexual fantasies and fierce maternal love, Miranda July’s first novel confirms her as a spectacularly original, iconic and important voice today, and a writer for all time. The First Bad Man is dazzling, disorienting, and unforgettable.”

Well – where to start!

This is truly a weird book.

Initially I could see the likeness between Cheryl and Eleanor – but then this got odder and odder.  And quite disturbing.  The sexual content grew and grew which I was slightly uncomfortable with – as it was all so bizarre.  I got to about 40% and was unsure whether to push forward or not.  Then I had to take my youngest to a medical appointment – and was sat in the waiting room at Birmingham Children’s Hospital reading it – and it just felt wrong.

I’ve decided that 2020 is the year I will allow myself to give up on books I’m not enjoying – and so that was it – I gave up before 50%.  No more pushing through (like the Goldfinch!!)  Life is too short – and there are SOOOO many books out there I want to read.

Lots of other people on Dawn’s Patreon page loved it – so please don’t let me put you off – maybe I’m just a bit too straight laced and vanilla?!



ETA:  I wrote the above back in February when I started (and gave up on) The First Bad Man.  However, the book club on Dawn’s Patreon page never got to fully dissect it as Dawn’s best friend died suddenly and so book club was put on hold.  Then ‘lockdown’ happened – and I’m not sure when book club will start again (although there is still lots of content on the Patreon page – just different to book club – but still very entertaining).  Anyway – I decided to post this blog post anyway as it was sat there ready to go and I’m interested to see if any of you guys have read it and what you think!







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