PODCAST

Episode 372: Miranda July

BY MEGAN LABRISE • May 14, 2024

A road trip takes a turn in Miranda July’s alluring new novel.

On this week’s Fully Booked podcast, Miranda July discusses All Fours(Riverhead, May 14), a flabbergasting, funny new novel… and doesn’t make it (geographically) far. As Kirkus assesses in an admiring review: “This tender, strange treatise on getting out from the ‘prefab structures’ of a conventional life is quintessentially July.”

July is a Los Angeles–based filmmaker, artist, and writer. Her books include It Chooses You, The First Bad Man, and No One Belongs Here More Than You, winner of the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award. Her fiction has appeared in The Paris Review, Harper’s, and The New Yorker.

Here’s a bit more from our review of All Fours: “According to Harris, the husband of the narrator of July’s novel, everyone in life is either a Parker or a Driver. ‘Drivers,’ Harris says, ‘are able to maintain awareness and engagement even when life is boring.’ The narrator knows she’s a Parker, someone who needs ‘a discrete task that seems impossible, something…for which they might receive applause.’ For the narrator, a ‘semi-famous’ bisexual woman in her mid-40s living in Los Angeles, this task is her art; it’s only by haphazard chance that she’s fallen into a traditional straight marriage and motherhood. When the narrator needs to be in New York for work, she decides on a solo road trip as a way of forcing herself to be more of a metaphorical Driver. She makes it all of 30 minutes when, for reasons she doesn’t quite understand, she pulls over in Monrovia. After encountering a man who wipes her windows at a gas station and then chats with her at the local diner, she checks in to a motel, where she begins an all-consuming intimacy with him. For the first time in her life, she feels truly present. But she can only pretend to travel so long before she must go home and figure out how to live the rest of a life that she—that any woman in midlife—has no map for.”

July and I begin with the novel’s opening lines, and what it means to make an invitation to a reader, to encourage them to join you in a new world. We talk about Venita Blackburn’s Dead in Long Beach, California and scintillating premises in general. We talk about the sexiness of All Fours, and how arousal isn’t necessarily a pure good. We explore the role of pilgrimage in making art; the merits of firsthand experience and received wisdom; intergenerational friendships; and the rewards and penalties of the patriarchy. She tells me whether it’s necessary to identify with every character in order to make a novel work. We chat about Parkers and Drivers, cover art, and a whole lot more.

Then editors Laura Simeon, Mahnaz Dar, and Eric Liebetrau share their top picks in books for the week.

 

EDITORS’ PICKS:

Chronically Doloresby Maya Van Wagenen (Dutton)

Gut Reaction by Kirby Larson & Quinn Wyatt (Scholastic)

The Wildcat Behind Glass by Alki Zei, trans. by Karen Emmerich (Yonder)

I Will Show You How It Was: The Story of Wartime Kiev by Illia Ponomarenko (Bloomsbury)

 

THANKS TO OUR SPONSORS:

It All Belongs: Love, Loss, and Learning To Live Again by Judy Smoot & Roy Smoot with Melinda Folse

Man Eating Plants: How a Vegan Diet Can Save the World by Jonathan Spitz

The Straits of Detroit by Charles G. Bird

The Giant’s Ladder: The Science Professional’s Blueprint for Marketing Success by Elizabeth Chabe

 

Fully Booked is produced by Cabel Adkins Audio and Megan Labrise.

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