Cheryl is driving along in her car. On the outside she is stuck in traffic. On the inside she is pensive, intense, her face is arranged for the spectator. She is not just a woman in a car..here, I’ll let her tell you what she means:
“I drove to the doctor’s office as if I was starring in a movie Phillip was watching — windows down, hair blowing, just one hand on the wheel. When I stopped at red lights, I kept my eyes mysteriously forward. Who is she? people might have been wondering. Who is that middle-aged woman in the blue Honda?”
Welcome to The First Bad Man by Miranda July. This novel manages to be both entertainingly weird and terrifyingly mundane. Cheryl wants to be special, but she’s not. I mean not any more than everybody is a speshul snowflake. And like everyone else she ties her identity to a long continuous narrative the only difference is that hers starts when she is 9 years old and meets Kubelko Bondy; a magical mystery child hiding in the bodies of other children. When the novel starts Cheryl is 42 and every time she sees a child she peers at them to see if Kubelko Bondy is hiding in this particular baby. She is convinced Kubelko Bondy reincarnates a thousand times in an effort to find his way back to Cheryl.
“I checked to see if he and I had a special connection that was greater than his bond with his mother. We didn’t.”
In fact I could probably have read an entire book about her wonderful inner narrative
“I wouldn’t use a British accent out loud, but I’d be using one in my head and it would carry over.”
and her painstakingly precise “cleaning system”
“The solution is simple. Fewer dishes. They can’t pile up if you don’t have them, but also. Stop moving things around. How much time do you spend moving objects to and fro? Before you move something far from where it lives, remember you’re eventually going to have to carry it back to its place – is it really worth it? Can’t you read the book standing right next to the shelf with your finger holding the spot you’ll put it back into? Or better yet: don’t read it.”