The First Bad Man by Miranda July

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I keep getting born to the wrong people

Miranda July has always been unapologetic in her exploration of the human spirit and psyche.  Her characters are both tender and urgent in their search for truth, importance, and intimacy within one another, yet the scenery is always slightly askew.  Maybe we’re looking into the story through a macro lens, or maybe it’s some sort of utopia that we don’t recognize.  Either way, there is something inherently unique about Miranda July, and her work has resonated with the literary and film communities for over a decade.

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Happy are the Happy by Yasmina Reza

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Clap Your Hands

It’s odd talking about happiness as if it’s somehow this attainable thing always just beyond our reach when the truth is, as soon as we finally realize that one burning desire that we’ve carried for so long, the moment of actual enjoyment is a fleeting one, and then another goal quickly rises to the surface to take it’s place. We’re forever chasing what we think will make us happy, but when that person, that thing, that job, that object of our endless yearning, finally becomes our ours?  We’re never quite satisfied by it, not completely.

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Shirley by Susan Scarf Merrell

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Left or right’s no matter…just the fact of turning

As someone who’s mildly obsessed with the work of Shirley Jackson, I was a bit skeptical when I found out about this novel.  Told from the perspective of a house guest of Jackson and her husband Stanley Hyman, the novel takes place in 1964 and imagines what life might have been like inside the Hyman household.  But when I finished the first chapter, I suspected that this biographical novelization would be a sensitive and highly-charged delicacy for those who deeply savor Jackson’s literature.  And it is.

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1988: I Want to Talk With the World by Han Han

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Life is a Highway

Let’s face it, we all need to blow off steam from time to time. We need to temporarily trade in our hectic routines for simpler pursuits. Go golfing, take a hike, or hop in our cars and tear down the road on a joyride to parts unknown. Whatever pastime you choose to pursue, it’s safe and comfortable, because it’s fleeting, and comes attached with the knowledge that when the adventure ends, life as you’ve always known it—that monotonous grind of day-to-day living—will still be waiting, right where you left it, to be resumed in all its glory, as if you’d never even stepped away.

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Off Course by Michelle Huneven

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I’ve been waiting my whole life to be seen like that

It’s the early 1980s and Cress Hartley is ready to write her doctoral dissertation and begin her life.  Distracted and unmotivated, Cress retreats to her parents’ vacation home in the California mountains in order to focus and take advantage of the peace and quiet.  But Cress soon learns that the mountains have their own unique distractions – namely men, booze, and nature.

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