Someone is getting excited. Somebody somewhere is shaking with excitement because something tremendous is about to happen to this person. This person has dressed for the occasion. This person has hoped and dreamed and now it is really happening and this person can hardly believe it.
I’ve had a strange experience, reading Miranda July’s No one belongs here more than you. July, I’d assume, loves music, to that almost insane and painful degree, to to the point when it’s almost silly. I say that because so many of her short stories read like lyrics. This Person is the short that made me realize that, I think. Miranda July, being an artist who performs, writes, and acts, has a tendency to melt together her big loves. Cadence, pacing, even the titles of her stories are reminiscent of great indie rock songs. Is it fair to say that Miranda July is the St. Vincent of the modern short? I hope so, because I am in love with Annie Clark.
At just three pages, This Person is a quick read. The repetition of the phrase “this person,” combined with the day-dream feel of the narrative brings the reader in to a fractured mind set, where you can almost hear a unique combination of synthesizers and slide guitars. It’s kind of great, if not somewhat depressing.
What I love about music, as a medium, is that it works on two levels. The first is consciously, where the audience listens to the music and takes in what’s going on, pays attention to the lyrics and tries to figure out whatever it is that the musician wants them to figure out. The second, and I believe more affecting, is what goes on unconsciously. The emotions that a song might evoke, for reasons completely foreign to either the listener or the musician. It’s that way that music can make you feel, the way to gets to you on a deep emotional level that you can’t control. It sets the mood to the movie trailer that we’re constantly composing in our minds.
It’s great and terrifying.
In my experiences, Miranda July’s short stories have a very similar effect. Her writing is musical, coming at you at an unconscious level and, almost, punishing you for approaching it consciously. The main characters don’t have names because you’re not supposed to remember them, or at least July isn’t supposed to create them. It’s a conversation, a melody, it’s July acting and asking you to play a part. If anything, it’s communal.
Looking at July’s stories as some strange hybrid really makes them work a lot better, in my opinion. We tend to allow song writers a certain degree of grace when it comes to being over indulgent or semi-dramatic. Those bits from The Sister or The Man on the Stairs that annoyed me, if I’m honest, I’d have found more palatable if they’d just been in a song, maybe accompanied by some dirty electric guitar.